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Monday, Apr. 18, 2005 - 2:05 a.m.

The young woman enters the watch shop, and places a lady's wristwatch on the glass counter. The proprietor, an old man, holds it up by its black leather strap and looks at the slim rectangular watch-face. The second hand ticks away like raindrops hitting a puddle of water on a sidewalk. From inspection, the old man can find nothing wrong with the watch and without having to dismantle it, his deft hands already know that the second hand keeps perfect timing. The woman says, he told me he fell in love with me at 11:57 pm, but now he is gone.

The old man nods and disappears into a backroom with the watch. The woman looks around the shop, and realizes that she is surrounded by hundreds of time pieces. There are watches under the glass counter, a grandfather clock in the corner, and circular wall clocks with impenetrable faces that reveal only the time. She can almost feel that time is a visceral weight pressing on the skin of her eyes.

The old man re-appears and hands the watch back to her. He has stopped the watch at 11:57 pm by removing a tiny clock-spring, which he places in her palm. There is no charge, he says, because all he can do is to stop the watch, and not still the unforgiving advance of time.

She comes back two months later, at exactly the same time of day. She slips the wristwatch off her wrist and gives it to him. But now, she wants him to make the minute hand skip from 11:56 to 11:58 pm. The old man shakes his head at her and helps put the watch back onto her wrist. He says, this is something beyond my skill. I can make it go faster or slower, but time is something that cannot vanish or disappear. 11:57 pm is something you will wear for the rest of your life, and you will have to acknowledge each one of its sixty indestructible seconds.


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