There is an abandoned house, that stands
in an old forest. The house is full of
clocks. Big and small, old and new,
they stand alongside the walls. There are
whispers, quiet gossip, running through the
crowd of clocks. Tick tock tick tock tick tock.
In the center there is an old grandfather clock.
The oldest clock, stars as numbers, the sun
in the center. The arrow moves towards the 12,
slowly counting off the time before midnight.
The grandfather clock loudly booms. 12 times. And
all at once the clocks are alive, each one announcing
the time in its own way. Melodic and correct. Perfect.
Gears rolling against each other, working together
to produce a union of sound, not a note out of place.
But in the corner, a clock is dark and quiet. Its gears scrape together,
producing a screech full of pain and anger. It’s not united,
like each clock is. It is a family in discord, fighting among
themselves. One of the gears falls out, and another one
is broken in half. The arrows are bent and rusty, the wood chipped.
The cuckoo bird is flailing around, caught in a spring, sobbing.
A weak sound stuck in her throat as her wings flap
There is a sadness in her, a longing for those times
when her clock was new and happy, when the
gears were shiny, when the sound she produced was
as melodic as the rest of the clocks, when the family
in the clock was a happy refuge, a safe union.
The other clocks fall silent, but the broken clock is still screeching.
The cuckoo bird hits against the clock desperately.
The clock leans, crumbling under its own weight.
At last, it falls and shatters, the wood splintering,
the gears rolling in every direction, the glass slivers
spread out on the floor. Only the cuckoo bird
is left, looking over the damage. A cry escapes
from her, as she untangles herself from the rubble.
A glass tear falls from her painted eye.
She flies away, not looking back.
How do they do it? The rest
of the world. They just lie
on their beds and their eyes close
and they fall asleep. They say that if
you’re innocent, you fall asleep quicker.
There is no guilt bearing on you. Well,
I guess I’m guilty of something terrible, because
I can’t fall asleep. The endless night, wearing
on my shoulders, pushing me down. The whispers
in the corners of my room, from which hiding
is pointless. Guilty, they repeat over and over
and the moon outside presiding like a judge
looking down sternly. Guilty it says, sentencing
me to spend the long dark hours awake.
Conscious while the rest of the world
is covered in darkness, the people
I know and love are deep in their minds,
unable to help me. I am
awake, alone during the endless night.
Darkness surrounding me, yet not lulling me to sleep.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty, the dark says.
Happiness, shining like the golden sun.
Smiles all around. A perfect moment, captured
on a frame in the spotless living room. Playing
games together, sharing, advising, being close,
having fun in the family room in the evening
Fighting, but making up quickly. A hug and
a glass of milk and all is well again. Rushing
down the stairs on Christmas, laughing, overjoyed
at the presents under the tree, decorated with lights
Eating a picnic while fireworks erupt. Laughing together
loving each other. A perfect family.
Anger, lashing out like a storm.
Tears all around. No photos, no happy moments
to remember in the mess of a house.Watching
the union collapse, screaming at each other,
crying alone at night in your room, asking why.
Fighting, wounding for life. Closing your eyes and
picturing a fantasy life where all is well. Christmas
is just another day, but more grief lies on you as
you compare other families and realize yours is
crumbling. Watching the fireworks, lonely in your
room, wishing for a better life. Arguing all the time,
faking love, hiding dislike underneath. Real family.
Katya Turchin, Age 13, Grade 8, Hunter College High School, Gold Key