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Authors: Kathie Giorgio

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The Home for Wayward Clocks

BOOK: The Home for Wayward Clocks
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KATHIE GIORGIO lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin, with her husband, mystery writer Michael Giorgio, their daughter, Olivia, and an even number of beagles and cats. Kathie’s three older children live close by. She is the director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio that offers online and onsite support, encouragement, and education for writers of every genre and ability. She holds her BA in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and her MFA in Fiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. When she is not writing or teaching, she is painting.
The Home For Wayward Clocks
is her first published novel.

Kathie Giorgio’s
The Home for Wayward Clocks
is, as one would expect, intricately obsessed by time, and the ticking of memory and the revelation of secret tales give this distinctive novel its special power.

—Philip Graham

Kathie Giorgio has crafted a unique and believable tale about loss, love and learning how to live. A simple clock will never look the same once you finish this novel.

—Kris Radish

The Home for Wayward Clocks
is constructed with the same degree of intricacy and care as the timepieces contained within the novel’s depths. Giorgio portrays misfits with a sympathy few other writers can. Her first novel is a triumph that can stand alongside such classics as Carson McCullers’
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
, as an homage to those who would otherwise go unnoticed.

—Shaindel Beers

Rivet by click, pin by hammer, nut by verge, Kathie Giorgio has constructed a cuckoo clock of a novel complete with wild chimes, ominously swinging pendulums, and darkly mirrored interiors. Minute by minute, turn by turn, her finely tuned prose makes our hearts strike midnight.

—Abby Frucht

A Novel By

Kathie Giorgio

, N

Copyright © 2011, Kathie Giorgio

Cover image: Watercolor and ink drawing by Christopher T. Werkman Cover photographed by Ron Wimmer of Ron Wimmer Photography Author image by Ron Wimmer of Ron Wimmer Photography


These chapters appeared in different form in the following magazines:

Jabberwock Review
: “A Brief Battle”

: “Matching”

Lady Jane Miscellany
: “A Brief Battle”

Oyez Review

The Pedestal
: “Ticking”

: “What Counts”

“Marriage in Orange” was previously published in the Main Street Rag short fiction anthology,
A La Carte: Short Stories That Stir The Foodie In All Of Us

Library of Congress Control Number: 2010933347

ISBN: 978-1-59948-444-0

Produced in the United States of America

Mint Hill Books

Main Street Rag Publishing Company

PO Box 690100

Charlotte, NC 28227-7001


This novel is dedicated to, of course, the usual group of suspects: husband Michael, kids Christopher, Andy, Katie and Olivia. If I was a player on Wheel of Fortune, I would have to gush, “I have a tremendous husband and four wonderful children!” But I would actually be telling the truth.

It’s also dedicated to the students and faculty and friends of my studio, AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop. Your continued faith and belief in me, as a writer and as an instructor, keeps me going.

A special hug to student and best bud, Christopher Werkman, the artist who created the beautiful cover. You painted from my words, and James came to life.

And thank you to Main Street Rag Publishing Company for giving me this opportunity.

Lots of love and gratitude to everyone. Thank you.



Chapter One


Chapter Two

Marriage in Orange

Chapter Three


Chapter Four

Held Fast

Chapter Five


Chapter Six

A Lady’s Hair

Chapter Seven


Chapter Eight

A Brief Battle

Chapter Nine


Chapter Ten


Chapter Eleven


Chapter Twelve

What Counts

Chapter Thirteen


Chapter Fourteen

From the Mouth

Chapter Fifteen


Chapter Sixteen

Steps to Stages of Theatre in the Round

Chapter Seventeen


Chapter Eighteen

Kiss So Black.

Chapter Nineteen


Chapter Twenty

Go Gentle

Chapter Twenty-One


Chapter Twenty-Two

Fistfuls of Magic

Chapter Twenty-Three


Chapter Twenty-Four

Fat Girl Outside

Chapter Twenty-Five


Chapter Twenty-Six


Chapter Twenty-Seven



he baby was crying again and Helena paced the floor. The thing just never shut up, never left her alone. It didn’t matter if she gave him breast or bottle, picked him up or put him down, played a music box or left him in silence, he cried and cried and cried. She knew he slept sometimes, she knew it. She watched him. But even then, even when he breathed deep in sleep and his eyelids fluttered above flushed cheeks, she still heard his piercing voice shriek on, flying into all her corners and curves of silence.

