Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. XIV: More Than A Melody

Ugh. Just dreary. Absolutely miserable. Like… the worst. Well, maybe for you and me.

Little Miss Hobbs was lying down on the couch, snuggled with a blanket and fluffy pillow, a steaming mug of ginger lemon tea on the small coffee table next to her, and these, her only respite from the terrible plague that was pestering her. Outside was the typical, beautiful sky she adored and admired on a daily basis, because beautiful people admire beautiful things, even the things that show up day in and day out. But it was pure drear inside.

She hummed her crackled hum in defiance of her sore throat until it hurt too much and she was dissatisfied with her lack of discernable melody. It was a melancholic tune but it made her feel better to contrast the way she felt with a song that just might lighten her heart.

Sing to the rose that lies on the tomb

If you were the one, why didn’t you bloom

The things that we love are cut down to soon

And I’ll never forget you

Shadows and gray skies will ever loom

Above apple blossoms: gossamer on boon

And so I sing this transient tune

And I’ll never forget you

No longer able to withstand the claws of her sore throat, she remained silent, the song still playing over again in her mind. Somehow the synchrony between her physical state and the song cheered up her heart so her emotions reflected more accurately the lightly blowing breeze outside. The tree on the other side of the window seemingly swayed to the tempo of the tune, dropping leaves here and there for dramatic effect, and inviting her to come dance. It made her smile brightly, but only from her eyes.

Most children enjoy being tended to by their mothers when they are under the weather, but Little Miss Hobbs needed only the weather to tend to her, and mayhaps a bottle of bubbles to blow indoors without a mother to scold her about the scum it’d surely leave on the windows and floor. I’ve spoken quite at length about the strength of Little Miss Hobbs, but what else could one expect when the Designer bottled so much goodness into one of such small stature? I daresay if her heart were made much lighter or she much shorter, she’d float off like a sky lantern in a Chinese Harvest Moon Festival. Or, if she were much sweeter, she’d be a mooncake.

And so, after a few more sips of her tea (and, of course, another scoop or two of honey), she tried humming once again. She thought she might possibly be able to hum the scratchiness away like screaming in the ear of an impish sibling. She hummed all the louder, but it only seemed to exacerbate the problem. She wished only that it were gloomy outside and cheery inside, because at least if it was cheery inside, she’d have her voice to keep her company, and her beloved tapping rain beckoning her to come and dance. Certainly she would then join the dance.

The only thing worse than not being able to sing well is not being able to sing at all, she concluded, so she sipped her tea in silence and smiled at the dancing leaves with her bright eyes.

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. XIII: Revisiting the Watchmaker

*A Note: To fully understand this post, you must first read Little Miss Hobbs, Pts. VI-XI: Applause for the Watchmaker*

The moon splashed the curtains with a cheerful shade of gray as the twilit corridors of her humble home filled with the sound of thunderous rain. Little Miss Hobbs had taken the trouble of rearranging everything just before bed so that she might be lulled to sleep by the palliative ticking and splashing. But just a quarter past three, her nightmares worsened until her quivering hands and heaving chest followed her out of the mindscape to join her in her bed. In a cold sweat, she threw the covers off, ready to face whatever else may have come back to the real world with her.

Luckily, all was quiet. But she knew it was more than that. It was no longer just a softness in the air. All was weighed down by the muted, sleepless world. She gracefully allowed one foot to fall onto the floor followed by the other, her night gown attempting to cling to the sheets and pull her back into their caress as she walked down the hall to the glass table on which the pocket watch lay. There, it was still and lifeless, and her heart sank. She tried winding the spring and replacing the battery, to no avail. In a somber shuffle, she went back to bed, and rued the remainder of the night.

In the morning, dark circles hung low from her eyes. Despite the hours of sleep, the final hours of her night were spent in further cold sweats and screaming. The night terrors continued where they left off each time she clasped her eyes shut.

As early as she was able, but not so early as to be inconsiderate, she ran to Greg’s house in hopes of fixing the pocket watch, still admiring the knick-knacks and antiques that were strategically placed all about. Bitterly holding her upper lip stuff, her voice shaking, she explained the night and begged his help.

“I just don’t know why it stopped, nor why it refuses to start again. It was working so well. Please help,” Little Miss Hobbs implored. “What was it you were dreaming when it stopped ticking?” Greg asked. Puzzled by the relevance of his question, she timidly responded, “I was about to face a fear, and I guess I just didn’t think I could do it.” “And you don’t want to explain this fear?” She shook her head, eyes falling downcast.

