The Clock of Emotion

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
July/August 2018

By Elisabeth Baer, Illustrated by Chloe Goodman


“Blast you, too, clock!” Aunt Stephanie screamed, hurling the beautiful clock of emotion into a ditch behind her home. Her emotion rapidly changed to misery and loneliness. “I am ruined!” The clock seemed to tremble hauntingly as Aunt Stephanie dropped to her knees and wept, head in her hands. An owl hooted as the darkness of night fell over the city. The moon rose like a ballerina in the ash black sky. Shy stars peeked out of the blackness and twinkled. The clock of emotion seemed to shiver with the unpredictable tick of Aunt Stephanie’s emotions. One second he ticked to misery, the next to anger, the next to loneliness, and then to sleep. There Aunt Stephanie lay, on the side of the ditch, a tear still streaming down her face.     

*          *          *

The wind whirled, the sirens rang, and voices screeched in terror. Aunt Stephanie slept and slept. Water gushed down the ditch. As the clock was being whisked away to sea, firefighters came and pulled Aunt Stephanie up from the water, dirt, and rubble of her house. Aunt Stephanie finally woke with a jump. No one saw the clock bobbling along in the icy, harsh water, though Aunt Stephanie did seem to take one last lamenting glance at the ditch. Then, with a flick of her brown, muddy hair, she left the clock to be seized by the sea.

White gulls flew above the clock like feathery angels, occasionally swooping down and pecking at the clock, thinking it to be a fish. This was an easy mistake to make because the moon shone on the clock’s ivory back, making it stand out in the dark ocean. The clock avoided the distraction, and simply sped up, leaving the gulls to find real fish. The clock felt like he had control of the sea.

The clock went down, down, down. Finally, BUMP! The clock hit the bottom of the ocean. The clock bobbled around, sand trailing behind him. At last, a fish swam over, followed by several of his friends. All of the fish—probably a grand sum of 85—seemed to be investigating the clock. Suddenly, all of the fish began to swim away in two single-file lines, about a fish length apart. They all glowed as they swam, faintly swaying with the flow of the water. The clock quickly picked up on what the fish were trying to say: follow us.

More fish and other creatures joined the lines, making a path going down a rocky slope and then up a seamount. On top of the huge seamount, there was a hole. The clock bobbled up the hill. Suddenly, a swift change in Aunt Stephanie’s emotions threw the clock off the mound, and onto the rocks beneath it. A sharp stone left a small scratch on the clock’s ivory back. With a creak, the clock righted himself and made his way up the seamount, and dropped down into the hole with very little hesitation. After all, the clock went to the bottom of the ocean. The clock could go to the bottom of a hole and have utter confidence in the fish. They knew the sea.

One of the curious fish followed the clock, watching to make sure he  arrived safely at his destination. The clock just kept falling, and falling, and falling.

Finally something warm, something very warm, blew up at the clock. The fish gently pushed the clock into a passage on the side of the hole, as not to be pushed out of the mound again by a hydrothermal vent.

The passage was narrow, dark, and stuffy. The clock of emotion had to turn sideways to get through. Then: something made out of wood appeared. As the clock neared the object, he realized it was a scary and mysterious old shipwreck, overgrown with barnacles. It was hidden underneath the seamount that encapsulated it. One half of the ship had already decayed. The fish motioned into the shipwreck, and the clock traveled in through a splintered hole on the side of the ship.

“If my owner truly appreciates and seeks good times, then I make the happiness feel longer, and the bad times feel shorter.”

The clock took a right, then a left, then a right, and then climbed up to the deck, as conducted by the fish. Then the clock was directed by the fish to go into what would have been the captain’s quarters.

Inside, behind the captain’s large desk, there sat a very small person, if you could call it that. It was more like a mermaid, except its ears were the wings of a butterfly, its eyes were entirely purple, and its hair was made out of seaweed. In the language of emotion, the being said, “Tell me, what is your emotion, clock?”

The clock responded, “Confusion.”

“Tell me your story, and your purpose. There you will find what you want, and that will lead you out of confusion.”

“My purpose is to regulate my owner’s emotions. If my owner truly appreciates and seeks good times, then I make the happiness feel longer, and the bad times feel shorter. When Aunt Stephanie first received me, she was young and promised to always seek good times. But it has been 47 years, and she is now lonely, miserable, and wretched. She no longer looks for the good times. In fact, she seeks nothing at all. I cannot regulate her emotions, so she threw me away. I have had many different owners since I was first created, and I have noticed a pattern among them. When my owner does not feel gratitude for the good times, then the bad times get longer, and the good times fly by. That is what happened to Aunt Stephanie. But in contrast, if my owner looks for good times and happiness, even when they are sad, then I can help them.”

“Oh, I see…” the being replied. “You want to be loved and used again. And, with you, time is not constant. Whoever finds you will be lucky. Now I shall send you on your way.”

The being stood with grace and began to swim out of the room, then down the stairs, and out the huge crack in the side of the ship. The clock banged on the sharp edge of the ship while exiting, and his scratch turned into a deep fracture. The clock and the fish followed the being through a nearly invisible hole in the ceiling. All of the sudden, the clock, the fish, and the being were at the surface of the water!

“Good luck, clock of emotion. By the way, I am the empress of the sea.” With that, the being and the fish disappeared.

The clock floated on the waves of the ocean. Once again, gulls came to eat him, thinking he was a fish. The rough tides swooped the clock way under the surface, and then threw the clock up in the air. Soon, the shore was in sight. The clock put all of his remaining strength into getting to the shore.

The clock washed up on shore. Children ran in the water around the clock, and parents collected shells. But there was one child, a young girl with thick, straight, black hair. She sat alone and noticed something glistening in the sand. She put down her book and walked over to see what it was. She picked it up and found it was a clock. She ran back to her seat and put it in her bag. Her parents soon walked up and said, “Let’s go home, Cecilia.”

At home, Cecilia marched to her room and began to examine the clock. She soon fell in love with it, and then felt a sudden comfort and control of her emotion. The clock had bonded with her, because she had loved it and gave it a home in her heart and mind.

The Clock of Emotion Elisabeth Baer

Elisabeth Baer, 10
Atlanta, GA

Untitled Chloe Goodman

Chloe Goodman, 7
Santa Cruz, CA

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3 Comments
 
  1. Kathy Mc Alpine July 3, 2018 at 2:15 pm Reply

    Elizabeth, this is a magnificent story! Your creative words and magnificent descriptions stirred my emotions and above all, reminded me to always see the happy times as the true gift they are and the sad times as the building blocks they are meant to be! You are blessed! Beautiful artwork, Chloe!!

  2. Maeve July 12, 2018 at 7:32 am Reply

    Love the artwork as well. The descriptions and emotions are used in a way of harmony.

  3. Cecilia July 15, 2018 at 6:28 pm Reply

    Artwork & story are fantastic! This was written beautifully and creatively. Artwork is beautiful as well.

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