The sun had already set when Dan reached the pub that spring evening. It was probably a bad idea to go anywhere near the place after that last AA-meeting, bu the didn’t care. It was Friday night and he desperately needed a drink. The phonecall he recieved earlier that day was still clinging to his mind, slowly turning into a blur by each bottle of beer that went through his throat, but one sentence refused to go away:
”I’m sorry, Dan, your mother passed away.”
Those words were still ringing in Dan’s ears when he woke up in my bed the next day, the hangover banging to his head like a boxer on steroids. He had no recollection of how he got there, why his naked chest was covered in bruises or how his clothes had ended up in the hamper across the room. Then he spotted a note on the bedstand. It took some effort for him to reach it and he didn’t feel any better after reading it.
I left you a sandwich in the fridge. Eat it, take a shower and, for goodness sake, brush your teeth! I don’t know what the hell you’ve been eating, but the manure we use on the ranch smells like roses compared to your breath!
This is the last time I’m doing this, Dan. It’s over, remember? I don’t have to deal with your shit anymore. I already told the bartender to call Jordan at the sheriff’s office the next time you pick a fight at the pub again.
P.S. Dad told me about your mom’s accident. Tell Jimmy I’m sorry.”
Dan didn’t know what’s worse, being reminded of losing Gina, or that he forgot all about Jimmy. That little brother of his was all the family Dan had left now. After he cleaned myself up and ate the sandwich, he called him to talk about their mom’s funeral.
A few weeks after the funeral, Dan went back to his mom’s house. Since none of them could afford to keep it, he and Jimmy agreed that it was a good idea to sell it. Since he was planning to move out as soon as he graduated highschool next week, Dan had already told him that Jimmy could have the first pick of anything there. It was the right thing to do, Dan thought, since Jimmy still lived in that house and was closer to their mom. It wasn’t until he got to the house himself that he found out how literally Jimmy had taken his words. There was a note from him on the kitchen counter:
Sorry for not being here, got stuff to do. Help yourself to what’s left of this dump before the realtor shows up, my roommates already helped me move everything I wanted to the new apartment.
Dude, remember how you used to come home so drunk, you thrashed my room, peed on my bed and broke half my stuff, when we were kids? NOW WE’RE EVEN, BRO!
The house, a small, fancy estate in the countryside, had been totally cleaned out. The furniture, the kitchen appliances, the cutlery, their mom’s stuff, the urn with their dad’s ashes, the family photos Jimmy had taken it all and Dan couldn’t blame him for it one bit. He searched through the house, hoping that Jimmy would have left at least something behind for him to take home. It didn’t have to be anything big, important or valuable. He just wanted something to remember his mom by. Anything would do, even then it hit him. He ran up to his old bedroom. It was just as empty as it was the day he moved out of the house myself. The only thing left was an old, creepy clock that was standing on the window sill. Dan picked it up and sat down on the floor. He remembered it well. His mom told him his grandma had given it to her. Dan used it mostly to scare Jimmy, who thought it was haunted. Those memories felt so real when Dan sat there on his old bedroom floor, staring at the clock in his hands, which was slowly being covered with my tears
As soon as he came home, Dan placed the clock on the mantlepiece, sat down and just stared at it. It was still ugly as hell, he thought, but it looked pretty good there. The more he stared at it, the more he felt himself going back in time. He was back in his teens, still living in that old house. His mom was still alive, Jimmy had just reached puberty and their mom’s ex still came and went as he pleased. The smell of pancakes from the kitchen made Dan hungry, but there had been none left for him. As the ex ate his share, the mom made a sandwich and handed it to Dan with a smile. He didn’t thank her. He grabbed the sandwich, stole the ex’s car keys and walked out of the house. Dan could still feel the grip of the ex’s hands around his neck after he got back home. He could hear his mom try to pry him off him, while Jimmy called the cops. Dan didn’t thank her for that either, nor did he thank her for kicking that bastard out for good. He was more concerned with how badly he had to move out of that house and how much his life sucked at the time. Dan rubbed his throat as he found himself back on the recliner in his own livingroom.
The following day, Dan spotted Gina from across the street on his way home from work. She was sitting on the bus stop, texting with a smile on her face. Dan wanted to walk over there and say hello, but the thought slipped his mind when a jeep pulled over in front of her. He could feel his heart sink when she got into the jeep and kissed the driver. Since they were driving towards the pub, Dan figured the liqour store would be a safer bet if he wanted to drink his sorrows away. He didn’t. He didn’t deserve to forget. Instead, he returned to his livingroom recliner and glanced at the clock on the mantlepiece. He remembered all the times his mom tried to help him with his girl troubles. Dan never knew how, but she always had a good solution for every problem he had. He remembered the last time he saw his mom. She had bailed him out of jail for punching a guy he thought Gina was cheating on him with. In his drunken daze, he had failed to see that it was Jordan, Gina’s sister from the sheriff’s office, he had punched. As Dan remembered that moment, he could hear his mom’s words clearly as she had said them right this moment:
”Danny, this has gotten far enough. You know how much Gina loves you and would never hurt you. You need to clean up your act as soon as possible, or you’ll lose her.”
Dan knew she was right, but he still told her to mind her own business. Gina dumped him the following day and he never saw his mom again after she dropped him off at his house. He should have listened. He should have apologized. He didn’t and he regretted it now.
The days went by and the same thing went on every day now. Dan woke up, got to work and got home to stare at the clock and think back to any memory he had involving his mom. Not once during that time did he ever have anything to drink other than water or apple juice. He even got the courage to share one of the memories at one of the AA-meetings, telling everyone there how much he wished he could have another moment with his mom to apologize for how bad he had been. He recieved a lot of questions after that, but one question confused him more than the rest:
”Is that how you got that scar on your arm?”
Dan checked his arm. There was indeed a scar there, just like in the memory he had shared. He had climbed a tree and scratched his arm on a branch. This was years ago, before Jimmy was born, and the scar had completely vanished by the time he finished high school. Yet, there it was again, just as it was when his mom had removed the bandages while she was still working as a nurse at the hospital. After the meeting, Dan rushed home and took a closer look at the clock. He couldn’t see anything special about it at first glance. Then he looked at the bottom. The text ”April 4th, 1990” had been written on it with a red marker. It wasn’t there the last time Dan checked. He hated that day. Without thinking, he stared at the clock and found himself back in his old bedroom as a ten-year-old, wearing a white pyjamas. he grabbed the clock and checked again. The text wasn’t there. With the clock still in his hand, he grabbed a red marker from his desk and ran downstairs. He could see his dad wave goodbye at the front door. Dan yelled at him to wait. His dad turned around as Dan held up the clock and the marker, asking him to write today’s date on it. His dad gave him a funny look and asked him why. Dan told him to humour him. After giving off a sigh, his dad took the marker and wrote the date on the bottom of the clock. Then he gave it back to Dan, gave him a hug and left before Dan could say a word. Dan didn’t remember this part ever happening before. He only recalled the sound of the crash from the speeding delivery truck that rammed into his dad’s car as it leaves the driveway. Dan ran to the window. He saw his dad’s car leave the garage. The dad stops halfway to wave goodbye. Then when the delivery truck passed by the driveway. No crash. Dan waved back in shock. He could feel his mom stand behind him, with a three-year-old Jimmy in her arms. Then she looked out the window and saw their dad waving from his car and told Jimmy to wave back. When the car drove away, Dan turned around and followed his mom to the livingroom. He walked right up to her, put his arms around her and said the one sentence he have never said before in his life:
”I love you, mom.”