“Well, regardless, I think I know the issue, and I have just the solution. I think you’ll be very pleased.” So sure of himself, Greg straightened his posture and smiled with his eyes but not his mouth. Little Miss Hobbs noticed the wrinkles in the corners of his eyes folding ever deeper with a practiced synchrony, his irises now seemingly a lighter, more blissful shade of brown-tinted green.

“You must believe, my dear, and with your whole heart, at that.”

“Believe what?”

“Just believe.”

She wanted to ask more but didn’t want to offend him or question his wisdom, so she snatched up the watch, replaced it in the box and stuffed it into her purse. “Thank you, Greg, it’s always a pleasure. I will believe.”

“Of that, Little Miss, I have no doubt,” and he winked as she left the shop.

That night, Little Miss Hobbs placed the watch precisely where she marked its assigned position on the table, closed her eyes tight, and repeated, “I believe you work… I believe you work… I believe you work.” She repeated this, stating her belief in the watch, the ticking, the individual gears and springs, and even the rain, but nothing happened.

So she went to bed and almost immediately resumed her dream, face to face with her fears. She was so unsure. So scared. And in the back of her mind (as luckily our dream selves share only the backs of our minds with our awake selves) she remembered Greg’s words. So she stood strong and tall, as she always did yet rarely knew it, and said, “I believe,” and jolted upright, once again, in her bed. Only her chest wasn’t filled with dread this time. And in bewilderment, she stared down the hallway and heard the splash of rain.

And she believed…

Tentative

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. XII: Undressed and Shameless

I stood there as I had twice before, loose shirt draped from my shoulders, belt synched for my lack of waist. Shoes tied just tight enough to make me self conscious, but socks tall and proud, ridiculous patterns ensuring those who catch a glimpse of them that I am, in fact, unprofessional. But with her, I needn’t even wear socks. I needn’t wear any indicator, for that matter. I could be bundled up in a fur coat, snow pants, and a ski mask, and I’d still be undressed in front of her.

We didn’t say much, at first. We simply read one another. Sure, the niceties were observed, and the typical catch-up banter was cast back and forth, but for all of our words, we said nothing. When we truly said nothing, we learned the most about one another. We once drove down a very dark freeway listening and dancing to music, and we learned more about one another than we could have on a coffee date.

Now, I don’t know where we stand…

A word of caution to every man who ever thought boldness was a prized trait: be careful with how bold you are, and who you are bold with. It is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for those who maintain non-verbal conversations. I do not mean those who conduct non-verbal conversations, I intend to say those who take those conversations and write them on your back.

I admitted affections for my Little Miss Hobbs, and I fear she does not and will not look at me the same again. I admitted them verbally, but she did not hold that against me. But then she read me, and wrote our quasi-conversations on my back.

Now here I am, undressed and shameless. I regret nothing, but she still reads “us” as I walk away.

Memorize

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. XI: Applause for the Watchmaker

Considering his words, she slowly walked back over to him and he returned the box to her, smirking with moist eyes.

“You are right. I am so sorry.” she said remorsefully. She opened the box, lifted the treasure, and placed it back on the table in a different spot than the shopkeeper had earlier. A new storm began, but it still sounded like the whisper of God that she sought. It took nearly two minutes to crescendo to the full-bodied rainstorm it was capable of, and as it grew, she returned to his side, and together they reveled in it.

“I’m Greg, by the way,” the shopkeeper said, “I’m so glad you came in today. And you are, Little Miss?”

“Hobbs,” she grinned, “And I’m happy I came in, too. I can’t thank you enough.”

He chuckled, “Little Miss Hobbs… How fitting. I’ll tell you what… If you promise me you won’t give up until you get exactly what you’re looking for, I’ll let you have the pocketwatch for free, and all the lessons that come with it,” he winked. “How generous,” she blushed, “it’s a deal. And I promise I’ll stop in again, too.”

“It’s a deal,” he chuckled once more, a bit heartier than the first.

“If you listen closely,” Little Miss Hobbs added just before grabbing the treasure one final time with no intent to return or forsake it, “It almost sounds like an applause, appreciative of your fulfilling dreams.”

“I suppose it does, yes,” Greg gratefully returned, “And an applause for never giving up, since there is the promise it will always get better, and there’s always something to be learned.”

