Baton of the Clock



Year 12 Student

Desirée’s tailbone rammed into the hard plastic of the folding chair, while the bleach cleaner, veiled in artificial lemon scent, pierced the harsh fluorescent light. The rattling exhalation and reassuring regular beep impregnated the silence of the hospital room. Desirée clasped her sweaty hand around the girl’s cold arm as if the touch was the umbilical cord, connecting the comatose patient to the terrestrial world.  

The girl was like a fragile porcelain doll, whose strands of delicate orange hair scribbled cirrus clouds on the light blue linen. Her translucent eyelids quivered like the flapping chitin wing of a dragonfly, and for an evanescent second, the speckles of green and brown fell into a kaleidoscope mosaic. The girl seemed celestial amid the bleakness.  

The resemblance between Desirée and the girl was undeniable. Only Desirée’s and the vibrant iris colour had been washed away by the stream of time.  

Desirée’s throat dried and small crevices formed in her lips, but she stayed with her young doll. She stroked her hand, lingering on a ring, decorated with a lemniscate. A symbol of infinity and eternal possibility.  

She had bought it from a colourful store at the bazaar at a fair. Hyping beats. Contagious giggling. Sugary lemonade. The intoxication of endorphins and oversaturation with confidence recalibrated her boundaries. Had led her to defy her personal gravity, the fear of heights, by joining her two best friends on the drop tower. Her heartbeat, accelerated by the cocktail of fear and excitement, climaxed in a crescendo. The view stretched over the sharp buildings, the suburban hills and into the sky, the breeze played with her hair, played with her senses. She had thought, if she could defy the forces of nature and overcome her own boundaries, she could always reach higher and eventually outstretch eternity. But suddenly, she dropped and was down on the ground.  

The strident siren lured her back. Three teal scrubs plunged into the room. A doctor inserted the intravenous plastic tube into the patient’s medial cubital vein. The infusion pump rebelled with silence.   

“Atrial fibrillation”, one of the doctors diagnosed, fixating the glance on the neon green mountain silhouettes on the black screen.  

The young girl’s breathing galloped. The clock’s hand was the conductor’s baton, its tick serving as a metronome for the girl’s panting and coughing. Staccato. Forte. Prestissimo.  


The duet of beeping and panting was the prelude to Desirée’s elegy of crying.  

She hunched over, numbness annexed her limbs, and a cold fog invaded her brain. The ring, now tilted, showed an eight. Eternity had turned into a heartbeat. A tick of the clock. Had limited her adolescence to eight years.  

With an apologetic head bowing, the doctors exited the room. Now, deprived of the gasping, machine beeping and careful whispers, the silence was shattered into seconds. Condemning the power of that fragile arm, forcing planets to orbit, time to depart, life to leave, she captured the baton, pushing it backwards. But there was only one direction, and the arm tirelessly progressed its circling.  

She propelled to the bed and pushed her joined hands, like the folded hands of prayer into the chest of the porcelain girl. Shattering into fragments, the girl fell apart. Desirée grabbed the crumbled shards with her bare hands. She filled another palm with brittle chips. Ground and crunched by the devouring maw of time.  

She would always be controlled by the despotism of time, ruled by the conducting of the clock. Playing the sonata of her fate.  

She was escorted out of the room by two receptionists, who led her to a seating corner. With every step, her austere hunched-up shoulders collapsed, and she sank into the soft cushion. A white sleeve handed her a glass. The agonising anguish and incarceration, anesthetizing her physiological needs had dissipated, and she dug her dry needy fingers into the grooves of the glass. The water infused her. A soft exhilaration. A gentle touch of life.  

The sliding door opened with a squeal.  

Stepping out of the sarcophagus of her past self, into the first light, glazing the cirrus clouds in pastel orange, one of the nurses called after her: “Your young Desirée will always be with you!”  

*This student has informed the Editorial Team that they wish to remain anonymous*