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The Clock Ticks

The Clock Ticks

– Nonfiction by Shannon Patte –

Featured in issue 15 of Dreamers Magazine

Everyone else finds it annoying, but it soothes me. It is the sound I heard as a child, visiting my grandparents. It is the sound of a house not shaped by uncertainty, bad decisions and poverty.

It is the sound of a normal house.

And mine is a normal house. I made it so. It’s the sound of progress. Quietly marching from second to second, arriving first to the half hour then to the full hour, marking our days with its chime. Wherever I am in the house I hear its distant sound and I know it’s two o’clock. Or five o’clock. Or whatever o’clock. It tells me when I have to leave to bring my daughter to hockey practice or rock climbing. It tells me when I’ve left it too late to start cooking dinner and I should just order a pizza.

It tells me when it needs winding. The chimes stretch out and begin to sound like a dying cat.

“Can’t we put it in another room?” they ask, as the clock strikes ten in the middle of our movie.

“But it looks good on the shelf,” I say.

I know we should. Put it in another room, I mean. Maybe I will. Someday, but not today.

It’s not a priority.

I like the tick.

My years are marked by checkpoints. By holidays, by the beginning and ending of school. The year begins in September and ends in June followed by the sweet bliss of pretending to be busy. I can’t imagine another way of being. In eleven years I’ll be free of this cycle. I can’t wait. I long for it and wish I could do it right now. But I know my year will still begin in September and end in June and I know summer will still smell of freedom.

My decades begin with celebrations. By ponderings of what has passed during the last and what is expected by the next. By quick body checks to see what is different, what is the same and what should be seen too. By brushing my hair and feeling relief that there are still no grey strands caught in the bristles.

They end with people asking, “Do you feel different?”

I laugh and say “No! I still feel like a teenager!” But I wonder.

My life is filled with dreams. Dreams of “what I will do when…” I love these dreams. I worry when I don’t have them, that my life will be over. I wonder how people survive when their ability to dream of the future is squashed. I worry that I won’t be able to survive. I can’t imagine not dreaming.

I ask those around me, my husband, my friends, what they think about dreams. They look at me like I’m an alien from another planet and once again I worry that others do not think the way I think. They do not worry about what I worry about.

“Why can’t you just live for today?” they ask. “Do whatever you are dreaming about now?”

I smile and nod and say, “Yeah, you’re right” but they don’t understand and I don’t want to explain. I don’t want them to think of me as a dreamer and not a do-er.

A dreamer gets eyes rolled at them. They get told they exaggerate. They get accused of being silly. They get told they need to live in reality.

But I do. Sometimes it feels like I live in a bolder reality than they do.

I’m never hindered by what I can’t do, because my dreams mean there is so much I could do.

But what happens when there isn’t?

What happens when my dreams dry up. When my reality turns pastel. When the hairs in the bristles are grey. Or white. When my future is measured in years, not decades.

It’s that I wonder about.

It’s that I worry about.

The clock ticks.

About the Author – Shannon Patte

Canadian author, playwright, poet and teacher, Shannon Patte, is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and the University of Ottawa. Her work has been produced and performed on stage in Ontario, where she lives with her family. She loves travelling and immersing herself in new locations and experiences.

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