All Souls’ Day

The father thought about Ward 3C, the last place he had seen his son alive before the boy’s suicide.

His thoughts turned to the time his watch — an expensive gold Seiko his second wife had given him a few months earlier — stopped at 10:52 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2.

It was the day after Will’s funeral. His father was in a hotel room in Toronto, yelling in his Xanax and beer bewilderment that he was going to “get” the psychiatrist who had released Will from Ward 3C, perhaps before he should have.

In a black notebook in which he’d been keeping a record of past events the father angrily wrote: AINSLEY! THURSDAY! Apparently to confront the psychiatrist the next day and — do what? Threaten him? Kill him?

And that’s when the sweep second hand on his Seiko stopped dead. The batteries were supposed to last up to four years — he had been guaranteed this — and yet they gave out at that precise moment. Why then, at that very second?

The father considered the possibility that Will or Will’s spirit had stopped the watch because of what he had been yelling about the psychiatrist, knowing, as Will now possibly did, that he was on the wrong track, that it wasn’t Ainsley’s fault, or anyone’s fault.

The next day the father put the question to his ex-wife. She was a Catholic and had a belief that he envied. “Do you think Will stopped the watch because I was threatening to do something to the psychiatrist?”

“That’s possible,” she said. “But more likely, 10:52 p.m. Wednesday was the moment Will ascended to Heaven.”

The father was about as irreligious as you could get, but he liked the way his ex-wife’s mind worked.

“That was All Souls Day,” she said, “when Christians pray for the souls who are being purified in purgatory so they may enter Heaven.” The funeral had been held the day before, so it made sense, even to a pagan.

The father never got his watch fixed. It was a valuable clue, a historical artifact. He’d never tamper with stuff like that. It was found in his apartment after his own death, still frozen at 10:52.


Excerpted from original story:

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