Short Story Saturday: Striking Midnight

Genre: Poetic Prose
Rating: Everyone
Time of Writing: December 2013
Image from

There stood a man, all dressed in black
On New Years Eve (we’ll call him Jack).
While inside his house he stood so warm
Outside there toiled a winter storm,
And while outside the winter storm toiled
Inside his head he’d decided he’d spoiled
The year he’d been given, this twenty-thirteen.
He knew what’d happened, how he’d been.
These drying walls could tell the tale
Of every dinner dish and pail
He’d washed at home, not going out
Too often, and now here he’d pout.

But then, oh my, pray tell, what’s this?
A sound where there wasn’t! Something’s amiss!
In Jack’s house there now sat a man
He sat on Jack’s couch with no look of a plan,
But it’s not so much the intrusion that’d got Jack in a bother,
It’s the look of it! In his life he had seen nothing odder:
It had itself a clock-shaped face
And clock hands in a mustache shape!
Bronze gears whirred through its brassy head
With a noise so soothing it might put one to bed,
Whilst a pendulum swung where a tie ought to be
On his antique tux of an unusual green!

“I’m Clock!” says he. “Or… Father Time,
“Don’t worry, it’ll be sublime!
You think this year here’s been for naught,
But time will show no lack of blot
That you have left on life’s great parchment.”

Then this curious thing grabbed Jack by the hand.
“Hey listen!” yelled Jack. “What you think you got planned?”
Then Clock-or-Father-Time looked back at Jack,
Let out himself a strange old laugh,
And whisked him off into the night.

Poor Jack was in the biggest fright.

They were flying not into the sky,
But some loud turning gears, they were flying by!
A tunnel of clocks and gears and light!
Oh, it was a most certainly wonderful sight,
But not to Jack – he’d already thought his year quite sucky,
And now it’s last night seemed going most unlucky.

They landed in a daytime scene,
The grass below was lush and green,
And Jack began to watch himself in fear.
It had happened here earlier this year,
Where he’d nearly hit someone in a car,
A man he hadn’t witnessed from afar.
He’d chatted on his phone a bit too long.
Thank goodness that his brakes were strong!

“That was all that this young man had needed,”
Said Clock. “The warning he’d so closely heeded
Was that life was short and to live it wisely.
Since then he’s lived it out quite nicely,
Helping out at charities,
Not spending it out frivolously,
As he would have done without your sudden guidance.”
Jack’s only answer was a solemn silence.

They landed in a near-night scene,
The ground below had been swept clean,
And Jack began to watch himself, and sighed.
He was sitting by a coworker’s side.
His time in the area had been tough.
He was moving to place where it wasn’t so rough.
He knew his hand on this guy’s shoulder he’d lay,
And he smiled as he heard himself say, “It’ll be ok.”

“It was odd for you to show affection,”
Said Clock, “But with time’s eyes and closer inspection,
The last thing you told him wouldn’t be true
If there wasn’t the kindly hand from you.
Afterwards he grabbed a job,
Got himself a wife, found God,
But was close to suicide without your guidance.”
Jack’s only answer was a solemn silence.

They’d landed in a darkened scene,
The ocean shined a shimmery sheen,
And he and his girlfriend walked along a dock.
A bell tolled out – “BONG!” the village clock.
He’d tossed ten dollars to a begging kid,
Seeing his reward, he’d near flipped a lid!
The boy thanked him for the gratuitous pay,
But Jack just walked on as he smiled and waved.

“He’d bought himself a flute,”
Said Clock, “with all that new loot.
He played it till he was pretty good,
And now if you go down to that part of the hood,
You’ll see he’s getting quite a crowd.
Trust me, Jack; you’ll sure be wowed,
But this year would’ve been his last without your guidance.”
Jack’s only answer was a solemn silence.

Jack and Clock traveled back,
To his house in the local flats,
And there stood Jack at his old window’s post,
Whilst in the background played some comedy roast,
And Clock sat there on the couch staring up at Jack.
“So you’ve been looking over this year past,”
Said Clock, “And I think you’ll find it was better than thought.
“A decent sum of good things you’d personally wrought,
Whether by purpose or by mistake,
You were where you needed to be, and never too late,
Even if it wasn’t where you thought.
By this time next year, you ought
Too look again, before getting such notions.
Useless? You must’ve had the wrong potion!”
Then with a twist of his mustache and a run of his gears,
He was lost in the night like a ghost from Shakespeare.

It’s about to strike midnight, and now Jack’s begun
To see the fantastical course that this year has run.
Changing others’ lives without his knowledge? How frightful!
But he had changed them for the better? How delightful.
For now he sees every scene come and gone,
It makes a difference, no matter how…



5 thoughts on “Short Story Saturday: Striking Midnight

      1. See, I do believe out inspiration is sometimes subliminal… And we don’t realise where we find our ideas from many times…!


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