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Tick, Thump

By Kat Hawthorne


Reveil’s gift to Minuette on their wedding day was a cuckoo clock. It was the finest clock he’d ever made: dainty, beautiful, just like the woman it had been made for. The face was fair, the hands delicate, the cuckoo’s soft song a charming melody. Its key was made of artfully twisted metal, its ring the shape of a heart. During the ceremony, Minuette and Reveil wound the clock together, symbolically marking the beginning of their time as husband and wife. They couldn’t have been happier.


But before crossing the threshold of their matrimonial home, a terrible accident occurred. Some folks believe that rain on a wedding day is a sign of good fortune, but that was not the case for Minuette and Reveil. For them, rain meant a washed-out bridge noticed too late and deep-rutted roads too slick with mud for stopping. With a sharp crack and the squeal of splintering wood, the bridge beneath them fell to ruin. The footman was thrown from his lofty perch and drowned in the river’s hungry courses. The driver, like the toppling carriage, was dashed to pieces on the river’s rocky floor. Minuette’s white dress—so pure, so clean—was washed with gore, a spindle from the carriage’s fine wheel impaled through her chest, pointing to her wound like a shocked exclamation.

Reveil, the only passenger whose life seemed spared, crawled in madness to his beloved, who was now little more than a heap of twisted limbs and fragmented possibilities. “You cannot leave me yet, Minuette,” he said, “there is still time.”


From some wet place in the mud, amongst the corpses and rubbish, acting as the Reaper’s most unlikely herald, the little cuckoo chimed.




Minuette awoke to a rhythmic sound. Tick, thump, tick, thump. A heart-shaped key protruded from a hole in her chest, twitching round and round in a jerking, clockwise direction. Tick, thump, tick, thump—wet, meaty—tick, thump, tick, thump.


“Do not fear, my love,” said Reveil the clockmaker to Minuette, his finest masterpiece. “Now we have nothing but time.”

About the Author

Kat Hawthorne is the author of The Boatman and a nerd times three. Besides writing, she enjoys creating visual art and playing her cello. She is a mother to three small boys, who are unwittingly the inspiration for her need to write.

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