Oops. This story violates the Wicked Wednesday rules because it is (way) too long. But gentle host Marie kindly gave me permission to link anyway. Fortunately, length is relative (as is time)…
« C’est le temps que tu as perdu pour ta rose qui fait ta rose si importante. »
There was nothing to feel guilty about, yet the sound of my telephone unsettled me. Nobody ever called me, except for my mother. But she used to ring me in the evening, not around noon.
“Bart, this is Isa.”
“Hello Isa.” My apprehension turned into nervous surprise.
“You’re tech-savvy, aren’t you? I need you. Urgently.”
She spoke in a hasty, tuneful voice. I knew Isa from the lectures at university. We attended lessons together. Or, to be honest, I participated in an optional course because Isa did. I could deal with the extra effort because my studies went rather smoothly. Moreover, Lorentz transformations are a mathematical piece of cake, so during the lectures on that subject I could afford to fully direct my attention to staring at Isa. Unsurprisingly, she hardly noticed me. Studying was about the only thing that went easy during my time at university. I wasn’t interested in going out, the city was a source of unwelcome stimuli that distracted me and made me feel restless, and I was too clumsy and weird to establish meaningful social relations. Let alone to make a pass at Isa.
“Ehm…well… yes. What’s the problem? I could drop by tomorrow if…”
“Not tomorrow. Now. The clock is broken. Get on your bicycle and come over. You know the address.”
She hung up and left me puzzled.
True. I earned some extra cash by repairing stuff. Computers and tv’s, washing machines and heating equipment, it didn’t really matter. I installed and mended everything, preferably something with an engine or a moving mechanism of sorts, the smaller the better, ideally watches. I would repair a damaged IWC or Patek Philippe for half the astronomical price a jeweler charged, which had produced a loyal customer base since my first year. The earnings enabled me to pay the fee for my study of mathematics and to rent my studio. More importantly, it provided focus and tranquility.
Ten minutes later I was on my bicycle, a set of hastily collected tools and instruments in my backpack. Isa lived with a landlady in a slightly posh suburb. Once, after an evening lecture, I had dropped her off there. The kiss on the cheek she had given me grew uncontrollably in the following weeks, I do admit that now. Like me, Isa was a loner. She was blond, not very tall, and pleasantly introverted. She had a gentle, almost angel-like presence, and in ages long gone she would have been a perfect model for a devout statue of Maria or a pieta. But in my sweaty dreams I encouraged the innocent student to transform into a shameless woman, a goddess of lust who knowingly and willingly seduced me and offered me her body. Isa unchained desires in me which I – young, clumsy and timid as I was – stubbornly tried to deny. In short, I treaded the pedals with force primarily for Isa, not for a broken timepiece.
But it wasn’t Isa who opened the villa’s front door.
“Ah, the clock guy. Do come in.”
The woman was pale-faced and looked tired. In spite of her apparent fatigue I noticed the delicate features of her face. Her left eye was just a tiny fraction smaller that her right eye, her jawline graceful. Somehow she appeared familiar. It annoyed me that I was unable to establish her age. Older than me, younger than my mother, that was all I could say. She was entirely dressed in black. Without further ado she let me in and lead the way. Her high heels ticked on the black and white tiles like a clock. She did not walk, she strode. I felt the blushing glow of my face when I realised I was looking at her behind and her calves. In her elegance, she did not fit the picture I had of a landlady.
“Isn’t Isa here?” I asked when she led me into a room that looked like a library. Cupboards filled with countless books were lined up to the high, ornamented ceiling. A chaise-longue stood on an immense Persian rug.
“Don’t worry. You’ll meet her later. Belle.”
“Excuse me?” I muttered.
“Belle. That is my name.”
With a faint smile she extended her arm and I meekly shook her hand. It felt cold.
She turned her head and I followed her gaze. On a small table in the center of the room there was a rectangular object, around twenty inches high.
“The clock,” Belle said.
