tagSci-Fi & FantasyGift of Time

Gift of Time


Do not open until the twelfth bell tolls midnight on Christmas Eve.


If opened before the specified time the gift within will become null and void.

"Well that's certainly odd. I wonder what it means?"

"I wonder where it came from? She hasn't had a single visitor that I know of in the two months she's been here. And this wasn't here an hour ago when I came in to check on her, visiting hours have been over way to long for somebody to get on this floor without being noticed."

"Hmmm," stated the first hushed voice barely above a whisper. "That's a good point, I have no idea how it got here. Maybe Santa brought it. It IS Christmas Eve." The last was said in an almost wishful intonation. The soft feminine tones held compassion, as she looked down at her charge lying small and wasted among the stark white hospital sheets.

"Well, there's no name; just this weird message. So, what do we do with it?" The second nurse held the brightly wrapped present in her hand looking quite perplexed.

"I think we should wake her up and give it to her."

The second nurse looked startled. "But Sheila, she's not going to make it through the night. Shouldn't we just leave her in peace?"

"No," the soft voice answered. "Somebody wanted her to have it. And after being alone all this time, I think it might do her soul some good, to know that somebody cares."

"Do you think she even realizes what today is?"

"Yes…" Came the barest response from the woman now lying with her eyes half opened looking up at the two white clad nurses standing at the foot of her bed.

Amid the beeping of the electrocardiogram and the gasp of the startled Sheila, an odd bonging noise intruded into the almost silent hospital room. The second nurse jumped and almost threw the silver and blue package she still held out in front of her realizing that the sound emanated from within the gift. A second later it bonged again.

"Midnight… rasped Lauren Gregory weakly. She'd already been somewhat awake when the two nurses had walked in softly to check her vital signs for about the fiftieth time, or so it seemed like, that evening. She's been drifting in and out of consciousness for most of the day, waking here and there to see her doctor's or nurses faces peering down at her expectantly. She wanted to shout at them, 'I'm not dead yet!' But it really seemed just too much of an effort. She knew her time was close, had felt it coming on for the last couple of days. At first it had terrified her, but now she was at peace with it. If death wanted her cancer-ridden body, then she'd decided he could have it. She was tired of fighting the pain, and she was sick of this damned hospital bed, which she'd graced for almost two months now. It wasn't like there was anyone out there who'd miss her anyway.

Glancing blearily at the still bonging gift, Lauren tired to raise her arm, but found she couldn't. Sheila, the sweetheart of a nurse who'd been taking care of her through the nights for these past weeks, saw her attempt and carefully took the gift from the other nurse 'what's her name'. Lauren never could remember what to call her, she wasn't as kind or willing to stop and talk as Sheila was, so she hadn't really found it important to find out who she was anyway. Coming around to the side of the bed Sheila held the gift closer so Lauren could see it better. It bonged for about the seventh or eighth time.

Lauren looked up at the other wall trying to focus on the big clock. Her cloudy vision wouldn't allow her to really make out where the big and little hands lay. But as the gift still bonged she figured it had to be close to the witching hour.

Looking back over her shoulder towards the clock Sheila smiled. "You're right, it's midnight. Merry Christmas Lauren."

Lauren tried to smile. But even her lips were too tired to cooperate.

Finally the bonging stopped.

"Well, the note here said you had to wait until the tolling of the bells at midnight on Christmas Eve to open this. Seems you woke up just in time. Would you like me to open it for you?"

Lauren nodded her acquiescence, almost too tired to care, but also feeling a spark of curiosity as to what someone might give her on her deathbed. She figured it was probably from Sheila, trying to make her last hours on this of all days a little happier.

Standing at the foot of the bed 'what's her name' stared inquisitively at Sheila's hands as she carefully unwrapped the gift as close to Lauren's range of vision as possible. When the beautiful silver and blue starry paper was finally taken off Lauren was dumbfounded to see a medium sized brown jewelers case held in Sheila's palm. Carefully raising the lid they both gasped at the delicate gold linked band and crystal faced watch lying inside the red velvet lined box.

Well at first glance it looked like a watch. But upon closer inspection Lauren noticed that there were no numbers denoting the time, or even minute or hour hands, just a rectangle right in the middle of the watch face with four zero's sitting there kind of like a mileage marker or counter of some kind. From the top of the lid a folded piece of paper slid out landing on the watch.

