The Hands of Time

by Klarke K. Krusel

She saw the flash of searing light instants before the roar of the explosion reached her vantage point one-half mile on-shore. She lowered her binoculars, confident the deed had been successfully carried out. Her watch read 12:17. Turning, she flung her cigarette out the car window into the cool spring night The Saab roared to life, spinning gravel as she sped away.

A mile down the road she fumbled blindly in the passenger seat for her purse. Her fingers shook slightly as she felt for the pill bottle. Finally, she seized the vial and bit the cap off violently. She put the bottle to her lips, feeling four of the sedatives spill into her mouth. Recapping the bottle, she jammed it back into her purse. The mineral water washed down the bitter tablets, and she wiped her mouth absent-mindedly She stared straight ahead and contemplated her situation as the road unfolded before her.

So far the plan was running perfectly. By the time the authorities recognized the flotsam as George's boat, she would be sound asleep at home, courtesy of the sleeping pills. She had already rehearsed the histrionics she would stage when the apologetic officer appeared at her door. It would only be natural that the concerned officials would then contact her private physician to sedate and console the grief-stricken new widow Dr. Eric Strauss would arrive, ushering the authorities out, offering his assurances that he would personally oversee her condition Then, after everyone had gone, she and Eric could make love passionately and dream of how to spend all of George's millions.

She sighed nervously. A cigarette That would calm her She fumbled once again in her purse and found the pack. The lighter eluded her grasp, and she impatiently punched the car lighter. As she did so, one of George's ever-present Post-it notes fluttered to the passenger-side floor.

"Lord only knows what that note says," she thought bitterly George's pervasive memos were only one of an endless stream of annoyances she had tolerated Others may have found the notes cute and endearing. but she found the practice intrusive and ridiculous "Sort of like George." she mused ruefully.

Twenty-five years her senior, George had understood that she had made no pretenses at his proposal. She had never feigned love, and George had known that she had simply married for money. While he had thought that she could grow to love him, she had assumed that she could exist, albeit somewhat unhappily, buying and spending to pass the days. However, his doting affections and increasingly jealous nature regarding her indiscretions had shattered that illusion. Now twenty-eight, she had married George only 2 years previous and had reached her limit. Sometimes she thought if she could only turn back the hands of time and accept someone else's proposal... Still, she worried that George was reaching his limits as well, and she feared that he would divorce her leaving her penniless.

So when she had gone to the new doctor in this sleepy little harbor town for her yearly physical she had never anticipated finding a solution to all of her problems. When the check-up had finished 3 hours later in Eric's tender embrace, the plan had simply come to her "A financial epiphany," Eric would later call it As the affair had grown more passionate, she had found herself falling in love the way she had always imagined it to be, and she had shared her plan with him.

He had agreed, reluctantly at first. Through less-than-reputable sources they had managed to hire a professional with experience in explosives. To the authorities and insurance company it would appear that a mechanical problem had created a massive explosion claiming the lives of all aboard ship. After an acceptable period of grieving. which at her hope was about 4 months, she would move away to "escape the memories" Eric would follow suit shortly after, and they could enjoy a comfortable future in warmer dimes.

The road streamed past her. ahead of her. behind her She knew the route well and could have driven it in her sleep. Her mind wandered, and she wondered speculatively if the pills were beginning to work.

She could envision the road before her Two more meandering curves. then a straightway for almost 2 miles. Sharp turn to the right, the bridge, curve to the left, then right into the driveway. Up the driveway. Into the garage Lights burning softly, safely. Fumble with the keys. Mudroom. Kitchen. Hall. Foyer. Up the staircase. Master suite to the right. Through the double doors. Bathroom to the left. Quick shower. Hot. Steamy. Soothing. Dry herself in fluffy oversized towels. Then, bed. Sinking into the soft mattress, comforter clutched protectively around her Warm. Safe. Comfortable. Sleep would come soon. And then, dreams. Nothing. But. Dreams.

And in her dream the car hit the shoulder and pulled sharply to the right. She jerked in fright and cranked the wheel to the left, regaining control of the vehicle. Shaking her head to clear it, she glanced at the clock on the dashboard. The green letters glowed softly in the dark. 1:34. "Impossible," she thought. She had left the scene of the accident only about fifteen minutes previous, and judging by the scenery that was dimly illuminated by the passing headlights she still had 2 miles to go. Unless...

Of course. Realization dawned on her. While she had imagined completing the ride home and entering the house she had actually done it. Now she was fast asleep, dreaming. She marveled at the clarity of this particular dream as she navigated the last stretch before the bridge. Her senses had never been this acute while asleep, and she wondered what the dream could mean.

Just as she neared the bridge a deer bolted onto the roadway. She jerked reflexively, pulling the wheel to the right and slamming on the brakes to avoid the animal. The buck leaped to the left as the rear of her vehicle narrowly missed its hindquarters, but her car continued forward. now in a skid. She watched helplessly as the guard rail neared, closer, closer, closer. The impact jolted her viciously. and she slammed forward into the steering wheel Suddenly, her stomach dropped sickeningly, and through the haze of pain she realized the car was now airborne. The headlights swept downward, gleaming harshly on the black water rapidly rising toward her. She gasped just as the vehicle hit the water, slamming her again into the steering wheel intense pain shot through her chest, and she was only vaguely aware of a bobbing sensation. Then, slowly but steadily, sinking.

She groaned softly. Glancing at the clock, she again assured herself that there was no way possible that it could be this late. She pinched her cheek sharply, hoping the pain would bring her up from the depths of this all-too-real nightmare.

It was then that she noticed the Post-it still laying on the floor Darkness surrounded her, so she flipped on the dome lights Her eyes widened as she read the memo in horror.

Remember, daylight savings time starts tonight. So you wouldn't forget to "spring ahead" I already reset the clock for you.


As the icy water began to pool around her ankles she pounded frantically against the door held shut by the pressure of the river. And began to scream.