The watch never kept good time.
He was always tapping its face, hoping the vibration would reinvigorate the hands and catch them up. The watch ticked forcefully and he wondered how the sound of it operating could be disconnected from the actual operating.
And forget the second hand – it never worked. Although he wound up the watch daily, the minute hand would eventually lag so far behind that by nightfall, the hour hand was still pushing through the afternoon.
He was always late. He blamed it on the watch. People got irritated with him for constantly running behind.
“Get a new watch,” they told him. “Then maybe you could keep up.”
But he liked this watch – it felt like an old friend on his wrist.
“Get it fixed,” they said.
He tried, but the watchmaker said this particular model was too outdated to be poking around with.
So the watch continued to lose time and he continued to be late. Late with everything. He was the last to laugh at the joke, the last to know when to leave, the last to sing the final line of Christmas carols.
“These are regular songs, they’re not rounds,” people said. “Get with it.”
And he was the closest but the last to see the baby falling into the swimming pool at the office picnic.
“Why are you so slow?” everyone demanded.
That’s when the ticking in his head began. It was dull and hardly noticeable at first.
What is that, he wondered.
One day, he happened to glance at his watch after dinner and realized it had stopped. He tapped the face and shook his wrist. The minute hand would not budge. He pulled out the dial and set the time a few hours ahead and wound it up. The hands sat still. The watch was silent.
He wasn’t sure what to do. The ticking in his head grew louder as he sat and tried to figure this out. He returned to the same conclusion: the watch was dead and he would be even slower. Finally, with trepidation, he removed the watch from his wrist and placed it in a box and pushed it under the bed.
The next day, three hours late, he dragged himself out the door and headed to work. His head felt thick and the ticking pounded in his ears.
As he walked, he came upon an object lying on the ground, glinting in the sun. He picked it up and to his delight, saw that it was a watch: a shiny, gold Rolex with all its hands moving in sync. The man fastened the watch onto his wrist. The ticking in his head stopped and suddenly, his mind’s eye could see very clearly into next week.
Wait until I show everyone, he thought, triumphant. He walked on with his newfound watch and marveled at how quick he felt. He was so with it, he was in it.