At first, my watch was like a foreign parasite, and I took it off sometimes just to feel the air on my wrist. In order to remedy this, I always left it one hole too big. I didn’t know there was a watch-wearing protocol, so I put it on my right.

It was painfully easy to become ensnared in the prison of time, dragged along in its frantic dance. The seconds were just slow enough to evade my efforts to bring the hours closer, and just fast enough to constantly remind me that time was running out. That in thirty-two minutes, I was to cease my reading. That in forty-two minutes, I was to begin my homework. That in one hundred and thirty-two minutes, I was to pack my bag, leave my house, and go to cadets, where the nineteenth and twentieth hours will tighten their grip on my movements.

When years of youth lie before you, filled with the unknown and uncertain, time is comforting. I could always peek down at the face framed by jewel tones and know that even if I didn’t know who I was—lost in a sea of middle school social complexities, unsure of where to put my foot next—at least I knew something about where I was. Without me ever noticing, the watch melted into my skin, becoming an inseparable part of me.

My age started catching up with the numbers coming out of people’s mouths when they tried to guess it, and life was no longer boundless. The seconds started to slip away, the numbers constantly telling me that there was so much to do, and so little time with which to do it. It was like a constant race, a race in which time was always nipping at my heels, a race I couldn’t forfeit because I had to win. By this time, my watch started to bear dents and scratches. The paint on the logo faded, and the straps showed wrinkles, at risk of breaking apart at any moment. Where they touched my wrist, they were an inflamed velvet, instead of their original purple. By this time, I had been through soul-soaking rain and feet-freezing cold, and so had my watch. That comforted me, that whatever I went through, even if the rest of the crowd walked passively by my loner self, my watch was always with me.

The first sign of illness occurred at night. I was pulled out of sleep. Staring blankly at the closet, as if staring hard enough would cause the demonic clown hiding in there to finally jump out, after which I would stare blankly at it. Oh, and remember when I stared off into space and didn’t hear that person calling me until ten seconds later? And remember when I spelt my own name wrong and everyone started laughing at me? And remember that exceedingly embarrassing time in grade 1 when I started crying in class and everyone thought I was insane? I wondered how much more remembering I had to do until the sun making its way into the sky saved me. I looked at my watch, pressing the button that made the digits light up in a neon sage for just a bit longer than I really needed them to. Except this time, they didn’t last long enough for me to properly read the time. They faded tiredly back to darkness, and I was alone again. That’s when I knew, and I didn’t try to read the time again. I did not sleep well.

I am convinced that I talked to a harbinger of death, and I told the harbinger so. We were in line, the air wavering between seasons. Yellow dots littered the ground like sad, trampled sunflower petals. How do you still have that watch? I didn’t know. It had been more than 4 years by then. I only fidgeted nervously, spinning it around my wrist.

That weekend, its audacious digits faded to a gloomy grey. I held it up at various angles, wondering if perhaps it was a trick of the light. It was not. I looked away for a second, and when my eyes made their way back, asking for answers, the watch was silent.

Wading through the first stage of grief, I still wore it for a couple days, hoping I wouldn’t feel so lonely. What time is it? How much do I have left? Is it a Sunday or a Monday? And I felt for its face every few seconds, only to be met with stone-cold blankness.

As I write this last bit, I still feel its phantom sitting on my wrist, the strange sensation of my wrist touching the computer where it used to hover.

Photo: Fancycrave1 on