Finding Time

Bryn Maher’s grandfather died in a car crash a year ago.

But was it an accident… or something else?

When Bryn finds an old pocket watch in an antique store, a watch that looks identical to the one her grandfather had lost, she buys it on impulse.

But the watch hides an incredible secret.

And when Bryn discovers what it is, she is determined to find out the truth about her grandfather’s accident, no matter how much time it takes…

Formats: ebook $2.99

Genre/s: science fiction, mystery

Series: Time Will Tell

Audience: general, young adult

Length: novella

Available from your favourite retailer here.

Excerpt:

1.

Bryn Maher pulled open the door of the corner store and the summer heat folded itself across her skin, wiping away the brief respite of the store’s air conditioning. She let the door swing shut behind her and sent a last glance through the wide front window. She’d put her resume in here two weeks ago and been told that they weren’t hiring as the owner handed it straight back to her.

And now there was a new girl sweeping out the shop. She was maybe fourteen or fifteen, with spiked blond hair and headphones jammed into her ears, head nodding to the beat from her iPod.

Yeah, not hiring, all right. Not hiring anyone over sixteen. Because this kid would be on junior wages while the store would have had to pay Bryn minimum wage at least.

Bryn sighed and started the two-block trek home, her cloth grocery bags swinging in her hands. She’d managed to find a tiny one-bedroom unit which cost her a little under two-thirds of her Centrelink payments in fortnightly rent, but it was quiet and had a good internet signal.

And it kept her fit, climbing three flights of stairs multiple times a day.

The corner store was part of a strip of five shops dropped randomly into the middle of a sea of residential houses and unit blocks. It sold groceries and a tired-looking selection of sandwiches and hot food (and she really should find somewhere cheaper to shop too; their prices were horrendous). Beside it was a hairdresser, a tax agent, which was only open from ten until two, and an empty shop front. The last one in the row was some kind of antique or second-hand place. Bryn had put her resume in at all of them. In the two weeks since, she’d applied for literally hundreds of jobs, both online and handing out resumes.

Her case worker at WorkForAll, the job network provider she’d been assigned to to help her find work, was probably getting sick of photocopying her resume for her.

But she needed to work. She’d moved from her home in Gerringup, where there was no work at all, to Brisbane, the nearest big city, and her meagre savings were being eaten away fast. Not to mention she was bored out of her mind. But no one seemed to want to hire a short, mousy-haired eighteen-year-old-in-two-months with glasses and last-season’s fashion sense. Even if she did have a raft of A’s and B’s and three business and retail-related certificates from Year 12.

The fact that the late-summer heat wave currently hitting Brisbane had turned her hair into frizzled waves and had stuck her clothes to her skin probably didn’t help much, either.

She glanced at the bay window of the second-hand store as she passed, as she always did. The owner – manager? assistant? – changed the display once or twice a week, and if he had a schedule Bryn was yet to find it. But the displays were always interesting, and always had some kind of a theme. Last week had been teddy bears, then delicate glass vases.

Today it was clocks and watches. Lots of them, from a mini grandfather clock in the centre at the back, to carriage clocks and ones set into wooden arches. Collectable Swatches sat beside elegant wristwatches and quirky alarm clocks. There was even a garish retro Mickey Mouse watch, with Mickey’s arms for the hands, sitting in the corner as if it were embarrassed to be seen with the older, more refined, timepieces.

And, tucked in next to the foot of the grandfather clock, almost out of sight, was a small pocket watch.

Bryn would have missed it if it hadn’t been displayed with its lid opened and its face angled so that the sun struck a spark from its clouded glass.

She stopped and stared, stepping closer to the window and crouching to peer at it. It was half the size of her palm. Its plain metal cover was dimmed to a faded silver-gold, the etched design barely visible now, but its face was still clear and its hands were both intact.

The hairs on Bryn’s arms stood up. That faded design was as familiar to her as her own face.

It looked like Grandad’s old watch, the one which no one had been able to find after he died.

Bryn straightened, transferred her bags to one hand, and pushed open the door.

A bell tinkled softly as she slipped inside. The shop was dim and cool, unlike the oppressive heat that lingered outside, and it took her eyes a few seconds to adjust. She turned directly to the left, to the window, and set her shopping bags on the floor so she could peer around the mini grandfather clock to see the pocket watch.

From this angle she could see its battered casing, different shades of gold showing its age. The back was engraved, though she couldn’t see it clearly, and there was a short chain attached to the ring at the top. If it was Grandad’s, the engraving would be of a Celtic knot, the same complex image on both the back and front of the casing.

‘Can I help you?’ came a mild voice from behind her, and Bryn winced. That voice was young, and male, and she was leaning sideways around a grandfather clock with her backside sticking out. Not a good look. She straightened carefully, pushed her glasses back up onto her nose, and turned around.

He wasn’t much older than she was, maybe nineteen or twenty, it was hard to tell. He was clean-shaven, with rumpled sandy hair and the kind of blue-grey eyes which changed colour in different lights. They were grey now, and wary, as his gaze flicked to her hands, then down to her bags and back to her face.

Oh, crap, she thought. He thought she was stealing something!

‘Um, the pocket watch,’ she stammered, and felt her cheeks heat. ‘Can I see it? Please?’

‘Sure.’ He took a step forward and waited, and Bryn grimaced as she hastily moved aside. He must think she was such an idiot, she thought ruefully as he bent over, much as she had done, and reached into the display. He stood, the watch in his hand, and held it out to her.

She took it almost reverently.