Little Miss Hobbs snapped the hinged box shut as she blushed once more, silently shook Greg’s hand, and walked home with all the hope and Love she started the day searching for now filling her heart.

It took her months to place the watch just so, and after setting plates on top of lamps and draping clothes over the corner of her desk and setting spools of thread at the feet of mirrors and portraits which now stood leaned against the walls and chairs, her little space was filled with the pitter-patter of rain, though the Love and whispers of God had been there the whole time.

She didn’t see Greg for weeks after, mostly because she came to realize that she had walked out of the shopping district and into an ordinary neighborhood. Greg had, in fact, welcomed her into his house, explaining that it was clear she was in need, and he was willing to play along however she needed him to in order to provide for her. After the many “oh man’s” and “I’m sorry’s,” Little Miss Hobbs stopped being sorry, and simply learned.

Occasionally, when she asks, he will still sell her his keepsakes, no matter how precious.

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. X: Applause for the Watchmaker

Her eyes widened as she approached the little glass table at the near-center of the room, pocketwatch likewise nearly-but-not-quite centered, and in amazement, noticed how even her movement in the room changed the dynamic of the sound, adding a rush of wind or hush of respite as she passed by the many keepsakes that had been so carefully positioned. ” It is perfect!” she exclaimed, “Oh man, oh man… It’s so much more than I ever imagined was possible,” and she marveled for several minutes as they exchanged glances, giggles, and giddy smiles.

Then, as she surveyed the room, her face went downcast and brow furrowed once again. “Sir, I still don’t know if this will work. I don’t have all the things you have… I don’t even have a round, glass table! And even if I did have all these things, how could I ever hope to place them just so, as you have?” She snatched the watch quickly from the table and the rain sounded as if it was being blown eastward, gradually growing more distant. She replaced the pocketwatch in its box, and in the eerie silence, walked back over to him, handing him the precious treasure with a sorrowful shudder, and made a motion to take her leave.

“Little Miss!” he called, voice hoarse as if he had been weeping loudly for hours. He cleared his throat, “I know you fell asleep, but in all your notes of my bustling about, did you forget or simply overlook that it is now a bit past eight? For an hour and a half, I maneuvered and adjusted all these precious keepsakes, some I will never, ever part with. I even retrieved some items from my room upstairs to place them down here, and vice versa. I did so pedantically! For over an hour! And for you, it may take longer! And mayhaps it will begin to look odd and cluttered to an unpracticed eye (she now realized an iron skillet standing on end next to a framed picture of a loved one, with a giant pinecone perfectly balanced on top, bridging over the two), but take note at how it is all just so, and it was no small amount of time or resources that achieved the downpour we both heard. Playing with the lighting was my theatrical mind being a bit over-zealous, but for a moment, you began to retreat into the fear of being wetted by the storm, and here you are again retreating into a fear of the impossible, which clearly is not so. I told you it may require rearranging the environment for this to work, and proceeded to show you as an example just what that may entail. Do not forget, I have a practiced hand at making such delicately intricate things. Please do not tell me it was all for naught, or that you have, once again, lost heart.”

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. IX: Applause for the Watchmaker

Eagerly, Little Miss Hobbs cupped the pocketwatch in her hands and raised it between her head and the shopkeeper’s so they could both indulge in its call. “Mmm” he reveled in how perfect it seemed, but just then she furrowed her brow. She noticed his contentment and felt that she was not hearing it as he was, as she took no joy from its miniscule tick. “I do not think it will work, I am so sorry.” He looked at her with raised eyebrows, “You may be right, but as I said, sometimes it is merely its environment that needs adjusting. Here. Sit in the chair over there, and watch.”

With clearly a very strong aptitude for such things, he placed it just off-center on a glass table that he moved to a spot just off-center from the middle of the room. He continued moving the various shelves and objects in the room, making minor adjustments here and there, tilting free-standing, personal mirrors to be more angled towards the ceiling or floor, setting spy glasses inches from where they began, yet very intentionally adjusting the direction their handle pointed in and what they sat on top of. Objects that appeared to be little more than miniaturized bicycle gears he hung from hooks in the wall, compulsively rearranging them as if to find a secret passage like in the Indiana Jones movies. Little Miss Hobbs began making mental and literal notes of every little thing he did. It was then that she noticed how many random objects he had in his shop – some silly, and some clearly very important, even borderline regal in their intricacy and placement on the shelves, everything so precisely angled and displayed. She noted a large chunk of ruby with a hammer and chisel nearby, along with several increasingly smaller chisels no doubt used for very delicate, detailed work. The glass-case countertop where he revealed the watch to her looked like something she would use for her own collection display in her house, if ever she decided objects were worth collecting and displaying in such a manner.

