A creative response to E.M. Forster's A Room with a View
Charlotte put down her fountain pen and signed the letter carefully, the floral e of Charlotte leading into the B of the cursive Bartlett. Why was it called cursive? It wasn't cursed writing, or not as far as she knew. She pondered its etymology as she curled a tilde-like cross over the double t. She loved the ceremony of sending a letter; getting out the faded stiff card, choosing the words to ink down, slotting it in the envelope, choosing a stamp. It was a piece of artwork, something she'd lovingly refined to a presentable level.
Charlotte placed her pen beside its sisters and inhaled peaceably. She looked at the old grandfather clock. It was nearly four. The doctor would call soon. She watched the pendulum undulate back and forth relentlessly. The worn brass circle at the end of the pendulum reflected her study as it swung. She could remember staring at the clock for hours at a time as a child, waiting for the chimes to toll the hour in majestic E major. When she was very little, her father would take out the secret brass key from his waistcoat and give it to her, before he lifted her onto his shoulders so she could open the glass door and wind the lightest weight so the clock kept ticking and tocking. Once a month, they'd go into the claustrophobic city with his pocket watch and take the time from Big Ben to check the grandfather was on schedule. It wasn't the most accurate, but it was the most fun, her father always said, before reminding her that it isn't the clock that's Big and called Ben, but the bell that tolls the hour again.
She'd had to call in a watchmaker to service the clock. It was very old, and had to be wound up three times a week now. But it still did its duty, swinging back and forth, to and fro, announcing the time for anyone who cared to hear it.
She was brought back from her thoughts by a polite knock at the door.
"Ma'am, Doctor Redgrave is at the door – shall I call him in?"
"Yes, Elinor. Thankyou."
Elinor nodded with a soft smile and swept away. Charlotte turned back to her desk and ran the corner of the sleeping envelope under her thumbnail.
The pendulum swung on.