A spinning top makes an eerie appearance in the middle of the night.
|I awoke to the deep sigh of the great clock in the hall. As I regained consciousness, the clock’s lament filled the house from basement to attic with what can only be described as an aged longing, one magnified through time and space as it passed through walls much more recently erected, walls the clock could claim no kinship to.
I lay alert for a few moments, frozen with the realization of finding myself the only one awake at that strange and mysterious hour. A time where night settled deep and heavy between floorboards and amid the pale blue stalks in the garden. In this early hour the bright rays of morning rose far away across the ocean on another continent.
And yet as the low ringing faded, the peak of the latest hour passing unseen through darkened doorways, a faint whirring sound took its place. An unmistakable whisper of noise, rocking away and towards, away and towards. I slowly sat up, alarmed, hesitating with uncertain fear. Glancing to the side of the bed I sought the faintly discernible silhouette of my bedside desk, which, swept clean the day before, sat hidden by the room’s shadows.
The noise continued, and peering at the surface of the wooden desk I found another silhouette perched upon it. Thinly tapered towards the bottom and the top, bulging outwards at the middle, and smoothly polished all around, the object spun in tightly wrought circles upon the fine grain of the desk. It was my grandfather's ancient spinning top.
Years earlier, my grandmother shared with me her recollection of the meticulous care that had gone into the construction of such a delicate object. Childhood friends long before becoming each other’s first and only love, she remembered details of my grandfather’s childhood with uncommon clarity. My grandfather had carefully carved the top from the heart of an ancient beech. Then, with immeasurable patience, he had sanded and stained, burnished and rubbed, polished and primed, until finally he brushed glowing lacquer upon the wooden surface creating the smooth streamlined finish it bore today.
“A boys game,” my grandmother had said gently, swept away by the current of memory. “Yes, one he mastered with calculated brilliance.” Her eyes had regained their characteristic glow as she related the nature of the top. “Light, and fragile, its utter perfection was unsurpassed by the other little boys. When it spun, it was as if I was witnessing the work of a master craftsman, not the creation of a lanky eleven year old.” She had then sat back, awash in revitalized awe.
At this fearful moment however, awe and admiration were lacking on my part. In helpless astonishment, unwilling to mar the object’s circuitous track, I waited for the almost predestined route to end. Hours seemed to pass before it abruptly slowed, teetered for a moment, fell and rolled to a stop, resting innocently on its side. Its continuous track was now exhausted. I dared not touch it, for every time I reached to brush it off the desk, to remove the delicate instrument out of my line of sight, chills erupted across my fingertips, and I would freeze in muted fear. After multiple attempts I gave up, and settled back down into the soft, warm bed sheets, longing for a sleep that would not come.
(Picture of Top - Taken from "Inception")