Stephan moved the hands of the clock back. No one would notice a few minutes off. Besides, he’d move the hands ahead again later.
“Stephan, you’re late!” Mother scolded as she entered the house. “I said if you were late once more—“
“But Mom,” Stephan interrupted, “I’m not late.”
Stephan’s mother looked at the clock, and then at her watch. “Hmm, I thought it was later than that.” She tapped her watch. “Okay, you still have time to do your chores.”
Stephan grabbed his gloves and headed out the door. He found his broom in the horse barn and started sweeping.
“Well, Lightning,” he patted the horse’s head, “I have lots of time for you today.” He leaned his broom against the wall. He pulled an apple out of his pocket and gave it to her. He stroked her white coat.
Suddenly Stephan heard shouting outside. He peeked his head through the barn door.
“Stephan! Stephan, come quick!” his mother yelled from the house.
Stephan ran to her.
“I need you to watch Carl. Just keep him in his highchair. I have to drive Anna to her interview. We’re late!” Her words ended with the slam of the door as Stephan’s mother and sister Anna left the house.
Carl threw one of his toys onto the floor.
“Want to play pick-up-toys, Carl?” Stephan put the toy back on his highchair tray and Carl threw it down again. And again. Carl laughed. They played a long time.
“Carl, I’m sick of this game.”
Carl began to cry.
Stephan looked at the clock. How long did it take to have a job interview? It looked like the hands of the clock hadn’t moved at all. Then he put his hand over his mouth. “Oh no, the clock!” He tried to turn the hands ahead again, but the minute hand clicked and swung down, limp.
The door of the house opened. Mother stepped in while Anna ran past to her room. No one smiled. “Anna didn’t get the job,” Mother said. “It was because she was late.”
Stephan looked down. Carl kept crying. Stephan wanted to as well. He stood silent awhile. A tear trickled down his cheek.
“I-I’m sorry, Mom,” he stuttered. “I moved the clock back so you wouldn’t know I was late. And now Anna was late, and…the clock is broke.”
Mother took Carl out of his highchair and walked to Stephan. “I’m glad you told me, Stephan. I forgive you. But this is serious. It is a hard lesson to learn. You will have to tell Anna, too.”
Stephan nodded. Yes, he thought, this is hard. He looked at the broken clock. Time is never found again, either.
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15, 16).