Need to Know

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A simple short story I wrote loosely based on experiences from my own life. First short story I've written. Hope you like it.

Submitted: January 21, 2012

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Submitted: January 21, 2012






I had a watch once. Not like a normal wristwatch but one of those old pocket watches on a chain. The face just smiled back at me from behind the plastic case so I figured it wasn’t an expensive watch. It wasn’t even glass. Mum found it in the house and was going to stick it in a jumble sale but I grabbed it when she wasn’t looking. It was great. It never broke, never stopped working. It just kept ticking, going on and on. It was always there if I needed the time or just needed to be interested. It was reliable.

  I kept it in one of the small drawers in my dresser. I didn’t do much with it but it was just nice knowing it was there. My dad said it was a stupid thing to keep. There was no use for it, he said, but I kept it anyway. I didn’t need a use for it. I didn’t need anything. It was mine and that was what mattered. It was mine and I could rely on it. It was mine.
  Our town wasn’t big. It took me just five minutes to walk to the school but Mum drove us every morning. We could see the school from the front door so it never really felt like we were going anywhere. School just happened. Lots of things happened but it never felt like anything really changed. School happened, the divorce happened, I happened, to put it simply. I grew up.

  I remember when Dad left. He didn’t even seem like Dad. It was just like Mum was saying bye to and old friend. An old friend who’s just turned up on the doorstep to say hello and now has somewhere to be. I don’t remember everything about when Dad left. I remember him actually leaving. That’s about it. He hugged me.
  I found the watch again a while later, still in the same drawer in my dresser, in the same room. It was still ticking, still telling me what I needed to know and nothing else. The time and that was all. It was mine. Dad came over every now and then. Sometimes he came to pick up stuff and other times I’d just come back from school and he’d be there talking with Mum. Other times, I’d go and stay at Dad’s new place and it was nice seeing Dad and all but I never knew if I was supposed to feel at home there. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t want to upset Mum. I didn’t really understand at the time.
  Dad never really seemed like himself when I stayed. He’d make tea and rent a film, we’d eat and watch the film and then Dad would make some hot chocolate or something. Before he moved, he was always there, he was reliable and when I was sad or worried, he’d always tell me what I needed to know and nothing else. I mean, he still did all those things but I don’t know what it was. I just couldn’t hear him ticking anymore. It took a while for Mum to start working again too. On the days when I was with her, she’d still drive us the couple hundred yards to school. When I wasn’t with her, she’d drive past the school anyway on her way into work. I never asked her why. I didn’t need to know that.

  Summer of that year was a record year for temperatures. Dad would always ask if I fancied going somewhere at the weekend because of the weather and how we shouldn’t waste it. I didn’t really get what he meant as we pulled up at the cinema. The film was good. It was long. It had gone on for too long and I just didn’t enjoy it towards the end.
  I found the watch again that summer. It was one of the days I was with Mum. She was moving out too. The house was too big for just her. Boxes were stacked up in every corridor. I didn’t know she had so much stuff, so much baggage. She said she’d cleaned out my room and my stuff from hers was all going to be taken to Dad’s for a bit until she got settled in. I was just going to stay with Dad until then. I saw the dresser in the garden. It was so hot. I had to pull my sleeve over my hand just to touch the handle. I found the watch in the same drawer in the same dresser. The cheap plastic case had warped a bit with the heat I presume. The face still smiled back at me, still ticking, always telling me what I needed to know and nothing more. I didn’t need anything else. I helped one of the removal guys with my boxes onto the big truck. I was a bit older now so didn’t struggle too much with the boxes. I was relieved once they were all up though. I didn’t need anything else. Mum was moving out, I was staying with Dad. I didn’t need anything else. That was how it was for a while. I just jumped for a while between the two places. I was with Dad for a couple days, and then Mum, and then Dad, and then Mum. It was like clockwork. That was my life for one year. It just kept on ticking, like clockwork. That was what most of my life was like – clockwork. I never really used it but it smiled back at me from time to time. It never broke, never stopped working. It just kept ticking, going on and on. It was always there if I needed it or just needed to be interested for a while. It was reliable. I didn’t need anything else. It was mine.



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