The first part of a short story inspired by the story “Stolen Time” on the show “Evil Things.”
“You self-centered, arrogant — “
The rest of her insult was lost in tears as she threw the gold pocket watch at him, hitting him square in the chest.
She always did have good aim, he thought with a surge of admiration.
“I hope you suffer!” she screamed at him through a fresh wave of tears.
He wanted to close the distance between them, to hold her, to make things right, but he was afraid. How could she ever forgive him? How could he ever forgive himself?
. . . . . .
He fingered the watch gently, taking in every inch of the metal, from the knob used to open it to the delicate chain it was attached to. He knew why she had symbolically, violently, and angrily given this back to him. He ran his hand over the engraving: I will never leave you.
He had gotten it for her as an anniversary present. He didn’t remember which one now, but he remembered her bright smile upon receiving it. She had always liked older things, and he had known she would love the watch. He had gotten it engraved for her, as a promise. He remembered smiling as he watched her immediately place it in a place of honor in her work studio.
Well, you’ve gone and messed that up, he thought, angry and heartbroken. No use in trying now.
He’d never meant to hurt her; he’d never meant to let it get so far.
He didn’t really know what happened or how it had happened. What had started as an argument, something to blow over in a few weeks at most, turned into something so much more. He had gotten confused and lost in his hurt, and he didn’t know how to cope with that.
. . . . . .
He blinked as he slowly woke up. He was standing in the hallway of his small apartment. He blinked again and looked around, first with his eyes, then moving his head. He had no idea how he had gotten there, but now that he was awake the depression that was on hold during sleep came back with a vengeance.
He sighed, shook his head, and walked the few steps back to his bedroom. Almost on instinct, out of sheer habit, he picked up the gold pocket watch and clicked it open. It was stuck on the time it had been that day when she threw it at him. He sighed again and closed it, placing it on his bedside table. He looked at his phone. 2:45 a.m.
He sauntered the short distance into his kitchen and poured himself a shot of his favorite whiskey. Then another. Still, the monsters of depression, anger, and regret were there, but now he also felt exhausted and drained.
Four shots later, he decided to get back to bed.
. . . . . .
It started small, losing track of short bouts of time in transit and at work. He would get to work without remembering how he got there. He initially chalked it up to routine; of course he didn’t remember because he did it so often, so his mind wandered. He would have no memory of assigning tasks to employees or of emails he had sent. He would forget he had attended meetings or forget certain assignments. He would have no recollection of conversations.
He would get home and have a few drinks, trying to dull the ever-present anger and pain. The blackouts got worse and seemed to lead to bouts of violence, bouts which he never remembered.
. . . . . .
He blinked, slowly returning to reality. He could feel the hard ground on his lean frame, and his head throbbed as if he’d had too much to drink.
How much did I have last night? he asked himself, moving his left hand to cup his head.
That’s when he noticed the blood.
It stained his shirt and his pants. It was all over his hands and arms. He frantically looked all over himself, for once hoping the injury was his. When he found nothing, though, he panicked.
He didn’t remember getting into a fight. Then again, he didn’t remember much of anything these days. Ever since he had walked out on his wife months before, he’d suffered these blackouts. But no one had ever gotten hurt.
Until now, apparently.
Anxious, he ran home and called everyone he knew. They all answered, but were beyond confused. He called the police, desperate for information. They had none and asked probing questions he didn’t want to answer.
He picked up the pocket watch from his bedside table, where it had lain for months. The gold had a slight oily sheen now from all the times he had picked it up in moments of despair. As he so often had in the past few months, he picked up the watch and stared at it, as if hoping it would speak to him and tell him what to do.