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Empty Glasses

He watched, helpless, as the door closed behind her. Sitting in the stillness left by her departure, he heard the second hand clicking around the face of the cuckoo clock. His grandmother's clock mounted over the fireplace. She gave it to him weeks before she died, knowing he had always admired it. His parents had brought back the nature-themed Black Forest clock from their honeymoon in Germany. It was nearly 100 years old, and the design was dominated by intricate twin carvings of evergreen trees that formed a canopy over the face of the clock. On the base, grizzly bears were locked in an eternal rivalry, each one snarling a challenge to his opponent, bearing his teeth in a show of dominance and power. On the half hour, the cuckoo sounded and a spotted woodpecker leaned out and clacked its beak with authority. On the hour, the clock also played Edelweiss.

The clock was a showpiece in his apartment, a common-ground conversation starter that had saved him from many an awkward soci…

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