It’s the final day of my Personal Challenge, and I’m as excited as I am sad. I’ve had a lot of fun writing these stories for you to enjoy, and I truly hope you have. For that reason, I will continue to write these short stories, but on more of a weekly basis. I might write more or less, but I’ll try to publish one per week.
My wife made a good point, yesterday, when I was talking to her about how much fun this challenge is. She said it’s perfect for my ADHD because they’re short stories, which require minimal commitment (other than consistently writing them), and the topics are always different.
So, with a mix of emotions, I will write you my final story…this week:
Mr. White bound down the street, dodging people and traffic alike. He always hated big cities. They reminded him of the impossible maze back home. Today, though, he could not hate the big cities. His watch was broke, and he only knew of one place that could fix it.
He found the door he was looking for and nearly knocked it off its hinges when he burst through. When he entered the shop, he was less than surprised to find the shopkeeper attempting to build a fountain out of sugar cubes.
“While I understand that you have a need to build a completely pointless contraption that will never work, I am in dire need of your help.”
“It no longer works, does it, Mr. White?” the shopkeeper said without turning.
“Indeed, but how did you know?”
“I fixed it last time, yes?”
“You did. Not very well, obviously.”
“Well, you see, I may have been using information from a book that I ‘borrowed’ to fix your watch. I now realize that the information was incorrect, which is very sad for you,” the shopkeeper let out a chuckle.
“I don’t find this humorous in any way. Fix it, or I’ll go to your brother,” White threatened.
The shopkeeper set down his box of sugar cubes and hurried over to Mr. White, balancing on the countertop the whole way, “I’ll fix it! You don’t need to go to him. His work is garbage! Come on, give it here!”
White pulled out an ornate pocket watch and handed it over, “How long will it take you?”
“It shouldn’t take me more than seventy rotations of the Globe,” he replied as he nodded toward a motorized globe spinning in the corner.
Mr. White started to grow impatient, “I don’t need your ambiguous comments. I need a precise amount of time given in the standard measure of hours, minutes and seconds.”
“Your standard time is far less accurate than my globe, but I’ll give you my best approximation,” he set down the watch and pulled out a piece of paper. He found a key in his pocket, but quickly discarded it after discovering that it was a terrible writing instrument. He reached in the other pocket and pulled out a flower pen. Then he began scribbling numbers on the counter top.
“What are you doing?” asked White.
“You wanted an approximation, so I’m doing some conversion calculations. I can’t give you an inaccurate number if I don’t do the math wrong!”
“Just fix it please,” Mr. White sighed, “Quickly if you can.”
“Did you want it fixed or done quickly? I cannot do both.”
“Do the best you can in as little time as possible.”
“Again, I can only do one of those options proficiently.”
“Okay, fix it, so I never have to come back here,” White said impatiently.
“You don’t have to be so rude about it!” replied the shopkeeper. He dramatically picked up the watch and stomped to the back room to further emphasize his frustration.
After what seemed like an hour, the shopkeeper finally emerged. He set the watch down on the counter and smiled, “Here you go, Mr. White.”
“Thank y—” White looked down and saw a rusty, dented watch on the counter, “This isn’t my watch! Where’s my watch?”
“Indeed, you are very observant!” he playfully replied, “This is, in fact, my watch. But it works! And since yours does not, I figured you would want this one instead.”
“Have you lost your mind?” Mr. White yelled, “You’ve been back there for nearly an hour, and this is all you have to show for it?”
“If you are that good at gauging time without a watch, why do you need one?”
“Just fix my watch!”
“Fine, fine,” the shopkeeper retreated to the back room for a few minutes before returning with Mr. White’s watch, “Here you go. Good as new.”
He picked up the watch and turned it over in his hand, making sure everything looked proper. Satisfied, he opened it to check its functions. The hands were moving as they should, so he closed it, placed it in his pocket and forced a smile, “Thank you. For fixing my watch and making this one of the worst shopping experiences ever.”
“My pleasure!” the shopkeeper grinned, “I aim to please. Now that will be one hundred gold pieces.”
“What!” White exclaimed, “You’re a crook! You should be paying me!” He turned and stormed toward the door.
“Very well,” the shopkeeper said, “but don’t expect me to fix anything else of yours!”
Mr. White slammed the door behind him.
After setting his watch to the clock on the street corner, Mr. White immediately rushed to the train station. He only had a few minutes to catch the next train.
He arrived at the station just in time to hop on board. He found a seat and, for the first time that afternoon, he allowed himself to relax.
The train ride was only about half an hour—his destination was just outside the city, among the estates in the outlying countryside. By the time the train doors were fully open, he was already across the platform racing down the path.
He rushed down a dirt road until he found the large white mansion with the hedges under the windows and a clover patch on the side. His path took him around the side, to the back where he found a large party of people. No one saw him, as they were all engaged in conversations.
A little blonde girl seemed to notice him, but he didn’t have time to find out. He checked his watch as he ran toward the big tree.
He gasped, “I’m late!” and disappeared into the rabbit hole.