Gladys walks slowly across the road, carefully avoiding the puddles of rain along the way. The weather is just as grey as her mood. Her heart is heavy with too many burdens. She can barely feed her child and husband. They are behind on rent and Claudia, her daughter, needs new shoes. Choking back tears, Gladys enters John Fish’s Pawn Shop.
“Good afternoon sir. I would like to sell this please.”
She hesitantly pulled a wristwatch from her moth eaten jacket pocket.
“Ai mam, that is a real beauty you have there. Genuine gold that is I’m sure. You will get a pretty penny for this little ticker but why would you want to sell such a precious gem?”
The shop manager, John Fish, inspected the watch with curiosity, turning it this way then that way.
“It’s a Patek Philippe. It was made in 1962 and belonged to my grandmother. She passed it on to my mother and my mother gave it to me on my 21’st birthday. And yes, it’s real gold. Oh, I’m sorry for rambling like this, I would just hate to see it go. But you see, I can barely keep my husband and daughter alive, so I have no choice. I have to sell it.”
Gladys wipes the tears from her eyes with a handkerchief. She sighs and gently touches the watch in John’s hand, as if to say her last goodbye.
John notices the raw emotion in her voice and feels deeply sorry for this woman. She is clearly at her wits end. He walks around the counter, placing the wrist watch in Gladys’s hand. As if drawn together by gravity, they lock in an embrace with lasted longer that it should have.
“You don’t have to sell this, you know,” he whispered in her ear.
As if wanting to disappear into this man’s arms, she lifted her lips to his. The kiss they shared spoke of lust, desperation and years of unwanted pain. Gladys broke the kiss and gave a shy chuckle.
“I’m not sure what that was.”
“I know what that was yes. Its fate that’s what it is. That watch of yours was part of our destiny,” he said.
John took Gladys’s hand and he led her to the storeroom. There they made love, passionate love, love that neither of them has ever known. They fell asleep in each other’s arms, holding on to one another for dear life.
There were lots of tears and fights as Gladys told her husband that she would be leaving him. She left the house, leaving them with the last bit of money she could spare. A strange calmness came over her, as if she was under some sort of spell. She had worked so hard over the years to provide for her family but almost instantly, she just didn’t care anymore. She went to live with her new love, John and shared in all his riches. Yes, John was a very rich man. Gladys would never have to worry about money ever again.
Gladys got used to the glamorous lifestyle she now shared with John. The parties and expensive cars was a huge delight to her. One of John’s friends was having a party for his wife. Gladys and John were there in their brand spanking new Mercedes.
“Why Gladys, you look absolutely stunning in that gown!” her friend complimented.
“Thank you so much.”
Gladys reached into her handbag for a peppermint. Her hand brushed over something cold. As she peeked inside, her heart caught in her throat. There, in her bag, lay the wristwatch that she wanted to sell all those years ago. She took at out and glanced at it. She was reminded of what her mother had told her when she gave the watch to her.
“My darling girl,” her mother had said.
“You must protect this watch with your life. Make this watch your heartbeat. When your heart beats pure, the watch will sick strong but when your heart becomes unfaithful the watch will betray you. For when the watch stops ticking, your heart will also stop beating.”
As Gladys watched the hands ticking away to nearly midnight, she was shocked to see it suddenly stop. She felt a sharp pain shoot through her heart and she knew all those years ago, her mother was trying to warn her. Money was not everything.
She sunk to the floor, John catching her.
Before the last breath escaped her lips she whispered, “I’m sorry John, for dragging you into my curse.”