"Hmmm," Sheila murmured, "Let's see what this is."

Unfolding the small piece of paper, Sheila squinted reading the tiny print aloud.

You have been given the gift of time. It starts now. Remember a Christmas Eve you'd wish to revisit, and you shall have till the six bells of Christmas morn. Clasp the watch upon your wrist and put the year upon the face. Choose wisely for this gift can be used but once. Do not remove the watch, or you'll find yourself brought back to the present. This gift is only redeemable by the person to whom it's given.

Sheila looked at Lauren doubtfully, not sure what to say or do. Neither moved or looked away from each other. 'What's her name' broke the silence. She'd moved closer to Sheila looking over her shoulder to get a better look down into the open Jewel case.

"Wow, that's a pretty band. But it's not like any watch I've ever seen before. I still wonder how it got in here."

She was totally ignored. After a few seconds Sheila asked. "Would you like me to put it on for you Lauren?"

"I don't think…" Sheila turned to glare at the nurse behind her, causing the words to die on her lips.

'What's her name' closed her mouth, then looked down at Lauren disapprovingly.

Looking at the two nurses, one watching her expectantly, the other looking like she was sucking a sour lemon, Lauren nodded slowly. The words on the paper were a little confusing to her exhausted brain, but she thought she understood the jest of it. The concept of going back to another Christmas Eve of her lifetime was ludicrous of course, but it was a nice thought. Most of her Christmas Eve's had been spent alone. Since being diagnosed with inoperable cancer eleven months back, she'd been lamenting a lot of the decisions she'd made in her lifetime. Regretting the things she hadn't tried, or done. There hadn't been a single day when she'd been cognizant enough that she hadn't wished for a chance to just try again. How funny that someone would give her a gift like this. Though it couldn't be for real. No one could travel back in time.

A streak of sadness raced from her heart, into her mind as her hand was raised gently and the watch clasped to her rail thin wrist. Sheila was careful not to scratch the sensitive skin, or to make the fit to tight. Keeping the arm elevated so Lauren could see the delicate watch the face came into view, the four zeros caught her attention. She stared at them transfixed, her mind reeling back the years with a determination of it's own to bring a lump to her throat as a certain Christmas Eve reached out and grabbed her memory with a grip tight enough to strangulate her senses.

Before she'd realized she'd even spoken she rasped out, "1971".

Sheila heard the date clearly, feeling torn, and a little sorry she had encouraged this, she looked into her dying patients eyes and saw more life there then she had in days. Looking worriedly back over her shoulder to the 'I told you so' expression of the nurse behind her Sheila mentally shrugged. What else could she do?

"1971? Okay. I'll try to figure out how this thing works." Looking carefully at the watch, the only thing Sheila could see that might possibly move the zeros in the face was the stem, reasoning that if there were hands that's how they'd be set on a normal watch she pulled it out carefully to find she was right. Going from the zero on the far right, she rolled the stem and a one clicked up. Pulling out the stem a little more she moved to the next zero and turned till she got a seven, and then so on until reading from left to right was the date 1971.

Pushing the stem all the way back in she was surprised when the watch boomed out one loud toll that would have done any cathedral proud. She jumped, accidentally letting go of the frail wrist in surprise. It slipped down, causing the band of the watch to catch the side of the raised safety rail with a loud ting. White light erupted from the watch, traveled up the arm and quickly covered Lauren from head to toe; the light softened and then just seemed to melt right into her body.

Sheila couldn't believe her eyes; what in the hell had just happened? It had only taken a second or two, but she knew what she'd seen. Lauren sighed, and closed her eyes, apparently drifting back to sleep. The monitors didn't change their cadence.

"I've got rounds to make." Said the trembling voice from behind her. Turning she meant to confirm what she'd just seen with the other nurse, but 'what's her face' was already high tailing it out of the room.

Taking one last check of the slowly failing pulse, Sheila shook her head. She must be more tired then she thought, clearing up the wrapping, and sitting the jewel case on the table by the bed, she looked at Lauren sadly, she'd grown attached, and she knew better. She only hoped Lauren would make it through the night, or at least until Sheila's shift ended. She didn't want to start Christmas out by having to actually see them taking her lifeless body away.

