Author’s note: Thank you, Stevie Turner for providing the fist line to help break my writer’s block. I hope Pete enjoys it.
Pete would never have thought it could happen to him.
The day was just another rainy day that were so common in his village. It was a life of too much time on hand where weekdays felt like weekends with no deadlines in sight. Retirement was so relaxed, Pete sometimes wished for a little excitement–something…anything that would challenge status quo. The morning walk with his dog was squelchy and uneventful as usual.
They were on their way back when he saw something lying on the road–a small round surface reflecting the grey sky above him. He bent down to look at it. It seemed to be a small pocket watch, clearly an antique piece. It had too many hands and looked one of a kind.
He wondered who dropped it. They must be worried out of their mind. The piece was worth a small fortune. He mentally debated whether he should leave it there for the owner to return for it or if he should take it to the police station just in case the owner had made a complaint.
Still undecided, he bent further to get a closer look. The brass exterior was slightly worn by the years and his hands itched to pick it up and see up close if it really was as old as it looked. So, he picked it up and almost dropped it out of surprise. The piece was pulsing faintly like a state-of-art racing car ready for a ride. The glass front had a tiny latch to open the face. He wondered if it was meant for the visually impaired so they could touch the hands to read the time. Or may be it was meant to adjust the hands, when needed. None of the many hands had moved so far–may be the watch didn’t work anymore and the owner threw it out, not knowing the value of the piece.
He opened the latch to adjust the time, though it was difficult to guess which one of its many hands was the hour-hand and which one was the minute-hand. So, he just touched the most decorated hand assuming, like on all old clocks, it would denote hours.
He felt a rush of wind, but it died down as soon as it started. In fact, he would have sworn he had imagined it if the leash in his hand wasn’t still swaying in the aftermath of the wind. Suddenly gripped by a fear like he had never felt before and he let the watch fall on the road. He knew something was terribly wrong and all he wanted to do was to rush to the wife he had left behind an hour back.
So, he tugged at his dog’s leash to get going but his pet wouldn’t budge. It started barking, trying to pull away. Wondering what caught its attention, he turned to face it and found that his dog was gone and in his place was a dog of a much younger age.
He looked around and the neighborhood looked different; well, not exactly different but greener and sort of younger. The Oak tree on his right seemed to have put on much more leaves than it had in the past few years–
Maybe, he was hallucinating. Or may be it was all a weird dream, he decided. The dog was sniffing him now. Seeming satisfied with its enquiry, it gave Pete’s hand a quick lick and started tugging the leash towards Pete’s home. Pete would have liked to go back to the park where he probably switched his own dog’s leash with this dog. But he was anxious to see his wife. Something in his gut told him that he will not like what he finds there.
So, together they rushed towards his home. He didn’t meet anyone on the way which did nothing to assuage his fear. When he reached, it was difficult to believe what he was seeing. The house was brighter, as if freshly painted and the garden was a riot of colours with flowers growing all over the place. It hadn’t been like this for several years since he quit gardening because of his backache. It couldn’t be his house. He was certain he had taken the wrong lane. He moved backwards, lest he was charged for trespassing.
But before he could take more than a couple of steps away, someone ventured out. His wife? Has she done something to her hair? She didn’t have an appointment at the beauty parlour, did she? Her skin was tighter around her face and her hair were more blonde than gray, as if the several previous years didn’t happen at all.
And she was looking at him in concern, “Oh my, Pete! What happened to you?”
He pinched himself to bring himself out of this dream. When nothing happened, he swept his eyes across the yard to find something to read. He had heard that if stuck in a nightmare, trying to read brings you out. So, while his wife kept asking questions with a worried expression about his out-of-breath countenance and sudden wrinkles, he spotted the newspaper on the coffee table under the portico where he always left it. He opened it. The front cover talked about Donald Trump winning Presidential elections in the US and how he would replace the current President Obama. How was it possible? Joe Biden had become the President of the US last year. Another election wasn’t scheduled for another five years!
He checked the date on the new paper: 21 January, 2017. The paper was new though…not something that carried 7-year-old news. His wife was still asking the same question he had no answer to. The truth dawned upon him and he rushed back to where he had seen the watch, his wife in tow.
The watch was gone. He had just got his forever wish. His life’s adventure had just begun.