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Rockin' the Clock - A Blinding Light #2


Flipping the page to April always seemed like a cruel joke. Every year, the zombos made sure that Zoe was reminded of her father's disappearance through a number of stupid pranks. While their howling through the corridors actually took her mind off the unfortunate anniversary, it was the day's silliness that really got to her. Up was down, left was right, fake news was real fake news. Her world had been flipped and she wanted to flip it back to the channel where her Dad existed with a goofy smile on his face. While he'd left without a trace of any replayable memory, the emotional memories and triggers were still there. Zoe had the photos to prove he'd been there, but some days they may as well have come with the frame.

Scrunching her eyes, she could puzzle bits and pieces together from photographs and home videos almost as effectively as one of those rose-tinted documentaries about some icon. She was the April Fool alright, to believe that he would somehow materialise again after all these years. Using her vivid imagination she'd concoct ways he'd reappear to keep hope and humour alive.

Ideally, it would happen on April Fool's Day to really make it a day of two halves. She conjured up images of him arriving to pick her up from school in a car filled with balloons, dressed as an over-the-top party clown - only to reveal his true identity. Or, maybe he'd get her called to the principal's office and swivel around in that old squeaky chair to give her the best news of her life.

Sitting at her desk in a stodgy chemistry class, it was this sort of daydreaming that usually got her into trouble. Her teacher's report card just said 'Flippant', the meaning of which she could have guessed. Hydrogen, periodic tables, potassium's explosive potential and health benefits when appearing in the form of banana. If explosive bananas were only a reality, they'd be perfect to celebrate the absurdity of a day dedicated to fools. "Earth to Zoe?, Earth to Zoe!"... the refrain was growing louder.

Was she really hearing this? Tucking her blue hair behind her ears, she realised everyone in her chemistry class was looking at her with dead eyes. The sound was coming from the front of the class, where her teacher stood contorted leering over his desk as if a gargoyle preparing to take leave of its stony stance.

The snarky echoes were followed up with a glare that could have turned her to stone as Mr Rex, commonly known as 'T-Rex', returned to his filibuster on the importance of keeping your work station clean or something. She'd drifted, but the lesson had taken on a different tone after a gutsy student had managed to stick a picture of a crudely drawn T-Rex to her teacher's back on the way to the bathroom. While the thought of his grand discovery and futile attempts to claw at his back to remove the offending piece of paper tickled her, it also made her think of Dad.

A few school bells and bus stops later she was back home. Twirling her hair and wishing she was in one of those Scandanavian schools that don't give kids homework, it wasn't long before she was aimlessly staring into the fridge waiting for something to jump at her. The cool air, warm light and old fridge's buzz felt like home and while she was more bored than hungry, it felt safe.

This was one of the last good fridges, one of those ones designed to last a lifetime. She felt another warm sensation, this time on her leg. "DIMPLE!" she exclaimed as if expecting him to respond in kind. He was always hungry and also had an affinity for the fridge, especially when it was open. Now, curled around one of her legs the jury was out on whether he was there as a love bug or anchor.

A few shreds of leftover chicken breast later, he was purring as if he was designed to last a lifetime. Zoe wished cats could have their thermostats replaced and simply keep on purring away indefinitely. Although, who knows what they'd ever do if they got beyond their teens? If hieroglyphics were anything to go by, they could literally be our overlords.

The crazy day had whizzed by and after basking in front of the Kelvinator for a few moments, she'd mellowed out. Sliding about in her droopy socks, she and Dimple padded over to what had been dubbed the 'library'. Packed with enough books to open a store, the room and former study had become something of a shrine to Dad. At some point green lamps had been fashionable and after a number of bulbs had blown, it had become more of a decorative element.

Before the Internet, this room was a portal to another dimension, a place of self-learning with reams of content that was good enough to waste ink on. While many of the books were now embarrassingly dated, including the A-Z of World Book encyclopedias, there were still some timeless gems. The fiery ginger cat was now perched next to the lamp, licking his chops to relive the shredded chicken.

Zoe recovered her bookmark from a worn biography of Jimi Hendrix, her father's favourite guitarist. Having inherited her Dad's CD collection, it was easy to see how he'd influenced her taste in music. Blind Faith, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles had cascaded into more contemporary rock bands like R.E.M., The Smashing Pumpkins and My Chemical Romance. Now that their albums were available and accessible simultaneously thanks to music streaming services, it was as if these musicians had just released their work, their everything.

The day's last light reminded Zoe of just how dusty the library was as she flicked up dust particles as she went from page to page. While enough to make you sneeze, it was beautiful how it caught the light as if souls were being beamed up to heaven. Rapture aside, the shaft of sunlight was bearing down on an old guitar case, which had melted into the book shelves, leaning against an ancient amplifier. Looking over to Dimple and then dropping her gaze down to a black-and-white photo of Jimi looking straight back at the photographer, it was almost like he was whispering 'go my child'. As if her luminous stars had crawled their way to her Dad's study, the glowing realisation soon dawned upon her in a moment of heroic inevitability - 'I must'.