The train finally reached the station, it had arrived precisely at a quarter-past-three, I knew this time because the humongous clock handing in the station said so and the steam train was due exactly at that time. The reason I mentioned that specific detail, which seems unnecessary at the time is because I did not have a watch on me, this piece of information might be seen totally out of place as well, however it is quite as important for the climax of future events depend on it, I will not go I’m to the detail how I did not come to possess a watch at that time.
By the time the train had come to a halt the so-far motionless station buzzed to life. It took exactly fifteen long seconds for the train to come to a complete stop; I counted every second that the train slowly dragged by till it came to a dead halt. It has been my habit to be very precise when it came to time; I was so keen on it that it soon became an obsession. This resulted, in me starting even count the time in seconds and not in minutes like other people. I was strange of me in a way, but nobody seriously minded.
As it happens my journey was one of several hours and as I stood on the station I realized I did not have any refreshments with me, as my arrival to the station was a sudden business matter that required my attention immediately and in my haste to attend to matters as soon as possible I rushed to station bringing only my most needed possessions. So I decided to go back to one of the vendors and purchase a bottle of water.
As I was walking back to the train I noticed a pair of very attractive young ladies, and they appear to notice as well, for they were looking in my direction and giggling. As soon as they realized that I myself had noticed them their faces when red, they tried to hide the face they were blushing! I smiled at them, one of the girls returned the smile, she looked very pretty and I notice that she had dimples on either cheek. The other girl, who seems to be her sister, appeared to be teasing the one that smiled at me. My heart was filled with satisfaction. But then, I realized we had an audience. An old man stood nearby sneering disapprovingly. I almost laughed, but decided against it, it might have even amused the girls if I had insulted the man, but I did not take the risk, for all I could know he could be their father or uncle or another male relative.
So I decided to get aboard the train as soon as possible, which I did. I looked for an empty cabin because I like to travel alone. Unfortunately, there were no empty cabins available, except for one which sat the old man from the station, he sat reading a newspaper.
“it had to be me,” I told myself.
I grudgingly dragged myself toward the old man and gently sat down doing my best not to annoy the old man who looked perpetually annoyed.
We rode for a while, and I dozed off at some point. For someone who is obsessed with keeping time, I rarely wake up from a deep slumber with my internal clock on point. unsolicited resets are the worse. My daydreams of romancing the girl at the station didn’t help to keep track of time either.
I looked down at my wrist, only to remember how I didn’t have one on me. I was mildly frustrated. Not knowing the time was never fun for me, and on top of that, it brought back the memory how I lost it in the first place (a story for another time).
The old man! he had a watch. I didn’t want to startle him. So I natually side eyed him a to check if he was awake, trying to steal a glance at his watch. This situation is quite distressing.
I muster up the little courage I have and turn towards the old gent. If there was ever a polite way to move one’s head towards a person, I was trying my best to attempt this.
“Good Sir, would you be kind enough to tell me what the time is?” I ask him as meekly as I knew how to.
“I wouldn’t” he scowled.
Never in the world did I image that response. Slightly annoyed I asked him quite frankly: “Why not? it wouldn’t take 2 seconds for you to tell me the time.”
“Young man” he paused to adjust his posture to face me.
“If I tell you the time now, we will start chatting and getting to know each other. You will prove to be a delightful young man and I will grow fond of you. We will exchange contact details and one fine when you are in town you will you will look me us and I will invite you for supper. While having a good time you will notice my daughter, she is beautiful and you will fall madly in love. She, in turn, will be smitten.”
“You will ask to marry her and I will agree. Eventually, all will fall apart and we will all be miserable.”
“So to save us all the trouble, I will not tell you the time.”