Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

12 Days of Squire’s Isle Christmas: 4 Faces Ticking

Summary: The town’s favorite watch repairwoman takes on a special task for the holidays and thinks back over the past few years.

The base was installed a few weeks before Christmas, a black obelisk with gold accents in the center of the City Park. When it was complete the clock would stand nearly seventeen feet tall. The final piece was an ornate four-faced clock with a banner in each direction. To the north, it identified the location as “Squire’s Isle.” To the east, “December Harbor.” West was “Washington State,” and south simply said “Home.” Kira McManus finished with the mechanisms two days before Christmas and supervised as it was carefully placed atop the pedestal.

Mayor Hood-Colby had arranged for the clock’s installation for the New Year’s Eve festivities. It was pricey, but it would be a permanent installation and used in all future New Years’ celebrations.

As the final piece was placed, Kira felt a twinge of loss. She’d been working on the clock for weeks, making sure it was absolutely perfect, and now she had to abandon it to the wild. The city would maintain the exterior, but she would be brought in if there was any clockwork repairs that needed to be done. Still, she hated saying goodbye to any of her pieces, and this was one of the biggest things she’d ever done. And she would never have done it without Hannah’s insistence.

A year earlier they were at the festival, huddled together against the cold, and Kira had off-handedly mentioned there should be some kind of official clock for the countdown. There was a digital clock they used to count from eleven until midnight, and then it flashed the year, but Kira had always hated how gauche and modern it was. Squire’s Isle needed something more beautiful and classic, especially in those magical days right after Christmas when the whole town was dusted with snow.

“You should write a letter. We have a new mayor now.”

“Yes, a mayor who can’t fall back on the deep Dugan pocketbook.”

Hannah said, “The campaign said she wanted to beautify the city. A nice clock in the middle of the park would fall under that category. I’m sure you could make something beautiful.”

“Me? No. No way. I wouldn’t be asked to do something that important.”

“And why not?”

“I’m just… I’m just…” She shrugged and sighed. “There’s got to be someone better for the job.”

Hannah said, “Nope. I think you forget I’ve seen your work. You would make a beautiful clock, something this town would be proud of. Promise you’ll at least send a request. The city council can vote on it, and it’ll be in their hands.”

Kira found it incredibly difficult to say no in the face of Hannah’s irritating belief in her. She pressed hard against her shoulder and then surrendered.

“All right. I’ll write a letter. Are you happy?”

“Thrilled.”

Kira really hadn’t expected anything to come from the letter, but she received a response within a month. One of the councilmen was very interested in the project and wondered if she could work up a design to present at their next meeting. She remembered anxiously drawing up something she thought would work with the aesthetic of the park and reflect the nature of the town. Hannah helped her with the finer points of the design since she was more visually-adept. She knew what sold houses, and she knew what pleased the eye. Kira submitted the drawing and went back to her normal workload.

Three days after Valentine’s, she received a letter asking her to officially present her idea to the mayor. She nearly threw up on the letter, calling Hannah to come over and talk her out of it. “I’ll withdraw the idea. I can’t stand up there and…”

Hannah had cupped Kira’s face and kissed her hard, letting her lips linger until the fight went out of her lover. Kira sagged against her, moaning plaintively as she put her arms around Hannah’s neck.

“It’s a clock,” Hannah whispered. “You make the best clocks in the world, and you’ve designed an incredibly beautiful one. The town wants it. You just have to convince them of what you can do, and I have faith you’ll do it marvelously.”

“You have faith in me.”

“Utter faith.”

Kira sighed. “You suck.”

Hannah laughed. “If you want me there for moral support, I’d be happy to take the morning off.”

So Kira put on her best outfit, borrowed one of Hannah’s blazers, and let Georgia Durbin style her hair so she looked semi-businesslike. She went to the council meeting and, when her name was called off the sheet, she stepped up to the crane-like microphone and eyed the people sitting in front of her. She met the mayor’s eye and swallowed a lump in her throat when she smiled. Mayor Hood-Colby was gorgeous, elegant, suave, and Kira was a shaking lump in a blazer that had sleeves too long for her. She resisted the urge to push them up and glanced over her shoulder to see Hannah.

Hannah winked and gave her a thumbs-up.

Kira took a deep breath. “Good morning… my name is Kira McManus. I own Everything for Time, which, um, is a watch and clock repair shop.” She tucked a loose hair behind her ear. “I presented a proposal for a clock which would be placed in City Park in time for this year’s New Year’s Eve countdown.”

She continued, focusing on the details of her proposal, and tried not to watch the council’s reactions. When she was finished she thanked them for their time and finally looked up from her sheet. “Are, um. Are there any questions?”

Mayor Hood-Colby thanked her for the presentation and promised they would be in touch when they came to a decision. Weeks and months passed, and Kira soon got over her anxiety by focusing on work. She was certain the clock idea had gotten lost in the shuffle of town business. Even if they wanted to make the clock she doubted it was in the budget. It wouldn’t do her any good to worry herself over something that wouldn’t happen, and she didn’t need to waste stress on a job she wouldn’t even have to do.

In August, the mayor’s office contacted her to ascertain when she could begin work.

After that, all work took a backseat to what she and Hannah started calling the City Clock. They met with a city planner who helped them find the proper placement in the park, and she contracted out the construction of the plinth that would hold the clock aloft. Everything came together as she designed the actual clock, designing each face separately on her workbench. She started staying at work until after dark, and Hannah began bringing her dinner. In the past Kira would have just trudged upstairs to her little apartment to get some rest. Hannah had changed that as well.