After an hour and a half, nothing was in its original spot, even small objects on the shelves moved up and down and across the room from their original home. Little Miss Hobbs had fallen asleep and was wincing and fidgeting in her restless nightmare when the shopkeeper gently shook her shoulder to rouse her. As she became aware of the world around her and formulated ideas of where she was (as dreaming and nightmaring can be disorienting), she panicked and reached for her purse in alarming haste. “What is it you’re looking for, my dear?” She looked around frantically, noticing how dim the light had turned since she had nodded off, and how all texture seemed to be lost in the room, despite all of the objects now strewn about. “I don’t think I packed a flashlight, or my umbrella, and my walk home is so very far.” She glanced towards the window and noted that, between the jacket, blanket, and several colorful towels that hung in front of it, sunlight seemed to still splash the walls, though when she looked back to the center of the room, the light and gray-washed tinge blanketed everything, suggesting foul weather outside. Furthermore, the clattering of a million snapping fingers filled the room with the audible essence of a reasonable deluge.

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. VIII: Applause for the Watchmaker

The shopkeeper shuffled to the back of the store, climbed the wooden stairs which filled the narrow corridor on their own, and returned with a tiny, curious, wooden box. Little Miss Hobbs knew the importance of not discrediting the potential immensity of objects whose housings appeared minute, but after her bout in the antique store, she was reluctantly, cautiously pessimistic.

His bright eyes contrasted the surrounding dark skin as he looked at her with childish candor, and slid the box across the glass countertop to her. She returned the gaze with a mirrored enthusiasm, completely unaware that she now resembled a hopeful adventurer only just beginning their quest. Slowly, she lifted the hinged lid and revealed a plain, dingy, pewter pocketwatch whose chain had kinks, scratches, and other such mars, but whose shell remained smooth and unscathed. Genuinely enamored by antiquity, she marveled at it for a few moments, turning it over in her palm. It was heavy and cold, weighed down by the experiences it undoubtedly saw at one point in its lifetime.

“Oh man, this is gorgeous,” she said with a twinge of reservation, “but I’m not certain I can afford such a treasure. How did you come by this? Did someone sell it to you?” His eyes lit up all the more at her inquiry and the corner of his lip curled all the more with each subsequent word. “It was the first pocketwatch I ever made many years ago when my grandfather, a good and proper watchmaker, taught me the art of patience and endurance. You’ll notice it is altogether plain and worn, and if your ear is tuned well to it, you’ll further notice it is just a half-tick too fast when the spring is fully wound, and a half-tick too slow as it unwinds, rendering it fairly useless at keeping the time unless wound fully every thirty-three and a quarter hours (it took me years to find the precisely correct interval), and even then, it is only correct once every day and a half or so, which is a shame as even completely broken clocks tell the correct time twice per day. As for the price, shall we round it down to five dollars?”

“Oh man! Sir, I can’t even begin the thought of taking such a precious memory from you, especially at such low compensation!” He chuckled as he replied, “Little Miss, it is mine to give at whatever price I choose, and your need certainly exceeds mine. Compensation is much more than monetary, and the spark in your heart and eyes must never go as dim as they were when you first walked in here, my dear. I’d like to return that to you, if I may. That is ‘compensation’ enough for me.” “Oh man, okay, thank you so much. Oh man, I can’t even express…”

“No need. Just remember that if at first it doesn’t sound the way you need it to, just rearrange the furniture… Which reminds me – take a listen before we make this a done deal.”

 

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. VII: Applause for the Watchmaker

The disdain of disappointment left a bitter taste in her mouth, so she bypassed several shops that simply didn’t appear to have the capacity for the sort of magic she desired. It seemed increasingly more uncomfortable and warm outside, even though the sun showed signs of setting, and so her shuffling feet grew more muffled, as did her awareness of the goings-on around her.

She resolved to try her luck at one final shop, but as she entered, she noticed it was more abandoned than an open shop ought to be, so she called to the recesses, “Hello? Are you still open?” She could hear a slightly labored breathing as someone rustled in the obscured far reaches of the store.

