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Eye on the Clock

by Sarah Ann Watts

‘So here we are again. The bitter end.’

‘Not every ending is bitter.’

‘But you are, aren’t you?’

Atlas sighed, ‘Yes, I suppose I’d have to say I am. Not so much bitter as disappointed. I hoped it wouldn’t come to this. That it might last a little longer. Seems like you hardly get settled in these days before they’re moving you on to the next job. It’s not how it used to be.’

She laughed, ‘Anyone would think you carried the weight of the world on your shoulders.’

‘Is that meant to make me feel better?’

‘I was only trying to cheer you up.’

‘Please don’t. I wish you’d stop following me around.’

‘So do I.’ She stretched and yawned, ‘I knew you’d still be here.’

‘I can’t just walk away. It’s in the rules. You can’t evade fate.’

‘Says who? You used to be good at evading fate.’

He sighed and shifted the weight on his shoulders, ‘Not any more. She catches up with everyone in the end, she and that bastard son of hers.’

She stuck out her tongue at him. ‘Destiny’s not all bad.’

‘You were always the optimist.’

‘Someone has to be. Anyway, he’s all right if you like that kind of thing. Too predictable for this girl. I like a little more excitement, myself.’

‘You would. We all know about you. Flirting, getting them all lit up with dreams and then failing to deliver the goods.’

She pouted, ‘That’s so unfair! Luck’s the real bitch, not me. Everyone gets us confused — just lazy thinking because they can’t be bothered to tell the difference. I’m not fickle like she is. I really care — you know that? Not my fault when they let me go.’

‘When you let them fall back deeper into the clutches of despair, you mean?’

She shook her head. ‘It doesn’t have to be like that. Why are you trying to hurt me? None of this is my fault!’

‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘I know there’s more than one kind of prison. Freedom’s an illusion. One you can buy if you know where to shop.’

‘I always know where to shop,’ she said happily.

He shifted restlessly, ‘So why are you here? Come to kiss the old man good night?’

‘Then you’ll go to sleep for a hundred years?’

‘I only wish I could. Can’t remember the last time I got a good century’s sleep. Hera doesn’t like it — the Chosen One — whatever she’s calling herself these days. Now the old one, Zeus, I knew where I was with him. You did right by him, he’d do right by you.’

‘Hush, she might be listening. She’s far worse than he ever was. They don’t make them like him any more. Thank goddess.’

‘Are you keeping an eye on the clock?’

‘Oh yes,’ she said. ‘We’re nearly there. So — what do you think the new place will be like?’

‘I don’t know. Shall I tell you something else? I don’t care that much, either.’

She glanced again at the dial. ‘It’s about time.’

‘You’re not wrong. I’m tired of this.’

‘You think it’ll all work out better next time?’

‘It has to! Otherwise, what would be the point?’

‘I’ve often wondered,’ she said. ‘So — are you ready now?’

‘Ready as I’ll ever be. You go first.’

‘We’ve had this argument before. After you!’

‘Do you never feel like we could do this a different way?’

She shrugged, ‘Well, we could; I don’t suppose we ever will.’

He let go and the heavy sphere rolled away into shadow. ‘You’re always the last one out the door.’

She watched it float away into nothing. ‘Cheer up! It’s not the end of the world.’

‘I suppose you think that’s funny, young Hope?’

Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Ann Watts

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