A Gift of Time

Of course I’d seen it before but never really thought about it. A fob watch, not much bigger than a penny, worn by my grandfather while he fought in WWI thrown in a box of medals. It’s impossible now, with the remaining minds around me curetted with age, to tear fact from fiction. All there really is, is the fob watch.

The casing metal is long dulled, a greenish tinge, nothing else gives away the type of metal. It’s not gold, not silver, not even plated. The clasp post, where presumably it was chained to the wearer, is torn apart, the metal severed at the transecting hole, the post twisted.

There looks to be two hinges, lines against the circle below the six o’clock point. The face would have been glassed. The hollow frame pops open and shut. Why the rear would need to open on a hinge, revealing the workings, I don’t know.

The remaining face is white, crazed, with tall, thin Roman numerals. The hands are long gone, one for the hour, one for the minute, a smaller circle, at the sixth position, scribed out the sixty seconds. The numbers between eleven and three thirty are blown away. Below the face is copper, the watch’s bedrock, oxidised dull but a smooth sea of tranquillity. There’s no mark upon the watch but I suspect it’s good British engineering, perhaps made by the skilled Jewish smiths of his home, Manchester.

What a pity the hands are not there so I’d know the time of the day it was hit.

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Nearly a hundred years ago, he wore it in his heart pocket. A bullet struck the watch instead of his heart, part shattered the face, veered off, sprays of shrapnel missing jugulars and flesh, eyes and chest. The heat of the bullet melted the copper coloured bedrock which set smooth. What luck. He was meant to continue. My mother was born and so was I. And all that followed and ends was meant to be, to the end of the line. Some sixty years later he died of a heart attack. His heart ceased. But not this day, not from this stray bullet. Thanks to this watch that stopped and started time.

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