A broken wristwatch
A hug that goes too far
They had 20 minutes to complete a story, and I promised them that on my planning period, I'd have a go at it as well. This is my story.
"Crap," thought Ezekiel, as the clasp on his watch opened yet again.
His arm was on the downswing of a pretty brisk walk in the New York morning pedestrian traffic, and his watch was slung not just off his wrist, but far into the crowd, bouncing off legs and being kicked around.
"Excuse me, excuse me," he muttered as he struggled up the flow of traffic like an elderly motorist convinced they're the only person driving the right way on a one-way street.
If it was any normal watch, he wouldn't have bothered, but this was his father's watch. Not that he'd been much of a father, the guy left his family when Ezekiel was three, but the watch was the only memory he had of the transient progenitor.
It was a Mont Blanc watch, well over 100 years old, and had been handed down inside the family for generations. If the original purchaser of the watch could see it now, lying perilously close to a New York gutter, he would have shaken his head and shamed the present owner for his carelessness.
Ezekiel found the watch just as someone else did. The woman picked it up and looked around, as though checking for the owner before pocketing her newfound treasure.
"Hey! Wait! That's mine!" Ezekiel yelled, but he couldn't be sure the woman heard him. Her head twitched almost imperceptibly at the sound, but she couldn't identify the source.
Desperate now, Ezekiel shoved the last remaining man in front of him away, and sprinted to the woman holding his heirloom. His shove caught the man by surprise, and he exhaled almost explosively into Ezekiel's face.
"Peppermints," thought Ezekiel.
Ezekiel reached the woman, and reached for the watch as well.
"That's mine," he said.
"How do I know that?" asked the woman.
"It has my surname engraved on it," Ezekiel replied.
"Oh yeah? And that is?" the stranger asked.
The woman flipped the watch over and confirmed this.
"Okay, but it's broken," she said.
Ezekiel looked at the broken crystal and swore. He didn't have the money to repair the watch, and being late to work after the interruption wasn't going to help his already tenuous grip on the job he hated.
Seeing the panic in the man's eyes, the woman said, "I can fix it. All I ask for is a hug in return."
Wary, Ezekiel replied, "A hug? Why a hug?"
"I don't know," she said, gesturing to the streets. "I like human contact, and I don't get very much of it out here."
Ezekiel, being pressed for time and without the funds to repair the watch, agreed.
"Hug first," said the woman.
The two embraced, and as they did, Ezekiel felt something strange happening. This closeness, the smell of her hair, the softness of her touch, it made him realize something in his life was missing. Her hands slid lower on his back, and that brought Ezekiel out of his trance, and he realized the hug went a little too far. As they broke contact, the woman handed the watch back.
"Here you go," she said.
Ezekiel looked down. The watch looked brand new.
"Thanks," he said awkwardly, and walked on to work.
It wasn't until lunch that Ezekiel looked at the watch again, really looked at it, then flipping it over looking for his name, and realized the woman had slipped him a fake. He'd lost his priceless family heirloom to a common street hustler, who was at that very moment getting a fine price for it at a local pawn shop.