There’s a man in the clock.
The clock strikes one…
The man frowns.
Man in the clock.
The clock strikes two…
The man comes down.
Stop the man in the clock.
A grandfather clock.
That’s what it was called.
Which, in truth, surprised me.
He was no grandfather.
…I didn’t think.
He looked young. Very young. When the night came and the clock struck twelve, it rang with magic. Chimed through the house with the coming of one.
One man in the clock.
He would frown at me at the second hour of the morning. Glare through the third. When I looked away, the man remained, and when the sun rose.
The man was gone.
I didn’t understand at the time. Was too young to know.
When we gathered around for breakfast that morning, I had a bone to pick.
“You told me he was a grandfather,” I complained to my uncle, who looked rightfully confused.
“Who was?” he asked.
“The man in the clock!”
There was silence then. Bone-chilling silence that struck like a knife.
I don’t quite remember the rest of the morning. Just the blank stares from around the table. The grownups looking concerned. I remember being asked what he looked like, and, when I described a brown-haired, blue-eyed man, I recognized the looks on their faces.
Looks of concern.
That was the last time I spoke of the man in the clock.
That didn’t mean he went away.
Whenever I visited my uncle, I would wait for it. The midnight hour. The chiming that brought the man forward. And, when he arrived inside the glass of the clock, I would stand watch. Waiting to see his expressions change. Waiting to see how he reacted to the hours whittling away. Waiting to see:
What was the purpose of the man in the clock?
Why was he there? What was he doing?
I’d no idea.
I watched the man in the clock.
At seven, his eyes changed. Turning a putrid yellow. Bursting from his pupils, as if a dandelion were growing inside his eyes. At eight, red spilled from the corners. Sniffling, crying blood.
And then the sun rose.
Breaking the spell.
At the first touch of sunlight, the man in the clock was gone.
I would never finish it, I realized. Never see the true purpose of the man in the clock. Not in the daylight hours. Not when the sun was out, and people were hustling about.
I moved to Alaska.
And I waited.
My uncle passed.
Bestowing on me the gift of the grandfather clock.
It’s finally time.
What brings you, oh man of the clock?
As I wait for the time when night strikes—enclosing us in the dark—I grow impatient. Excited.
In these long nights, I will know. As the days pass, and the hours go by, I can feel that it’s soon.