The wind howled, knocking a tree branch against the window behind the living room sofa where Debbie sat, and she jumped. A little after eight o’clock and she’d seen only a handful of trick-or-treaters, mostly children from the neighborhood.
Scott was in Chicago for a tech conference that weekend, and their twin daughters were both at their respective colleges until Thanksgiving, so Debbie was home alone that Halloween night.
A low rumble sounded, and Debbie hoped a storm wasn’t about to hit. She hated storms, and she especially hated storms in the fall and winter, when the nights were already so long and dark.
A sudden streak of lightning shone into the room, and an earth-shaking clap of thunder came a few seconds later, causing Debbie to finally close the new novel she’d been trying to read. Maybe a nice cup of tea would calm her nerves.
She turned on the light in the kitchen and immediately screamed. A small spider was hanging from the ceiling by a thread, mere inches from her face. She batted away the strand, but when she looked for the spider, it had disappeared, which made her uneasy. She knew the spider was probably harmless, but she detested insects of any kind. Where there was one, there might be another.
Debbie wished Scott was there to kill it for her. Although she hated spiders, she also hated the thought of one crawling up on her, so she refused to even get near them herself. Maybe that spider went up under the dishwasher. With any luck, it would curl up and die.
After she caught her breath, she filled her electric tea kettle and waited a few minutes for the water to boil. She knew she would be up a while thanks to the storm whirling around the house, so she went ahead and made a whole pot of Pumpkin Spice Tea. She was using the vintage teapot she’d found at an antique mall over the summer, a brown teapot shaped like a clock. It read “Tea for Two,” its hands permanently fixed in the two o’clock position.
Debbie wondered if there was something significant about the two o’clock time on that teapot clock face since, traditionally, teatime was at four p.m. Probably, it was simply a nod to the "two" in the phrase "tea for two."
That year, Halloween also happened to fall on the night that Daylight Saving Time ended for the year. As an English teacher, Debbie was somewhat obsessed about calling it, correctly, Daylight Saving Time instead of the more commonly used Daylight Savings Time. “When it goes into effect each spring, you’re not savings time, you’re saving time,” she always told her students. Of course, most high school students didn’t care at all about the time change, much less the grammar surrounding it.
After her tea steeped for four minutes, Debbie returned to the living room. By then it was after nine, so she felt safe in turning off the porch lights. Few trick-or-treaters ever came after nightfall, but none would come in a thunderstorm.
The lightning came faster, and the thunder came louder, but Debbie sipped her Pumpkin Spice Tea and tried to focus on her novel. Then, a bolt of lightning penetrated the living room sheers, bathing the room in an electric white glow.
And then … darkness.
“That’s just great,” Debbie said to the empty room. “Guess it’s time for some candles.”
She easily made her way to the kitchen, and as she reached into the drawer where she kept matches and flashlights, she remembered the spider she’d seen earlier. A chill ran down her spine, but she had no choice except to reach quickly into the drawer for the flashlight. Thank goodness it worked.
Holding the flashlight in one hand, Debbie used the other to root around in the drawer for that long-handled lighter she used to light candles. When she lighted her new cinnamon-and-apple-scented candle, she would at least have light to read by.
The thunder and lightning continued, but the intensity was waning. With the warm glow of candlelight near her seat in the living room, she managed to pull herself back into her novel. She cuddled up beneath a soft throw in a corner of the couch and decided to close her eyes for just a few minutes.
The next thing Debbie knew, she was startled awake by the sound of an electrical hum and the reappearance of light from the lamps in the room. She rubbed her eyes. The clock on the mantel read three o’clock, but since she hadn’t changed it yet, that meant it was really just two o’clock thanks to the time change.
She massaged the crick in her neck. Clearly, she needed to head down the hall and get to bed.
First, though, she carried her empty teacup into the kitchen and rinsed out the brown clock face teapot.
Only … the teapot’s hands were pointing to three o’clock, not two o’clock.
Debbie stared at the teapot.
I know that teapot read two o’clock earlier, she thought. She shook her head. Her mind was playing tricks on her, clearly.
Shaking off the strange feeling about the teapot, Debbie headed to her bedroom and dressed for bed. She would pick up Scott from the airport in just a few more hours, and she couldn’t wait. She always felt safer when he was around.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, a small black spider crawled out from his home beneath the dishwasher and slowly made his way up the counter and onto the vintage brown teapot.
He climbed onto the clock face, which was still a little slippery thanks to that soapy rinse, and heaved and panted as he pushed the hands back into the two o’clock position.
“Time change,” he said.
And with that, the spider skirted back to his hideaway beneath the dishwasher, where he would remain until spring.