Gregory Stout had always suspected there was something wrong with Lark Reems. He had known the first time he had laid eyes on that boy in sophomore year Chemistry. The class had been working on a difficult assignment over the Bunsen burners, but two lab tables away from Gregory, Lark had been glancing nervously up from his project. It was Lark’s first day but he already seemed to know what he was doing. His project, which they had only just begun, was already nearly finished. When Lark saw he was being watched he hastily dropped something gold and shiny into his pocket. Gregory had told his closest friend Jena about the shiny object and she had laughed and said he was being paranoid. He had pretended to shrug it off laughing, and blaming his nerves on caffeine, but throughout the year he had kept an eye on Lark, and it was a good thing too.
Now it was the last day of summer vacation and he had convinced Jena to accompany him to the park. He was tailing Lark as he had done all summer. Jena still didn’t believe there was anything wrong with Lark, even after all he had told her. Lark’s special shiny object, whatever it was, wasn’t normal. Once when he had seen Lark pull it out he had been only three feet away, then all of a sudden Gregory had lost track of him. A few minutes later he saw Lark crossing Main Street almost a mile up the road. Jena insisted that Gregory must have simply lost his concentration for a few minutes, but Gregory knew better. Something was wrong with this new kid in town, and that was no ordinary trinket he was constantly dropping into his pocket.
They were getting close to Lark now, and Gregory grabbed Jenna’s arm to slow her down. They couldn’t be heard sneaking up. He had learned over the past summer that Lark had amazing hearing. Gregory’s goal had been simple: he would get a hold of Lark’s trinket and figure out what it was to prove once and for all that something was wrong with that kid. They were very close know, a couple arm lengths away behind a tree. Suddenly Lark stopped walking. He looked around, and then reached into his pocket and pulled it out. It was a gold locket, with a green Emerald in-laid in the front. This was it.
Everything happened very fast. He lunged for the locket, and Jena grabbed his arm. As his hand fell on the smooth gold of the chain, Lark opened the locket, and then . . . nothing. Everything stopped. It was very quiet. The only sounds were his breathing, Jena’s heartbeat, and Lark’s grunt as he yanked the chain out of Gregory’s hand. Lark ran. He went past the fountain, silent, and frozen in time, drops of water glistening in the ever present sun. Gregory followed. He could hear Jena mumbling behind him, clearly in shock. He dashed forward onto Main Street following Lark. Only one thought pulsed over and over through his mind, “I knew it.”
As he ran down main street he saw Lark dash into an alley knocking over a trash bin. It made no sound as it landed on its side the contents spilling out over the side walk. Just as Gregory was losing his breathe and feared he’d have to stop, Lark turned toward him. From across the alley he yelled to Gregory. “You don’t have to do this. Don’t you see how wonderful it is? It will be summer forever! With only the three of us to enjoy it!” Gregory was stunned at this statement. “That’s what you’ve been trying to do? All year, all summer, all you wanted was one day?” Lark smiled and held up the locket. “Think about it. Just us, no one else. Free ice cream, unlimited video games, the whole world, with no one to stop us. We could do anything we wanted. And we would have all the time in the world to do it.” Suddenly Jena seemed to come out of her shock. “You mean to say that, that locket, that piece of jewelry, just froze time and the entire world too?” Lark seemed to see that they were listening and sat down on the dirty alley floor. He looked up at them, a coy grin still plastering his face. “Yup.” As Gregory let this new piece of information sink in Jena exclaimed, “Let’s go to Paris! Let’s go to Germany, Let’s see the whole damn world!” She jumped with delight and ran to Lark. Turning back to Gregory she said, “Oh C’mon! I bet there are a million things you’d like to do!” Indeed a few thing ran through Gregory’s mind; maybe more than a few.
The Trio spent what the locket told them was weeks in the span of one day. The clock in the locket, like them, had not stopped frozen in time. They had been everywhere, done everything, or so it seemed to Gregory. They’d eaten buckets of ice cream, taken a plane (piloted by Lark, who had put quite a few skills under his belt with the help of the locket.) to not only Paris, and Germany, but to most of Europe. They had stolen cds, and guns, and everything they ever wanted. Gregory was getting tired, but Jena and Lark were already planning their next excursion. Sitting in Lark’s basement, Gregory decided he was hungry and announced he was going up for snack. The two barely heard him.
He passed Lark’s mother frozen at the stove. He had seen her almost every day, but for some reason her being there bothered him today. She, of course, was completely unaware of her son’s activities as she happily prepared to cook him lunch. Gregory stopped and looked at her. The kind smile on her face broke something in her soul. He felt queezy. Where was his own mother, this very second? What had she been frozen doing? How long would Lark’s mother have to stand by the stove, preparing to cook lunch? When these thought occurred to Gregory he made a decision.
Gregory raced down the stairs to the basement and cleared his throat loudly. Jena and Lark looked up. Gregory wasn’t sure how to say what he was thinking. For a minute he shifted his weight from foot to foot and then he cleared his throat once more. “Listen, maybe we should do this tomorrow.” Lark cocked his head to the side and said, “Oh, sorry Pal, did you have an idea?” He didn’t understand so Gregory tried again. “I was just thinking,” he crossed the room and sat next to them on the floor. “Maybe it’s too much for one day. Maybe we should, you know, unfreeze everyone and pick everything up another day. Lark finally understood his hand moved to the locket as he said. “I knew you would do this. They always do this.” He grabbed for the locket, but Gregory was faster.
As his fingers closed around the gold locket he jumped to his feet and ran. Lark was on his tail. Jena had fallen behind and stopped. He ran like he had never run before. He ran like Lark had run. Gregory was faster though, and lark started to slip behind. He was a great way ahead in no time and he dashed into the men’s room by the park. He locked himself in a stall. He didn’t know how to make it work. He opened it, and closed it, and opened it again. Nothing. He heard footsteps outside and made a quick decision. He would smash it. He threw the locket on the ground and as he raised his foot he heard Lark scream, “We can’t do it again! We can’t! I’m leaving tomorrow!”, but it was too late as his foot fell with a crunch he saw a little metal arrow fly from under his foot, the clocks hour hand. Lark was outside the stall on the floor, crying.
Gregory heard him crying and he also heard tinkling from the next stall, then a relieved sigh, and a zipper being pulled up. The man in the next stall must have heard Lark to because he leaned down, patted him on the shoulder, and said, “its ok kid, you’ve still got a whole day left of summer. You should go enjoy it.” With that Lark ran from the room, and Gregory stepped out into the park a few minutes later to the sound of a fountain, children laughing, and the squeak of the swing set as several swings finally descended to the ground. Gregory went home to get his bag ready for school the next day. He would miss Lark, but he missed his family more.