I walked over to the table, kneeled, and attentively looked at the timepiece. The enclosure was made of anthracite, adorned with floral motives that indicated an art nouveau origin. The circular white clock face, that formed the background to two hands, was empty. There were no numerals on it. To my surprise, I heard a delicate ticking sound and when I watched closer I saw how the hands moved, ever so slowly.
“But it’s running,” I said.
“That is the problem,” Belle replied from behind my back. Her voice was weak, as if it the words were painful. “This clock shouldn’t run. At least not in the way it is running now. There’s something wrong with the mechanism. You will hopefully see that when you open it. I will leave you to it, because I know you prefer to work in silence. It is important that you fix it. I will know when you’re ready.”
I did not pay much attention to Belle’s words, curious as I was about the clock’s interior. I opened the little door at the back of the timepiece and I gasped. Countless escapements, anchors, adjustment screws, spirals and coils. A maze of pins, sprockets, wheels and forks. Never before had I seen anything this complex and even after closer inspection I couldn’t figure out the logic.
I was about to give up. How on earth could I repair something I did not understand? But I wasn’t planning on losing my reputation, especially not while working on Isa’s request. I took a deep breath. It was designed. It is a system. There will be order and structure. Against my habit I decided to let experience and intuition be my guide. After hours of careful disassembly, which I meticulously documented while my thoughts of Isa vanished almost completely, I found the culprit. Hidden deep within the interior of the clock, a miniscule sprocket was tilted and blocked the anchor that should provide its mechanical heartbeat. I carefully repaired it and, using my notes, put all parts back in their original place. Then, I wound up the clock using the old metal key that was on the table. I noticed how the drive spring built up tension as I turned around the key multiple times. At that point, the mechanism put itself into motion. Forks were ticked back and forth, little pins clung onto anchor wheels, sprockets started to turn around their axis and to transfer their movement to rotating coils. The jumble of movements baffled me, but I was extremely excited to see them. I turned the clock around and looked at the hands. To my surprise, they had stopped completely. I waited a few minutes, watching intensely, but while the delicate interior seemed to work just fine, there was no movement of the hands at all. I sat back in my chair and wondered. Clearly I had overlooked something, but what?
At that moment, the door of the library opened.
“You’ve repaired it.”
Isa stood in the doorpost. My breath faltered and for a second I thought I was dreaming. It was not the Isa I knew from my lectures. Her upper body was naked, her hair pulled back. She wore black holdup stockings and black lace panties. On her high heels she was considerably taller than on her usual sneakers. There was a naughty smile on the angelic face I had glanced at so many times.
“Isa? What is this? I…”
She closed the door and sat on the chaise longue. She crossed her legs and put her hands on her knees.
“Yes, Isa,” she said. “The Isa you yearned for so much. The Isa of your fantasies. Do I please you?”
“Yes… I mean… yes, absolutely… but… the clock…” I stuttered incoherently.
“The clock is part of me. It is my soul. It is very old, nearly as old as I am. You repaired it and by doing so you have also healed me. At some point it will stop for good, but not yet. Thanks to you.”
I felt warm and dizzy.
“I don’t understand, I…”
“No, you don’t. And that does not surprise me,” Isa said while gently touching her neck with her fingers. “After all, you weren’t paying attention to the Lorentz transformations, dear Bart. You mastered the algebra and the geometry, but you don’t understand what they truly mean. Really, you haven’t got a clue. Time is malleable. Time can be molded and twisted, years can be compressed into days, minutes can be inflated to ages. But in the end, time rules over you. You can repair a clock, but you can’t enslave time. You could have understood it, Bart. But instead you stared at me, and made me feel things I hadn’t experienced for a long time. Me, Isa, desperately trying to always go unnoticed.”
Isa got up and walked towards me, swaying her hips. She knelt at my feet, and embracing my knees with her arms she put her cheek on my lap, her eyes fixed at the clock.
“There is not much time left, Bart,” she said in a soft voice. “I want you to do the things to me you fantasized about. I was there, I’ve seen it, I felt it. I want it. Don’t be ashamed, embrace who you are. I will be everything you desire.”
