The Pocket Watch(5)

By: Ceci Giltenan



Maggie hesitated before saying, “Sometimes I wish I could have someone else’s life—just for a while. I wonder what it would feel like just to be away from the rubble of broken dreams.”

The old woman cocked her head. “Whose life would ye choose?”

Maggie sniffed. “Amanda’s.”

The old woman chuckled. “Ye don’t want her life, lass. She married an idiot.”

Maggie gave a little laugh and wiped the tears from her eyes.

The old woman looked at her pointedly. “What would ye say if I told ye I could give ye that.”

“What?” Maggie was confused.

“Someone else’s life.” She cocked her head and furrowed her brow. “If I could give ye someone else’s life for a while, what would ye do?”

Maggie supposed the woman was trying to make a point about everyone having troubles. Still someone else’s troubles might be a relief for a while. “It isn’t possible, but I guess I would try it if I could.”

“Och, but it is possible.”

Maggie smiled. “No it isn’t.”

“That’s a very closed-minded opinion for a lass whose father researches multiverse theory.”

“Do you truly believe you have the ability to temporarily give me a different life?”

“Well I don’t personally, but I have something that does.”

The nurse inside Maggie tugged at her, this poor dear lady is ill. But the theoretical physicist’s daughter asked, “How does it work?”

The woman pulled what looked like a small gold pocket watch on a chain from her purse. She opened the cover and handed it to Maggie. It was a plain, rather ordinary looking timepiece except there was only one long, slender hand, which pointed at twelve and didn’t appear to be moving. “What am I supposed to do with it?”

“When ye go to bed tonight, put it around yer neck or even in the pocket of yer pajamas. When ye wake ye will be…elsewhere.”

“Elsewhere?”

“Aye. It will pull ye into someone else’s body, someone else’s life.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Oh, I am. It is called soul exchange.”

“Soul exchange? So whoever’s body I get, her soul comes to my body?”

“Briefly, aye. But the person whose body ye assume will be about to die. Ye will do something immediately which will change that.”

“I’ll save her life?”

“Not precisely, but I’ll explain that in a minute. When ye wake in that person’s body, ye will find the watch still around yer neck or in a pocket. If ye open it, ye will notice that the hand will advance one second for each day ye’re there. Ye must come back before the hand reaches twelve again.”

“How very Cinderella-like. So…I would have sixty days in another life.”

“Aye, more or less.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means ye can come back at any time. Ye will only have to say one word. Ye don’t even have to have the watch with ye for it to work. The watch always manages to be where it’s needed.”

“What’s the word?”

“Ye decide and tell the watch before ye put it ‘round yer neck.”

Yes, this poor dear was delusional. “I tell the watch?”

If the old woman recognized her skepticism she ignored it. “Aye, and it has to be something that ye would have no reason to say accidentally. We’ll make the word…cellphone.”

“Why? That’s a word I use a lot.”

“Aye, ye use it now. But ye will be going back in time and ye have to go back far enough so ye can’t have an impact on yer own life.”

“Like telling one of my parents the results of every super bowl for the last twenty years.”

“Sweetling, do ye know the results of every super bowl for the last twenty years?”

“Um…no.”

The old woman chuckled, “Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about that then. But aye, that’s the concept. What would ye do if ye arrived, say, twenty-five years ago?”

Without missing a beat Maggie answered, “I’d find my mother.”

The old woman gave her a sad smile. “And how do ye suppose yer mum would react?”

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