It was 4:25 and her mother still didn’t have a clock. The old woman was now stooped over to see a lower clock. It was black and white with roman numerals. She turned around to face Kristi again.
‘Would this one fit?’ she asked.
Kristi came forward with her tape measure. ‘Yes, it would.’
‘I think I might like it.’
Feeling a rush of relief, Kristi leaned down to grab the selection.
‘I said I might like it.’
‘Well, how will you know for sure?’
‘I think I’ll take a picture of it and hang it on my wall for a while and decide if it fits.’
‘You can’t do that. I won’t be back to get it for you for a while. I’m busy at work. You have to pick one today.’
Kristi heard her voice rising and the salesclerk must have noticed too because a minute later, she walked over.
‘Can I help you with anything?’ she asked, glancing between the two. She was young and blonde with a high-pitched voice.
This is exactly what her mother wanted: more attention. Kristi considered bolting right then and there and leaving her mother to live out the rest of her days by that wall of ticking clocks.
‘I just can’t seem to find the right clock,’ her mother started. ‘I’ve moved into a new apartment, assisted living really, and my old clock just doesn’t fit. It’s a smaller wall, you see. Well, it’s actually a smaller room altogether. And I just loved my old place. But I had to move. Because…because I have… cancer. And my daughter just can’t come help out enough. Much too busy.’
The clerk looked toward Kristi. Her face with mixed with confusion and accusation. Kristi’s blood was boiling. It was all she could do to keep from screaming. But you can’t scream at your mother when she has cancer. You can’t even raise your voice without salesclerks rushing over in defense.
‘Well what size do you need?’ the clerk finally asked.
Kristi handed over the measurements she had been holding in her palm all day. She leaned against the nearest wall. The young clerk patted Kristi’s mother on the back.
‘We’ll find you something that you will love. I promise’ the clerk said.