Tag: lonely

The Clock with a House in Its Walls

Once there was a very large clock. It was a clock tower, really, the kind that towers over the buildings around it and has gears inside that would make lovely traffic circles. With how tall the clock tower was, I suppose it wasn’t entirely surprising that a house could fit inside.

What may seem surprising was that anyone wanted to live there at all. The clock chimed loudly every hour from sun up to sun down. The neighboring buildings were well insulated, but the poor pedestrians near the tower when it chimed usually complained that their ears rang for at least an hour afterward.

It was ten times worse inside the tower. The sound echoed off the walls and multiplied until even the gears started to vibrate and hum. Living inside the clock tower would be dangerous, unless you were willing to leave for a short time every hour.

So, why did anyone want to live there? Rent was cheap. Very, very cheap. Since the people in the house kept an eye on the clock, they lived there for free.

Free rent in the middle of the city? The Smith family was willing to overlook a few minor problems. Plus, there were no annoying neighbors, or any neighbors at all, and rats and pigeons never stayed long. Neither did any annoying guests.

Living inside the clock tower gave their parties and get-togethers a definite time limit. Everyone learned to be punctual, very punctual. No one overstayed their welcome twice if they stayed behind when their hosts ran out the door, down the stairs, and across the street before the clock started to chime.

And so all was going quite well for the Smith family in the clock tower, until one day, their mostly quiet life was interrupted by a visitor who didn’t mind the noise at all. They had the misfortune to be haunted by a ghost who decided that he could almost feel the vibrations when the clock chimed. As a ghost, he missed being able to feel things, so he decided to stay.

In-between the hourly chiming, the ghost chattered endlessly about all the things he missed about being alive. He was a lonely ghost, and was delighted to find a new audience that only ran away from him once an hour. The poor Smith family wasn’t sure that they could handle this new inconvenience.

But the rent was better than cheap. Free rent in the middle of the city is nearly impossible to find. And the ghost wasn’t unfriendly. He was just noisy and glowed in the dark.

They got used to the ghost. After a while, his endless tales became mostly background noise. He never stopped to listen to replies, so he had no idea that no one was listening to him, either. The way he glowed in the dark was fine too, kind of like a large, person-shaped nightlight.

However, things weren’t quite back to normal. Fewer people came to visit. A noisy ghost was a bit too much on top of the hourly evacuations. The Smiths mostly didn’t mind.

That was until the ghost invited all his friends to move in, too. That was much less fine. One ghost didn’t make that much noise or glow excessively. A houseful? Not so great.

Even though they didn’t really take up any space, the house felt crowded. The noise level was constantly at a dull roar. The house was lit up by the equivalent of a set of stadium lights.

If you have ever tried to sleep while attending a football game and sitting in the stands of the team that was winning, you understand the difficulties they were facing. The Smith family decided to hold a family meeting.

They invited the ghosts, as they would likely be attending anyway. Some of the ghosts stopped talking as the Smiths sat down at the table. Mr. Smith cleared his throat. “We would like to talk about an important problem. This house is much too noisy and too bright.” The few quiet ghosts shrugged and started talking again.

“Do you think we could vacuum them up?” the smallest Smith child asked. “I saw an ad for a vacuum that could vacuum up anything.”

The Smiths had no carpet, so they didn’t have a vacuum. But, Mr. Smith thought it was worth a try. The next time they ran out to avoid the clock chiming, they bought the vacuum from the ad.

It really could vacuum up everything.

Once their house was back to as normal as a house inside a clock can be, they buried the vacuum in a graveyard late at night. They said several prayers over the grave, just in case. And they returned home to a quiet, empty house.

And they lived happily ever after, rent free and ghost free. The End.

Isaac’s Adventures Underwater: Chapter Eighteen

“I can give you a ride to the next island on my rowboat,” the lady said.

“You have a rowboat?” Isaac looked around.

The lady laughed. “Of course I do. I’m the Queen of Everything, remember?” She pointed at a scrap of notebook paper and it turned itself into a rowboat. “See?” She pointed at the rowboat, and once again it was a scrap of paper.

Isaac looked at the paper with surprise. “Wait, didn’t we need that?”

The lady raised an eyebrow. “Why carry that heavy old thing to the beach when I can change something into a boat there?”

“Right.” Isaac felt foolish. He followed the lady out the door, where she changed into a swan and launched herself into the air.

“I’ll meet you at the beach,” she said, and then flew away.

Isaac trudged across the bridge without looking down and picked his way through the swamp. Then he walked around the beach until he found the swan waiting for him, preening her wings.

“What took you so long?” she asked.

“I can’t fly.”

The swan fluffed up its wings. “Well, that’s no excuse. Hurry up then. The rowboat is waiting, just over there.”

Isaac walked over to the rowboat, and then turned to look at the swan. “Aren’t you coming?”

“No, I don’t want to leave my island. I want to watch the closet doors and be there when they open. But, once you’re rowing away, I’ll send some lucky feathers along to guide you. Just catch them before they hit the water, or they’re not lucky any more.”

Isaac looked at the little rowboat. “I don’t know how to row.”

“You can do it, I believe in you,” the swan said. “Did that help?”

“Not really, no.”

The swan sighed and turned into a sheep. “Hop in and I’ll give you a push to start.”

Isaac climbed into the rowboat and held tightly to the oars and the sheep shoved the rowboat into the waves. The sheep changed into a large white whale that gave the boat one large final push, and Isaac and the rowboat were out to sea.

Overhead, a dove flapped its wings and several feathers blew off to the left. Isaac tried to push the oars back through the water to pull the boat forward. It didn’t work very well. The water seemed heavy, like he was pushing through cement. The feathers floated down, just out of reach.

Isaac remembered what the lady said, and reached out, trying to catch the feathers before he hit the water. A small breeze caught the largest, prettiest feathers and flung them far away. But nearby, a little fluffy bit of down was tumbling through the air.

Reaching out as far as he dared, Isaac’s fingers just barely managed to close around the bit of fluff. It dissolved like a snowflake when it hit his palm. The other feathers disappeared into the water. Now what?

A dolphin popped its head out of the water. “Have we met before?” she asked. “You seem familiar somehow.”

“I think you escorted me to land once,” Isaac said. “Thank you for that.”

“I do try to help where I can,” the dolphin said. “Say, did you happen to need help again?”

“Yes please.” Isaac held up the oars. “I don’t know how to row.”

“Well, show me what you’ve done so far.”

Isaac tried scooping the water again. “It’s too heavy,” he said.

“Then scoop less water,” the dolphin suggested.

Isaac tried again. The boat inched forward. The dolphin followed, giving encouragement and advice, until an island appeared on the horizon. The dolphin whistled. “I need to go now. Good luck, friend.”

“Thank you, friend,” Isaac said. And he rested a moment, and then rowed his way to shore. Rowing was hard work, much harder than he’d thought.