Imogene was born to the sound of clocks ticking. It was the backdrop of her life. Her father, as the clockmaker of Halfpenny Gate, was one of the wealthier inhabitants; they had never had to wear their clothes til the patches fell off, like others did. Imogene loved to spend time in the shop with her father and watch him work. She never wanted to help though. Only observe.
There were clocks that her father had made, and many that he had found in his travels. Some had come to him, from Portaferry or Maydown, one or two surprisingly from Douglas Bridge, and a handful that came from lands even her father did not remember the names to. Imogene had their location in the shop memorized. There were the two tall grandfather clocks on the left, booming like far off cannons (one made by her father, one from Maydown); above them on shelves sat a row of dark, half-moon shaped clocks that purred like Ginger the cat and had different images carved on them. On the wall facing the door were shelves and shelves; most of those did not even catch Imogene’s fancy any more than the cobbles in the street that had always been there, in her memory. On the right wall right in the middle was a small, square clock with a round face whose chimes sounded like the splashing of a stream over pebbles. None of these clocks had ever been silent. They were constant as the river.
Imogene was not stubborn, nor was she strong willed; but her father soon learned that to strictly forbid her of something was to assure that she would in fact do it. Once as a very young child, after being told to stay away from the river, her father had found her at a young cowherd’s house in Maydown after a day and a half of searching. By some chance, Imogene had crossed the river on a series of stepping stones just close enough for her little legs to stretch over. Her father brought her home and said nothing.
One morning, Imogene was feeling restless again. She had not been out of Halfpenny for some time and the Grove was tugging at her thoughts. No one had ever even said not to go there, so without a twinge of conscience, she set out for the large group of trees that shielded most of Douglas Bridge and Halfpenny Gate from each other. Some said both towns had planted trees in order to ignore the other. After an hour of rambling, Imogene found the Grove easily. The shade was welcome enough. But something was odd. Not a bird sang. Not a leaf stirred. For someone who had grown up in a clockmaker’s shop, silence was not something she could ignore.
Imogene wandered for some time. The sunlight showered down on the floor, strangely devoid of bracken and fallen leaves. What fun! she thought. Silence wasn’t so horrible after all. But wait-there was a sound. It was faint-the sound of a stream splashing over pebbles. Imogene peered through the trees until she saw it-the stream. Thirst suddenly parched her mouth and she hurried forward to quench it. The water was clear, shockingly cold, and tasted faintly of mint. Imogene shook her hands to dry them.
Later, as she walked back towards home, she passed a stranger on the road.His skin was bronzed and leather-like. He wore long robes, unlike anything worn in any part of Enndover that Imogene had seen. He smiled in a friendly way as she passed; Imogene hurried on and did not stop until she reached the shop. She slammed the door as if something followed her. There was a new space in the air. Imogene grasped about with her mind, trying to find it. That’s when she noticed. The little square clock was silent.
Tales of Enndover #3