Second Hand Stopped.

by Dan

Delyth’s stall in Camden market looks the same, but worse. Like her face observed in the 6 mirrors on the back wall. The ravages of time do for everything in the end.

8 clocks rest on three mantlepieces. Their second hands have stopped at various points on their journey around the face.

An ancient rugby ball signed by Barry John, the only thing that has survived of her first life in Wales drapes like a Salvador Dali clock, deflated and irrelevant.

Pinned to the wall behind it is a map of the world. On this the many tiny countries which surround the Adriatic like sunloungers by a hotel pool have been replaced by the word “Yugoslavia”. The map has some slits in its folds and a coffee cup stain forms an exclusion zone around Chile and Argentina.

In the background a tiny scratching sound emanates from somewhere, slightly impinging on Delyth’s consciousness.

At 58 Delyth has not seen much of the world beyond London except a couple of abandoned inter-rails, the rest of the world was always hicksville.

But now she is broke, alone and middle aged.

Back in the day. She’d fascinated herself! “Polyamorous” before it was a word, She’d got high In a lowlife squat she shared in London. Liaisons with a female bassist in a punk band, a strange Central European called Lotte, and Kev who had started the stall when Camden was cool and not just a scrum for Japanese tourists.

They had all been determined to do what they wanted in a world ripe for changing.

Until the other women had disappeared and what Delyth wanted became secondary to what Kev wanted. Which was more heroin.

Her urban mockney, picked up immediately when she’d bunked on the London train at 16 was hoarse from too many roll-ups in licqourish papers, it was a voice no one used anymore. Young Londoners had their odd mix of cockney, Jamaican and Australian which she couldn’t do, she feels old fashioned, outnumbered.

All this useless junk surrounds her and corrodes her mind, makes her worry. It is all that remains of Kev. How very apt! Delyth’s attention is finally caught by the surprising rustling, this emanates from a distressed ottoman.

She opens the lid and discovers a mouse family which has made a home inside it. They’ve chewed their way in from the back and have shat all over the unruly pile of handkerchiefs inside. But they look so settled and familial she can’t bear to disturb them.

She leaves them to it.

She feels like Miss Havisham, standing here with all her clocks telling stories of different times, none of them very happy.

She looks at the rugby ball again and is strangely warmed by it’s presence and the cheery mouse family she’s discovered. She picks up her scratched mobile and phones her 80 year old mum on the old number, in the old house.

And finally, just like that, after 42 years of running away, Delyth is going home.