It was as if deep inside my mind a mechanism came to life and directed my body. My heart stopped beating in my throat, my breathing calmed. An invisible hand made me get up, and while Isa remained on her knees in motionless anticipation, I took a strip of velcro tape and a couple of tie wraps from my backpack, which I normally used to strap wires. I kneeled behind her and caressed the skin of her back. Isa sighed and bent her head slightly sideways, as if she knew what was going to happen. In silence, I put the velcro tape around her neck and pushed the ends together. The simple material was the most precious piece of jewelry I could imagine on her skin. Onyx on ivory. Ever so slightly she touched the tape with her fingertips.
“Yes, this is how it was. This is how you imagined me.”
She spoke softly, her lips moist, her head slightly tilted backwards and her eyes closed. Isa straightened her upper body and put her arms behind her back, crossing her wrists. It was an unspoken command. I took the tie wraps and bound her slender wrists behind her back. Then, I pushed myself against her body, cupped her soft breasts and felt how her nipples hardened between my thumbs and index fingers. I brought my face next to hers and listened to her accelerated breath. The fingers of her tied hand kneaded my crotch. I was hard.
“Don’t resist it, Bart,” Isa whispered. “You want me. You dreamed of having me like this. What is stopping you? I am here now. Do as you please. Take what is yours, take your time. Take me!”
For the first time in my life I crossed the barren no-man’s-land between my head and my heart. There was no more hesitation, no shame. With one hand I grabbed Isa’s hair and forced her to bend over to the floor. With a short tug, I pulled her panties down to her knees. She spread her legs as far as the stretched fabric around the middle of her legs permitted her. I stood up and quickly undressed. Isa didn’t move, yet she challenged me. She didn’t speak, yet she instructed me. She submitted, but at the same time controlled all my actions. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.
Naked, I took my place in the chair again, in front of Isa. I gently placed my hands on her face and guided her head to my lap. She opened her eyes and whilst she took me in her mouth she looked at me. I tightened my grip on her head and forced her, deeper, faster, while we kept on watching each other’s eyes. The warmth of her mouth and her scent was intoxicating. Then she let me go. As she caressed her cheek against my hard, moist dick she closed her eyes again.
“I want you inside me, Bart,” she whispered. “I want you to fuck me. Fuck me the way you want. Fuck me as if time doesn’t exist.”
I got up and again kneeled behind her. With a short and fierce movement of my hands I tore the fabric of her panties. With force, I slapped her bottom. In response to my harsh command she spread her freed legs wide. Almost instantly, the pale white skin of her butt cheek turned a pinkish red. I saw how open she was, silently extending a warm and moist invitation I could not refuse. As I filled her and her saliva on my shaft mixed with the fluid of her lust she held her breath. Isa turned her head and looked at me, her eyes wide open. In that gaze, Isa from the lectures and Isa from my fantasies merged. They did not speak, yet I heard them both.
What are you doing to me? Isa, the angel, begged.
Yes, I want you to do that to me! commanded Isa, the goddess.
I grabbed her tied arms at the elbows and fucked her. Hard, deep, driven by a desire that was beyond my control. She kept her eyes on me, one only a fraction smaller than the other, her opened mouth narrowing her jaw line. When I came in her, a deep cry escaped her soft lips. It was a cry that tore the ages apart.
We lay silently on the floor, Isa’s head on my chest. I stared at the clock on the table and saw how the hands slowly moved. They went counter-clockwise.
After that day, I never saw Isa nor Belle again.
“Gone with the wind,” a construction guy who was working at the villa told me a couple of days later. I asked my fellow students about Isa’s whereabouts, but nobody had a clue. Stranger still: nobody knew her.
She slowly faded away. Years later, my memory of Isa was nothing more than the shadow of a faint dream, a shadow that grew shorter as the sun in my life gradually rose higher. I stopped repairing watches. Instead, I focused my attention on the mechanism of my own soul clock, and learned to trust my intuition and my experience whenever life seemed inscrutably complex.
“It’s about fucking time,” a friend said when I finally got my PhD. I patted him on the shoulder and laughed. He was absolutely right.
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