Now she turned away, leaving the baby alone again in his room. She called her husband at work. “He won’t stop,” she said immediately after his hello. “I’m going to kill him, I swear I’m going to kill him.” Then she slammed the phone down.

Returning to the nursery, she stared down at the baby, his eyes squeezed shut, his mouth a dark echoing oval. A cave, she thought. His mouth is a cave and I’m going to fall in and be lost forever. He wants to swallow me whole. “Shut up!” she shouted.

The baby gasped and stopped, closing his mouth and opening his eyes. He looked at her, he looked straight at her, and then he raised his arms and wailed again.

“Please, please,” she said. “Please, please. Just be quiet for a little while, just ten minutes, just five.” She rocked his cradle, back and forth, fast then slow, but he screamed just the same. He waved his arms and finally, she snatched him up and squeezed him tightly. He quivered and curled against her, pressing his hot damp face into her neck. She felt his heat spread like a river through her body and her own skin began to moisten.

Carrying him, she paced around the room. “Please, please,” she said over and over. “Please, please.” She felt his body relax and after a while, she tugged him away from her neck to see if he was sleeping.

He wasn’t. He stared at her, not blinking.

Quickly, she put him back in his cradle. The corners of his mouth turned up and he seemed to smile. For that moment and that moment alone, she felt her lips reflex and she smiled back at him.

Then she stepped away and immediately, he began to cry again. It started out low, but it built up quickly and soon his voice took solid shape, stuffing itself through doorways, crashing against windows, layering itself on the floor like wave after wave of briny thick water. His hands and feet beat furiously at the bars of the cradle and his head whipped from the left to the right.

“Stop it!” she screamed. Running back across the room, tearing through his voice, she put her face against his. “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” Then she took his blanket, his stuffed bear, the little gift pillow with his birth date and weight and length embroidered on it and stacked them all up on his face. If enough was there, it would muffle his cries. Then she flew out of the nursery to the living room and sat on the couch. She covered her ears with her hands and she rocked.

She remembered the pregnancy, the rolling contortion of her body, the pressure of those horrible first and last kicks. Her husband crowed with delight, but she cried at the way her stomach heaved, the way her skin molded around the baby’s knee or elbow or head. She knew that he writhed and howled inside her, his mouth perpetually wide, sounds thrashing through fluid, disturbing her sleep, disturbing her thoughts. She dreamed of babies with voices like foghorns, factory whistles and firetruck sirens. She woke to find her belly surging, toppling her in the bed. Then came the labor and the pain that left her hearing only her own voice, bent out of shape from screaming. The pain promised more to come and it did, a wet, blotchy baby against her chest, blood smeared on his face and her breasts, and he opened his mouth and screeched.

Now a shadow passed by and Helena felt a breeze on her cheek. Looking up, she saw her husband’s back as he ran into the nursery. She took her hands from her ears and realized it was quiet. She held her breath. Then, as big wails flooded the room, she curled herself into a ball. Her husband appeared in the doorway, holding the baby. “He was turning blue!” he yelled and the baby bawled louder. “You could’ve killed him!”

“I said I was going to,” she whispered, but she turned away, her fingers shaking. She heard her husband go back to the nursery, and then there was his off-tune tenor as he changed the baby’s diaper.

“Oh, where have you been, Jamie boy, Jamie boy,” he sang. “Oh, where have you been, charming James?”

That soft voice, that used to sing to her. That called her Helena baby, Helena sweetheart, come to bed, Helena girl. Come to bed. And she did and he kept calling her back and then she grew large and soon there was no more quiet, no more silence. Only noise and more noise.

“Jamie crack corn and I don’t care,” her husband sang. The baby was quiet, except for the hiccups.

Yet she could still hear him screaming. It was there behind her husband’s soft croon, in the hollow echo of the baby’s wet belches. Helena surged to her feet and ran from the house.

he bathed in the moonlight. She shivered just a little, but the soft silver kept her warm, a light blanket of silence. There was no noise on top of the hill. She didn’t even hear any birds. Down below, lights sparked like fire in her house and her husband’s shadow moved from window to window. There was a dark curve on his shoulder and she knew it was the baby.

BOOK: The Home for Wayward Clocks
12.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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