I cracked it open, using the precision that I assumed to be usually reserved for surgeons and stunt pilots. I pulled the device apart gear by gear, cog by cog until there was nothing left but the gutted, empty shell of the clock. When I was content with my metered destruction of the clock, I began to put it back together. All of the parts had seemed to go back in their place perfectly, and all modesty aside, I was impressed with my skill. When I closed it, I thought I was in the clear. I carefully lifted the antique alarm clock to receive quite a shock. Under the timepiece, I saw a slight glimmer in the rising sun of the morning hours.
I believe that it is very difficult to repair a clock, especially if you were the one who inadvertently did the damage.
The gear must have belonged in a hidden place that I did not see when I was putting the clock back together. Hearing the waking footsteps of my mother upstairs, I quickly wound the clock and replaced the clock on its shelf. At first everything seemed to be perfectly acceptable. Perhaps the piece that I had placed in the pocket of my pajamas was an extraneous gear that served no purpose for our uses for the clock?
When the hours ticked away in our home but not on the clock, I began to feel guilty. To an outside observer, the world would have appeared to be perpetually stuck in the minutes between 6:00 and 6:59 AM. I began to feel a twinge of welled up guilt in my stomach.
Being eaten alive is not an experience I would recommend, especially when you realize that you can easily alleviate the situation yourself. There was no solution I could arrive at other than the simplest answer, telling the truth.
I believe that honesty and full disclosure are important to strive for, that telling the truth can help prevent you from inadvertently harming yourself, even if the truth may be slightly to your detriment at the time.
One can assume what the next step I took was, and I wish I could tell you that she was so thrilled with my act of honesty that she could not bring herself to punish me. I wish I could tell you that she gave me a dollar for my act of selfless do-goodery. Hell, I would like to tell you that I then got the Rolling Stones to break up and Fergie to stop recording, but none of this happened.
I was free. Not in the literal sense, I would not be allowed out of my room for quite some time, but the weight on my chest and the air in my stomach was gone. I had endured this punishment to clear my conscience. Anyways, I could always just fake a sick stomach to get out of my room when I felt I would need it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.