by Marelle Hipolito ’21
Tick Tock. 11:42. Henley stared at the computer, impatiently waiting for an idea to come to her mind, waiting for an idea to turn into words and those into the story that she was supposed to turn in by midnight. Usually inspiration came to her like a flood, but tonight there was nothing.
Tick tock. Henley looked at the time on her computer screen. 11:43. She tapped her feet stressfully, recalling things from the past week that would help her begin to write. Nothing interesting had really happened to her that week, but then again, nothing interesting really happened to Henley at all. After her brother’s car crash, Henley shut herself out. As she withdrew from the rest of the world, no one checked up on her, and no one noticed. Henley didn’t mind, though. She figured that if her “friends” couldn’t ask a “How are you?” or nod their head “Hey,” they weren’t worth keeping around anyways.
So she joined the local newspaper. She was supposed to write a heartwarming story to set the mood for Thanksgiving. It’s only the beginning of November, Henley noted. She always felt contained to a specific mood by the holidays, and more so after Johnny died. There was no way she could come up with a good storyline. There was just nothing to write about.
Tick tock. 11:52. Henley saw the time and suddenly slammed her hand against the desk in frustration. She got up and started pacing back and forth. She had nine minutes to submit a heartfelt story, yet here she was walking through her room racking her brain for some sort of idea. Henley stopped, and leaned her forehead against the wall. I can do this. I can. I just need an idea to get me started. I just need something to start on. Henley breathed deeply and sighed.
Tick tock. 11:55. As she turned back around to her desk to sit back down at the sound of another minute passing, she suddenly stopped. Her chair was already occupied. Wearing the sneakers that their dad bought as a graduation present, with legs crossed in the same faded jeans that he wore every day, in the same green shirt that Henley wore to sleep for months after he died, was her brother. Henley looked for the St. Christopher chain around his neck, but she quickly realized that where she was looking, she only saw her computer screen. There wasn’t a neck to hang the chain around. Or a head to attach it to. Leaning back in her chair, headless, like how they found in him the car wreck, was Johnny.
After what seemed like eternity of standing there speechless, Henley found herself frozen as her dead, headless brother stood up and slowly made his way to her. Once he was standing just inches away from her, Johnny reached for Henley’s hand and dropped something inside her palm. Henley opened it. It was a small clock. Henley watched as the long arm of the clock moved forward a notch. Tick tock. 11:57. Henley looked up, and saw that she was the only one in the room. She held on to the clock tightly, and made her way to the chair that her brother just got up from. Henley clicked the computer back onto a new document, and started typing: