August 28th, 2013

Infrared

Another impossible moment

At one time, my alarm clock and my telephone (a fixed line — this was a long time ago) sat next to each other on the headboard of my bed.

One night I was awoken out of a deep sleep by the alarm clock (or so I thought). To switch it off (I was very groggy), I picked up the telephone handset. My alarm clock began telling me that it had left its sunglasses and softball with me. It wanted them back.

I know I said something in response, and in fact my alarm clock and I had a short conversation, but I don’t remember anything I said. I was too busy trying to figure out how an alarm clock could play softball. As an electric clock, it didn’t even have hands. It also didn’t have eyes, so why would it need sunglasses?

Could there be clock softball leagues? And who knew my alarm clock had a female voice?

The other party ended the conversation, and as I began to hang up the handset, I slowly understood what had happened. I had recently had a party. Someone had forgotten her sunglasses and a softball. My guest had called to recover them.

I had not talked to the alarm clock.

I asked around, and I waited for her to call back, but she never did. (What had I said?) After a year, I began to wear the sunglasses (hoping someone would recognize them), and eventually I gave the softball to the neighbor boys.

Inanimate objects rarely converse with us. One of my treasured memories, besides the time when the sun set in the east, is the time when I really thought I was talking to an alarm clock.

— Sue Burke

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