“You need some distance from work,” she said. “You need to have a mental separation between work space and living space.”

“How much distance?”

“I don’t know. How far is your shop from my apartment?”

Sometimes Kira still found it hard to believe she was dating, living with, in a serious relationship with the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. She kept mentally retreating, partially sure she was just saving herself the emotional damage when Hannah eventually got tired of her. The distancing often led to fights, which always resulted in making up, which took Kira a step closer to believing Hannah wouldn’t leave her on a whim.

She held up one of the clock borders onto which she had written the name Squire’s Isle in an elaborate scroll. “I have the town’s name, the island, the state… but I need one more for the fourth face.”

“Everything for Time?”

“Oh, so tacky. An advertisement?” She shook her head. “No, I want this to be timeless. I want it to be there a hundred years from now.”

“Okay, um. United States?”

“No. That’s a little too far, I think. Why not just add Earth, the Milky Way, the Universe?” She held up the circular border that would be filled with one of the four clock faces she was designing. She turned so that it encircled Hannah, who was bent over her iPad oblivious to the scrutiny. “Home,” she whispered.

“Hm?” Hannah looked up and Kira put down the border. “What did you say?”

Kira used her pen to mark the sheet covering her work table. “Squire’s Isle, December Harbor, Washington State… Home.”

Hannah said, “I love that. That’s perfect. How did you come up with it?”

Kira looked up through her lashes. “I… looked at you. It just came to me.”

Hannah stepped around the table and rested her hands on Kira’s shoulders, massaging them gently. Kira closed her eyes and leaned back into the massage. She had changed in the years they’d been together. She’d grown and evolved into something more than just a watchmaker hunched over springs and gears. She had become someone worthy of Hannah’s love.

“I’d marry you if you asked.”

Hannah laughed. “Oh, so you’re putting it on me?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“I didn’t think that was something you wanted.”

“It’s…” Kira folded her arms back to stroke Hannah’s hands. “I don’t know. But I know you look at those wedding announcements, and I remember how we celebrated when same-sex marriage was legalized in the state. You tried to hide it so I wouldn’t presume, but I saw.” She brought one of Hannah’s hands to her lips. “I don’t think I’d want to marry anyone else. But I’d marry you in a heartbeat.”

Hannah bent down and kissed the side of her head. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Work progressed. They had other fights, they made up, Kira kept in touch with various entities at City Hall throughout the process and soon they were at the final step: actual installation.

She hadn’t planned to have the clock up and running in time for Christmas, but fate had made it possible. Once it was up, the plinth would be wrapped in a red ribbon and a bow would be placed on top of the clock. Mayor Hood-Colby asked if she would mind the temporary embellishments and Kira had assured her she was happy to have them. “It’s like a gift I’m giving to the city.”

“Does that mean I can cancel the payment?”

“Um…”

Patricia had laughed and assured her she was just joking. “You will be paid in full, I promise. You deserve it for such an amazing piece of art.”

Kira held onto the praise as she watched the workmen step back and admire the finished clock. The faces were each softly backlit, and her heart swelled at the sight. The clock she and Hannah had created together was actually real, was actually standing in the middle of City Park. In a week, the entire town would be gathered around watching as it ticked seconds into the future. Unbeknownst to anyone else, the base had a special dedication that no one else would ever see.

It was the largest piece of clockwork she’d ever designed, so she wanted to leave her mark on it somewhere. The designer told her that he could engrave something that wouldn’t be too conspicuous and she spent hours agonizing over what it should be. Finally she decided that the underside of the base would have her handprint carved into it. She rolled ink onto her palm and pressed it onto the cold stone, then stepped back and gestured for Hannah to do the same.

“Me? Why?”

“It’s yours, too. Just do it.”

Hannah inked her own palm and spread her fingers wide, covering Kira’s print with her own. It looked like a smeared palm with ten fingers extending from it, and Hannah winced. “I thought it would be cleaner than that. We can wash it off and…”

“Don’t. That’s perfect. That’s how I want it remembered. You and me, combined.”

Hannah watched her for a moment, then sank down to one knee. Kira’s breath caught, and she said, “Yes.”

Hannah laughed. “You didn’t let me ask.”

“It’s so antiquated… medieval, getting on one knee. What else were you going to do?”

“Well, I’m a sucker for tradition. Humor me. Kira McManus, will you marry me?”

Kira laughed. “If you want me.”

Hannah kissed both of Kira’s hands, then stood up to kiss her lips. “More than anything,” Hannah assured her.

The ring was under her glove, still new and strange on her finger. They hadn’t set a date yet, hadn’t set anything other than the intention to be married. It was enough for the time being. She heard someone approaching and turned to see her girlfr– her future wife approaching. She waved, and Hannah smiled as she slipped an arm around Kira’s waist and kissed her hello.

“Darn, I’m late. I wanted to see them light it up for the first time.”

“That’s okay. You’re worth waiting for.”

They watched the snow swirl around the soft golden glow of the clock face for a few minutes, the chill biting into Kira’s unprotected face. She pressed tight against Hannah and said, “Do you have plans for dinner?”

“I have to go back to the office and finish up some paperwork. Feel like waiting around for me? It shouldn’t be more than an hour.”

“No problem. I can wait.” Kira nodded and rested her head on Hannah’s shoulder. “I have all the time in the world.”

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