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…

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. V

Footsteps crumbled gravel beneath two sets of heels, one clumsy and heavy, the other gentle and full of grace. You can guess which ones were hers. I am ashamed to say the other were mine. If not for blessed light pollution, it might have been pitch black on the side of that mountain… I guess that’s a bit of a misnomer. The edge of the foot of the mountain. It felt much higher up in that moment…

We traipsed along the path… I must not misspeak. I traipsed. She, however, knows the ways of angels. Walking abreast, we began our gradual climb along the thin, albeit straight path. Low hanging, broken clouds reflected the ambient light pollution so the way was discernible, but only just. It wasn’t long, however, that my shins found a cactus in their haste. Her patience made her the Wiser, calling out the assailant only a moment too late, though she’d have caught me if I hadn’t taken an extra half-step. I promise I meant good by it. I thought it gentlemanly to go first and clear the path, perhaps springing all the traps and ambushes of the nocturnal assassins. It seems the only assassin was that which I brought upon myself.

As we backpedaled, she discovered a perfectly comfortable and scenic resting place for us. I am ashamed to say that next, instead of turning around to join her, my pride and adrenaline beckoned me further into the night, half hoping to survive another attack. Her pride and independence coexisted harmoniously with her patience as she sat down alone on that bench in the dark. I eventually turned to join her. Two strikes against the gentleman in me.

I retuned to her side as she looked out over the expanse of the city, now fully aware of the source of Illumination. For her, all must have been crystalline. For me, on the other hand, I was caught between the glistening vivacity below, placid reflections from above, and the glowing directly next to me. You can see a person’s understanding in their eyes. I could see the whole City in hers, and all the detail therein. Mine were probably filled with the clouds and a song.

Up there, above the world I wished was ours, we discussed dreams and our place in the among the lights. She wished for nothing more than to see Beauty, and I wished nothing more than for her to see her reflection in my eyes. Mayhaps it is not for me to fill the place in her heart reserved for longing, but I wouldn’t stop her if she tried to fill that place in mine.

Two lonely hearts on a mountainside in the dark… Well, not entirely lonely. Then again, not entirely filled for this reason: we are only human.

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. IV: An Apology

Dear reader,

If you have taken the time to read through the various part of “Little Miss Hobbs,” then I wish to apologize. The story seems to go nowhere. In fact, it is no story at all. I say time and again how she is only human, and how I wish to not put her on a pedestal, and I fear in making those points so apparent and repeating them, I have put her on a pedestal. What I mention of her is important, and should be kept in mind, but I promise to try and show you more of who she is from here on out by telling the story I wished to convey in the first place.

Thank you for your patience and persistence.

Little Miss Hobbs, Pt. III

Now… On the matter of the matter with Little Miss Hobbs, I will tell little. That is not to say there is nothing the matter with her, for there are a great many things that have gone awry with her, especially if you ask her yourself. I do not with for you to think I hold her on some sort of pedestal, but you must know I do hold her in higher esteem than most.

I have often told her how well she plays the role of fairy tale princess, and I believe I mentioned this once before in part one. She sings, she dances, she cooks and she cleans, she thinks logically (though sometimes, I believe her logic may be rather too sound), but she has a heart deeper and wider than most young ladies her age.

No doubt, she would also have some sort of rebuttal for every bit of compliment I offer here, however. Therefore, I will say of the matter with the matter of Little Miss Hobbs is somewhat the matter with the matter with us all.

Everyone says something about you, and especially when speaking of good, just, righteous things of the world, someone ought to be right. That is to intend that everyone has at least a spot or two of goodness, justness, and righteousness. Well, think on it for a moment! When was the last time someone described you as beautiful or handsome, wise, intelligent, courteous, clean, strategic, observant, or the like… and how did you respond? I offer the likely scenario in which you shrugged, rolled your eyes, begged the complimenter cease and desist, or the like.

There truly are a great many reasons we might each find in ourselves for why we do not live up to such generous, kindly words, but more often than not, we are at least a smidgen or a pinch of what others say of us, especially admirers. We could not be admired unless we were first admirable. And why should the admiration be considered, even for a moment, any bit of untruth?

Because the matter of the matter with Little Miss Hobbs is the matter of the matter with us all: We are but human.