*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.”
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…