The Clock in My Mother’s House Runs Backwards


Our short story of the week is a story about ageing by Annalisa Crawford.

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall, UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons and canine writing partner, Artoo. In her spare time, she is a fitness instructor.

Annalisa writes dark, contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal. She has had many short stories published online and in small-press journals, and has won several competitions: her biggest success to date was third prize in the Costa Short Story Award 2015 with her story Watching the Storm Roll In. Her first book, Cat & the Dreamer, was published in 2012. Three more collections – from flash fiction to novella – followed, and her first novel Grace & Serenity will be published by Vine Leaves Press in July 2020.

The Clock in My Mother’s House Runs Backwards features a clock that seems to reverse time.


‘I can’t believe you kept it.’

It’s an ugly thing – a Year 8 woodwork project. Unevenly circular, almost egg-shaped where I over-planed to make tiny unnecessary adjustments, erroneous hour-increment markings where my chisel deviated around the grain. For some reason I painted a black cat on it – an eerie, wide-eyed, withered creature that watches me.

Only when I brought it home did I realise the mechanism was going backwards. Dad tried to fix it. I took it to my teacher, who tinkered with it at breaktime. Neither of them could resolve the problem, and I thought we threw it away.

‘I found it in the loft. I like it.’ Mum puts two mugs on the coffee table.

‘Where’s your stick?’

‘Oh, around somewhere.’ She wafts her hand dismissively. ‘I sometimes forget to use it,’ she says with a self-conscious giggle.

That’s a new one on me. Usually, she’s reliant on it, her spine folding in on her as she shuffles along, catching her foot on the carpet. Today she’s straighter and sprightlier. She sits without the customary groans.

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