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I opened the desk drawer for something else and saw the burgundy velvet bag nestled in the corner, its drawstrings pulled tight. Unwilled, I reached for it, remembering the black-gloved hand and professionally grave expression of the youngish funeral director as he offered it to me at the end of the formalities.

My mother’s watch. Not an heirloom, not even her size: a plain black Timex that I’d bought for my nephew and he’d passed on to his grandma. At the beginning of her last long illness it was loose, and by the end it was a bracelet that could fit halfway up her forearm or hang at her wristbone, the face turned towards her. From the bed that was her home for thirty months, she’d check it habituallly without being able to tell the time.

I stretched the bag open, saw the ends of the watchstrap curled in on each other, and gently pulled them out.

tick-and. tick-and. tick-and.

The time was still right: five hours ahead, two years and some onward. The date correct by a trick of the timezone. A press of the crown, the dim turquoise light.

My breath aligned with the seconds as I straightened out the band, focusing on the worn liver-spotted leather on its back side. There I rested my fingertips, the barest touch, and closed my eyes to be elsewhere.

At some point the battery will die and I’ll not notice, only knowing if I choose to look. For now, it lives.