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The Watch

By Julia Heaberlin

(D Magazine, July 2019)

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother when I was 3, playing with blocks.

“So I will remember to put you to bed,” she replied.

“She doesn’t care when you go to bed,” my grandfather said.

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother when I was 10, cutting out sugar cookie stars.

“Because the numbers are bigger,” she replied.

“Your grandmother can see the gnat on a bullet a mile away,” my grandfather said.

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother when she gave me her pearls.

“It was my father’s,” she replied. “ It reminds me of his heart ticking.”

“Her father never wore a watch,” my grandfather said. “And he had no heart.”

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother when she held my first child.

“To remind me that time heals all,” she replied.

“But she knows it doesn’t,” my grandfather said.

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked my grandmother while I wheeled her around a nursing home.

“It belonged to Paul Newman and someone might steal it,” she replied.

“Your grandmother stole it from Honest Joe’s Pawn Shop in Deep Ellum when she was only 10,” my grandfather said.

“Why do you wear a man’s watch?” I asked, as she lay dying.

“To hide a terrible scar,” my grandmother whispered.

“And the past,” my grandfather said.

© Julia Heaberlin

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