So obviously not 500 words, but who likes arbitrary word count restraints anyway?
Codwell the Clown
Word Count: 952
Being left at school after Show and Tell wasn’t all that bad for Codwell the Clown. It was kind of peaceful not being wrestled, or tossed or dropped for once. In fact, thought Codwell, it was too bad it wasn’t Friday with the weekend stretched out in front of him. His boy, his Thomas, always exclaimed in such an excited voice how great the weekend was. Or maybe it was the weekend, after all. Honestly, Codwell wasn’t really sure about stuff like that. Time could be funny for him. Thomas seemed so much like Robert before him, and David before him, that sometimes Codwell mixed them up. Time had a way of blending like that when you were an old toy.
Yes, it was good to be alone for a bit. To have a few hours of his very own to think his own thoughts and to enjoy all that was new about being at the school. New smells, new sights, new sounds. A wonderland.
The teacher had set him on the shelf and all day long he’d had a pretty good view of everything going on in the classroom. Twenty-two desks lined up like soldiers. The teacher’s desk at the front. A whiteboard with bright pen marks all over it, that stretched from one side of the room to the other. Another wall of windows and while it lasted Codwell had gleefully watched the sunset in a glorious melange of oranges and reds and yellows. A wonderful distraction for a doll who spent most of his time in a north facing bedroom. The colors had made his eyes tear up, just a little.
Then the room had settled into darkness, and that was okay too. It brought silence and contemplation that was only disturbed once by the janitor who swept the floor with the bright overhead lights turned on like a second sun. Codwell had watched him curiously. Soon enough it was darkness again.
Codwell was tired after such an eventful day. He didn’t sleep ever, but he did occasionally grow tired, and was glad of rest.
He thought over his day, remembered sitting proudly at the front of the room being admired, hearing Thomas tell the short version of his storied past.
“This is Codwell the Clown,” Thomas had told his classmates. “He used to belong to my dad and before that to my grandpa. My grandpa said he came from a toy shop in England and that makes him special.”
Codwell had beamed the whole time, sitting up as straight as possible feeling exhilarated until one little boy in the back had said, “Is he haunted? Like a ghost. He looks old enough to be haunted.”
It hadn’t even made sense. Haunted? How could a toy as old and joyous as Codwell ever be haunted? To be haunted was to be evil, everyone knew that. Codwell wasn’t evil–he was love. Thereafter no one would touch him. They stopped talking about him except in hushed tones and some of the children even averted their eyes as if Codwell might be dangerous! It was perplexing and vexing both.
Come to think of it, maybe that was why Thomas left Codwell at school. He frowned, and a sinking feeling filled Codwell and worry wormed its way into his stuffing. He didn’t want to become an unloved toy, an abandoned toy. A forgotten toy. While Codwell worried thus, the hours passed, night came and went. The witching hour approached, that magic hour when ghosties walked about. Of course, Codwell knew nothing about ghosties, but that didn’t stop one from visiting him. Hallways long silent suddenly filled with the bell-like sound of a clock, a clock that did not exist in the school, at least any longer. Once, a hundred years ago, a grand clock decorated the front hall. It pealed off the hours of the day from morning until midafternoon when all of the students walked home. Then it pealed off the hours through the night, when no one was around to hear it.
No one, that is, except William Quinn.
Codwell counted the slow and sonorous bells: one, two, three. Then he heard footsteps, light, dancing, whisper soft. A face peered into the room, all smiles and teeth just inside the doorway. The boy, brown haired wearing a red sweater in a style from a hundred years ago, shimmered into the room and up to the shelf where Codwell sat and stood before him. His smile became wider, his eyes darker, like black holes and Codwell feared he might fall into them. The boy’s teeth shined and sharpened. One hand reached for the toy and Codwell could see through it as if the boy was smoke, or a dream. The fingers were solid enough though and grasped his trousers and pulled him off the shelf and made away with him, out of the room, and through the hallway and down the passageway of time.
“I’m really sorry, Thomas but I didn’t see your doll yesterday. Are you sure you left it at school and not on the bus?” Thomas’s teacher lied, but it was a little white lie. She both wanted to the little boy to like her and also to make sure that he wasn’t upset all day at school fretting over his toy. She had seen it on Friday but left it on the shelf where it clearly was no more. Perhaps another student stole it?
He said, “My dad’s really angry. I’ve got to find him.”
Thomas looked so worried that she felt bad. “We’ll look for him, okay? Maybe one of the other teachers saw him.”