Much like her living space, the halls weren’t long or deep, and the individual rooms weren’t like the open spaces of meadows (as she often likened warehouse-style stores), but they were adequate and the ceiling was tall enough for contentment (which doesn’t normally mean much for people of her stature, but she liked a little extra headroom for her deep thinking). “Yes, yes, please come in!” declared the short, tan man, though he still stood a fair bit taller than her. “What time do you close?” she questioned sheepishly. “Four o’clock,” he said curtly. She examined her wristwatch (which was all but silent, mind you), and it read six-thirty, and not a minute earlier. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to intrude,” she said as she began backing out of the creaky front door. “Nonsense, I serve people outside of regular hours all of the time!” he said enthusiastically, even with a somewhat prideful air, “How may I help you, Little Miss?”

She explained her complex conundrum that she wished to remedy with a single, solitary source of ticking and tapping. She began her tale with gusto, but as she recounted her train of thought, she realized how ridiculous it must have seemed, and by the end, was barely uttering more than a muttered mumble of her tale and proposed solution. After she concluded and took a shaky, shameful breath, he let a second more of silence, mayhaps to process or consider her words further, or mayhaps out of the tale’s ludicrosity, Little Miss Hobbs hypothesized.

“Brilliant, you are!” he finally exclaimed, making her jump a bit, and resurrecting the smile on her face, but certainly not a smirk of pride, as Little Miss Hobbs was rarely prideful. “Oh man, you think so?” she questioned, “Thank you so much for saying so.” “Indeed! You seek a solimentary thing to replicate a solimentary thing, even if the original solimentary thing to be mimicked manifests itself in a multitudinous way. I think I have just the thing…”

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. VI: Applause for the Watchmaker

The rain tapped the glass of the window, punctuating the silence in the halls. They weren’t particularly long, but the cavernous echo came to fill the void designed by the Loneliness. Little Miss Hobbs never minded much or paid Loneliness much attention, and when she did, it was never for long. But when the clouds are gray yet distant and the music playing in the background follows their lead, it expands the hallways and each room until leagues of silence lay active between Little Miss Hobbs’ couch and the kitchen table.

Yet there, in the rain, God tapped His deafening reminder that He is capable of filling every void with Love. Then again… as the rain ceased and thunder no longer rumbled low, Little Miss Hobbs remained only human, and that often means forgetful, of even the most obvious Truths.

So she searched and sought a clock whose ticking might be reminiscent of God’s overwhelming whispered reminders. It did not take long to find a passable apparatus, but somehow the brand-new, pristine clock on the shelf of the gadget and doo-dad shop seemed tainted and corrupt. She walked along the street lined with stores whose signs held such promise, determined to hear a ticking resembling the tapping of approximate timber and temperament that announced the Lord. She double- and triple- checked convenience stores, dollar stores, and general stores to no avail. In the Mad Hatter Antiques Store, there stood a squat yet proud alarm clock whose silver bells reflected even the twinkle in her eye, but as she raised it to her ear, it was just a tad too twangy and shrill. Wistfully, she replaced it in its dusty spot on the shelf. With a sigh, she turned to examine more of the room, listening as intently as she looked. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a humble grandfather clock, tucked in a corner behind a grand dining table. The table was chestnut in color, topped with polished silver utensils, ivory, wafer-like china sets, complete with tea cups and saucers, the rims of each plate, saucer, and cup seemingly dipped and accented with silver, or more likely, platinum. Between the table and place settings, a fine table runner made of silk, edged with elegant designs, highlighting the grandeur of it all.

The grandfather clock was the same deep wood tone as the table, yet without the finery or ostentatious detail that the table and its settings proudly held. Little Miss Hobbs snuck between the chairs, table, and shelves which stood on either side of the clock, and were positively lined, coated, and filled with interesting knick-knacks until she finally acquired a position in which her ear might discern the clock’s patient rhythm. Slowly, delicately, she leaned in, even hushing her breath as to not corrupt its tone.

Filled with ticks and tocks, clicks and knocks, it certainly resembled the cacophony of the rain on wet pavement, but the ticks were too snappy and the tocks too sloppy, the clicks like dry twigs falling on stones, and the knocks like bouncy balls on timpani drums.

Two dozen more clocks of every persuasion underwent her scrutiny – shinier bedside alarm clocks, other grander grandfather clocks, and some clocks she swore hung from the center of the ceiling like chandeliers. Not a single one of them reminded her of rain or the Love of the Lord, so head hung lower and shoulders slightly hunched, she scraped her heels down the sidewalk once again…