The finished clock is resplendent. At first glance it is simply a clock, a rather large black clock with a white face and a silver pendulum. Well crafted, obviously, with intricately carved woodwork edges and a perfectly painted face, but just a clock.But that is before it is wound. Before it begins to tick, the pendulum swinging steadily and evenly. Then, then it becomes something else.The changes are slow. First, the color changes in the face, shifts from white to grey and then there are clouds that float across it, disappearing when they reach the opposite side. Meanwhile, bits of the body of the clock expand and contract, like pieces of a puzzle. As though the clock is falling apart, slowly and gracefully.All of this takes hours.The face of the clock becomes a darker grey and then black, with twinkling stars where numbers had been previously. The body of the clock, which has been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is now entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual paper pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played.At the center, where a cuckoo bird would live in a more traditional timepiece, is the juggler. Dress in harlequin style with a grey mask, he juggles shiny silver balls that correspond to each hour. As the clock chimes, another ball joins the rest until at midnight he juggles twelve balls in a complex pattern.After midnight, the clock begins once more to fold in upon itself. The face lightens and the cloud returns. The number of juggled balls decreases until the juggler himself vanishes.By noon it is a clock again and no longer a dream.
Erin Morgenstern
Rylan! Melanie squeals, high-pitched enough to break glass. I, so sorry I haven't talked to you all night. Being a hostess is hard work. She dramatically wipes imaginary sweat off her forehead. Anyway, I finally have some free time. So why don't we go dance, hmm?Gripping my waist a little too tightly for my taste, she tries to pull me back to the house. I stand strong., jerking Melanie back when I don't move.No thanks, Melanie. My free arm tightens around Ivy's waist. I already am dancing with someone.Melanie's sight flickers to Ivy and for a moment contempt skews her big grin. But it's gone in an instant as Melanie stretches her fake smile to the point she's showing gums and asks, through gritted teeth, Hi. What's your name?Ivy can tell there's something off with the girl in front of her, but she still gives her a polite greeting. Hello. My name is Ivy. How do you do?Melanie completely ignores the question and turns back to me. You never told me you invited someone else, Rylan. Melanie's smile goes harsh. I am sorry, but unless I give the okay, no one outside of school is invited. She glares at Ivy. I'll have to ask you to leave.Ivy tilts her head, befuddled at the sudden hostility. You want me to go?Melanie rolls her eyes. Uh, yeah. I just said that.Ivy stares down at her feet, ashamed and no doubt guilty for the wrong reason. She nods. Okay.She begins to leave but I grab her wrist and pull her back against me. I glare at Melanie. What if I don't want her to go? I growl.Yeah, Melanie!To my relief, I see Aidan and Nadia wiggle through the crowd. Neither of them look very happy; Nadia's downright fuming. Despite the whole my liking Ivy case, she's still there for me.Don't go telling people they can't be here, Nadia growls, her eyes flashing dangerously. Who died and made you think you can boss everyone around?Last time I checked, this is my party and therefore I choose who I invite or not, declares Melanie with an obvious edge in her voice.That's no excuse! The only reason you want her gone is so you can make Rylan your new boy toy, which he doesn't want!Oh, like you know him so well?I am his best friend, bitch! Excuse me!?ENOUGH!With one word, I bring the argument to an end and all attention back on me.Nadia's right, I state, glowering at Melanie. Nadia's always been right. You know one of the reasons I came, other than to show Ivy a good time? It was to tell you to leave me alone, okay? I. Don't. Like. You. So leave me alone!It was like I announced I farted. Everyone starts whispering with disbelief. No one has ever turned down the advances of Melanie Sweet—until now. It's turning into a night of first for them.Melanie obviously isn't used to this, as her face reddens like a tomato, her beautifully manicured hands clench into fists and her usually angelic face morphs into a full-blown snarl.How sweet.
Colleen Boyd