GENTLE COUNTRY

Twas a nice, well-furnished house that he lived in. The kitchen took up just enough space: not too little as in completely cramped and hopelessly unergonomic, not too big as in overly vain and extravagant. It was just the right size, with a brazen stove, an arctic freezer and an impeccable sink without the slightest trace of leaks. Above the sink was a large window, which revealed a lush garden with a majestic oak and innumerable flowers of every shape, size and colour imaginable. The birds chirped happily as they fussed over their nests perched atop the tree’s powerful limbs while bumblebees darted to and fro, zealously engaged in their usual mindless busy-bodying.

The Gentleman stood at the sink, with a cloth over his shoulder and his hands holding a china plate under the trickling faucet. Here was a tired old man, with thinning hair and a bushy, silvery moustache; a man who had spent his whole life working toward owning this paradise of a house, only to find out that his two children cared very little for it. Indeed, when those teenagers of his weren’t shuttered away in their sumptuous rooms, they scurried throughout the house, bickering seamlessly as they went.

Whenever the Gentleman tried to quell the quarrels, both belligerents showered him with abuse. He never cared enough about their problems, or so they claimed while standing in the majestic dwelling he had provided for them. Besides, his advice was useless. It was antiquated and obsolete.

And so one day the Gentleman couldn’t take it anymore. He tore off the clock hanging over the kitchen sink and he popped it open. He took a hold of the minute and hour hands and snapped them out, so that only the seconds would remain. Upon grasping the second hand he hesitated and eventually let go. He wasn’t brave or dumb enough to bring himself to make time stand still, but this was close enough: the household would now relive the same minute over and over again. That was all he would have to deal with from that point on.

He made sure to do so during a precious lull in the hour-long argument currently taking place at the feet of the staircase. It was one of those moments, when one of the teenagers struggled to come up with a rebuttal to what the other had said: they could only glare at each other, fumingly and silently. It was at that moment that the Gentleman disabled the clock and thus tweaked the continuum of time and space in his favour.

Thus he set the clock back over the window and went back to the dishes. The seconds ticked and tocked; each time the hand struck the big “12”, the household would relive the same moment all over again. The two teenagers would face off, fists clenched and teeth gritted, but they would be unable to say anything. The same song would chirp from the beaks of the birds outside, the same exact breeze would course through the half-open window and make the curtains wave in precisely the same laid-back, free-flowing manner than sixty seconds prior.

Those two teenagers of his would be mercifully quiet. As for the Gentleman, he would pick up the same old rag and wipe the same china plate at the bottom of the sink. The same particles of water would trickle out of the faucet. They would drop squarely in the exact same locations on the smooth, stainless surface.

Yes, this is what the Gentleman chose to do forever and ever: he would scrape off the filth until the pearly white dish was wholly unblemished, he would rinse it as thoroughly as he could and he would set it gently on the drying rack, in just the right compartment as to ensure that it wouldn’t fall or be damaged by the addition of other objects.

However, sixty seconds later that particular plate would be right back in the sink and the cycle would repeat itself. It would have seemed futile to some, and completely absurd to most people. But this was the way in which the Gentleman decided to stop trying to resolve the never-ending conflict that ravaged his family.

He gave up on making them see how much they had to be thankful for, how hard he had worked to make them happy. He chose to put all of that behind him. He chose to spend the rest of eternity doing the dishes.

Twas a pity, that this was the only thing he could ever get right in that big, nice house of his…

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