The Cuckoo Clock
by John E
The explosion at the oil refinery across the river vibrated windows throughout the house. A palpable sound, it was made more enigmatic by the dumb blurts of the cuckoo clock following it by less than half a minute, almost precisely at midnight. This mingling of a dark unknown and a cartoonish mockery sculpted in relief the low tides of orgasm in the now-calm sea of the couple’s bed.
Rachel had her husband inside her, squeezing his erection as she bounced determinedly above his unmoving body. When the house shook she gave him one last hidden squeeze and surrendered with an awkward exhalation. Her husband easily recognized what was taking place and began to buck upwards and into her, frantically trying to match her release. For him it wasn’t necessarily a special event when they came together, but it was not enjoyable when she finished before him. His pleasure became a very localized event, like scratching an itch on one’s calf. He sensed also that Rachel’s earlier orgasm – no matter how briefly intense – translated his self-satisfying thrusts and flailing into interruptions and annoyances throughout her peak and cool-down. They had been married long enough for both of them to reduce the act regularly to this familiarity of steps, even if longing was still there. The silence and stillness of bodies afterward held more pain for this
“What the hell was that?” he snapped as Rachel fell sideways from atop her husband, and sprawled ungracefully beside him.
“I don’t know.” Her words seemed mechanical. She had the odd sense they were stuck together, glued to each other, and made sense in that way, more so than in their meanings. The distant roar gave way to the brief sound of quivering glass. For a moment Rachel imagined the tinkling of glasses touched together in a toast. Brash mechanical music drew this from her as midnight was announced by a painted bird.
Years ago, as she became comfortable with the regular clockwork, she admitted that anyone could always find a bit of charm in the odd and bold way the piece cuckooed their time together. Most of the time she barely noticed the sound. When she did, however, she searched for that scrap of levity and whimsy. That redeemed the sometimes oppressive and automatic impression she had created that the timepiece was mocking their unstoppable passage.
Beyond that, once in a while she used it as a point of departure for fantasy, and imagined the bird continuing its harsh song – cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo – on and on until it propelled itself away from the wall – cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo – plumes of lavender and blood red, wings beating slowly in waves of uncaring, soaring flight. The bird swooped low – cuckoo cuckoo – and brushed its soft feathers across her nipples as she watched; it landed on her tummy and walked across her without regard, pressing into her flesh. Cuckoo cuckoo. Rachel would watch in her mind’s eye as it took off and returned to the its dark carved wooden home, and disappeared behind tiny doors until animated once more by weights and pulleys.
Her husband had made her thighs sticky. She touched what he left her as he left the bed. The house was silent once again. He was already on the phone, talking to Jerry down the block. The two of them were speculating on what the noise meant – what would turn out to be an explosion miles away.
Rachel pictured the dark wood of the cuckoo clock, in the darkness of the hallway downstairs. She raised her arms and touched fingers to fingers. She felt her husband on them.
“I don’t know,” she repeated to herself, and turned over as her husband put down the phone.
© 2014 John E. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.