"Lauren! Hey sleepyhead wake up!"

A hand was roughly shaking her shoulder, disoriented and a trifle miffed, damn couldn't they even let her die in peace, Lauren opened her eyes. The first thing that hit her confused brain waves, was that the incessant beeping of the heart monitor was bless-fully quiet. And where were Nurse Sheila and sourpuss? Hadn't it only been a second or two since they'd been standing by her bed. A giggling over her shoulder had Lauren looking over to see not the open spaces of her hospital room, but the back of a dark blue sofa. What the…?

Suddenly a face appeared in her line of sight, a very clear face, and not a blurred edge to be seen. It looked so familiar too. WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE? Long blond hair swung down to tickle her nose, and another giggle was followed by another friendly nudge.

"Come on! Lauren the guys are waiting for us, how could you just fall asleep like that? I send you to get our coats and you lay down for a nap."

That face, that voice, if she just closed her eyes for a second it would come to her. Then it did. She'd been thinking about past Christmas Eves, and that memory had caught her. Yes, now it began to make sense, the present, the watch, the date, then feeling a very strange lightheadedness, and then nothing but a bright glow, and a feeling of intense drowsiness. She must have gone into another sleep fugue, maybe it was finally time. Was she dying and because this is what she had been thinking about, it was going to pass before her very eyes so to speak?


The shriek made her jump. The pretty girl with the sparkling green eyes was losing her patience. God, even in her dreams Kristen was still beautiful. And young, only twenty-three, both of them had been. How could thirty years have passed so fast?

"Hey Kristy, what's taking you guys so long?" Hearing THAT voice brought Lauren to a sitting position in a hurry, she did it as a natural reflex, and only afterward, wondered at her dexterity. Standing in the doorway to the den was Boyd Clark, Kristen's boyfriend, and Lauren's passion. Of course he had no idea, but even all these years later, and in her dream no less, her breath still caught, and a lump lodged in her throat.

He was beautiful, black long hair, lean and rugged, with a devil may care smile, and the bluest eyes Lauren had ever seen. He was looking at her now in consternation.

"What's up Laur, you sick?"

Talk about real, this was just too much. Looking around, she realized she'd remembered every little detail of this room, these people; even the smells bombarded her senses. She could feel the warmth of the fire burning in the grate five feet across from her, hear the crackling of the flames, catch the sound of the wind blowing in a near blizzard outside.

She knew that they were going to try to build a snowman outside the cabin they'd rented for their Christmas vacation, remembered almost freezing to death in just a short few minutes, only to run in and head in here for the fire. Oh yes, she still remembered everything. Was this how pre-death dreams worked? She'd never had one where she could remember events before they even happened, or where smells were so genuine they permeated the senses. This was so unreal yet she knew how the evening was going to play out from the moment she got up off this sofa and grabbed her coat, till early Christmas morning when she'd cry herself to sleep.

It had been an almost magical Christmas Eve, for everyone but her. They'd trooped back in laughing at their stupidity, came back to the fire, Dennis Chandler, whom if she remembered correctly was probably right now standing by the front door waiting for them, had grabbed brandy and glasses. He had come up here with the three of them as a companion for Lauren, he was Boyd's best friend, and nice enough, to be sure, but her lovelorn heart was already occupied by someone else.

She'd tried, but drinking was never her forte. She'd only sipped at her brandy while the others had drunk glass after glass. How miserable she'd been, sitting on the outside looking in. They'd tried to include her; Kristen was always trying to break through what she called Lauren's 'Virgin Armor'. The good girl from the mid-west coming to the big bad east coast to go to college.

They'd met their freshmen year as dorm roommates, and Kristen had taken the naïve Lauren under her wing, and four years later, they were the best of friends. But to Kristen's trepidation Lauren proved to be a wet blanket, and her vow to disperse Lauren of her pesky virginity had never come to fruition. This was their graduating year, and the idea of renting a cabin up in the mountains for the Christmas break had seemed like a fun adventure.

And it had been, but it had also always been one of the biggest regrets in Lauren's life. Not the going, but the missed opportunity that her shyness, and out and out fear had cost her. As the night had worn on her friends became giddy and playful, kisses were exchanged and hands began to grope. When Dennis turned his attentions on her Lauren feigned a full bladder and made a beeline for the bathroom. She'd hid in there for what seemed like forever.

Finally realizing she couldn't stay there all night she'd quietly headed back to the den, the moans and groans alerted her but hadn't prepared her for what she encountered when she came around the corner. It was seared into her memory like a cattle brand. They were all three stark naked. Kristen was on her knees, Boyd behind her sliding his cock, which looked quite beautiful glistening with Kristen's juices, reflected by the blazing fire, into her pussy at such a leisurely pace that it was almost as if he were moving in slow motion. He'd pull almost completely out before sinking back in all the way to the hilt.

Lauren couldn't take her eyes off him. Her blood pounded, cotton filled her mouth, and her virgin cunt flooded itself with a wave of moisture. Nipples became hard painful pebbles, she forgot to breathe. In front of Kristen, his head thrown back, eyes closed, mouth open, legs spread in a wide stance stood Dennis, his jutting cock being consumed by Kristen's full lips, snaking tongue, and hot sweet suction. No one noticed her for the first thirty seconds, and then Boyd looked up and smiled at her. His blue eyes had blazed, and dared her to come partake of this fleshy feast.

Lauren froze and found she couldn't move. Pulling out of Kristen, Boyd came towards her, cock bouncing, balls swaying. At that moment Lauren wanted to just throw herself to her knees and beg to be fucked more than she'd ever wanted anything, ever. But she couldn't, no matter how much her pussy screamed inside her head for satisfaction, she just couldn't.

Boyd didn't say a word, just stood in front of her and held out a hand palm up. She looked at it, and time did a funny thing, it stood still. She could see every line, swirl, and nuance of his hand as if it were under a microscope. A little squeak managed to edge it way out of her paralyzed throat before her feet grew brains and wings taking flight. Instead of the bathroom this time she fled out the front door and was immediately swept to her knees by a huge gust of wind. Approximately six inches of snow cushioned her fall, air hurled itself at her, and tears froze on her cheeks. Still her body betrayed her. It burned, mourned in its need, but her mind and spirit wouldn't bend, her shyness wouldn't abate.

Lauren had stayed outside as long as she could bear it. But going back inside wasn't much of a relief; the minute she'd walked back in her frozen ears had picked up the sounds of Kristen's mew like screams amid harsh male grunting. Lauren went straight towards the bedroom she and Kristen shared, and spent the night gazing up at the ceiling listening to her comrades rutting like animals, as she envied them their inner freedom. Everyone slept in Christmas morning, and the event was never spoken of again. Less then half a year later they all graduated and sadly went their separate ways. But that night was an earmark to come. In the thirty years that had passed, Lauren only had one lover, and it had been a staid affair, with barely any passion, lasting only a few months. Many an eve she sat alone wondering about could have beens.

Her life was smothered in regrets, and getting cancer at the relatively young age of fifty-two had only been the icing on the cake. Over the past year Lauren had bitterly fought her battle, only now growing that inner courage at a time when it was to late to do anything with it. Death was knocking at her door, and she knew she had to answer it.


Pulled back to the present in this weird dreamland she was visiting by Boyd's exclamation, Lauren looked at the concerned expression on her two friend's faces. She wasn't sure what to say or do.

"Are you okay, are you sick?" He repeated.

"No, just a little tired I guess. I… I was just remembering something." Having to smile to herself at this bazaar situation, Lauren wondered if she could somehow wake herself out of this remembrance long enough to say goodbye to Sheila. Would pinching work? She'd read somewhere once that if you were in a nightmare, or a dream you just wanted out of, that if you pinched yourself hard, it might be enough of a signal to your brain to snap you out of it. She tried pinching her arm, but her heavy green and gold winter sweater was thick and prevented much of an effect.

Chuckling and shaking her head Lauren reached down to her left arm to push the sleeve of her sweater up; it snagged on her wristwatch before sliding over it drawing her attention to the beautiful delicate band. Lauren's breath caught. Wait a second… confusion hit her, the round watch face glared up at her; the four numbers reeled into her brain. Made her think of what was happening just before she'd been sucked into sleep.

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