Goose bumps


ocused, I sit at my dest desk at home grading midterms for my Japanese Literature course. One student writes in a very readable style, showing brilliance at times, but then stubbing his toe by writing something that is obviously and factually incorrect.

Commodore Perry did not go to Japan in 1812; more like 1850-something, I think, when suddenly I hear a sound.

Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep.

It sounds like its right in front of me but at the same time distant. The beep reminds me of an electronic alarm clock, so I pick up my desk clock and hold it to my ear. But it is not beeping. I peek under the papers on my desk and open the drawers to rifle through the debris, but I find nothing that emits this sound. Then just as suddenly as it started, it stopped.

I can’t figure it out. What did I hear? I don’t “actively” believe in ghosts or the supernatural, but things unexplained give me the heebie jeebies. I go downstairs to get another cup of joe, and nonchalantly tell M what happened. “Do you know anything that might give off that kind of sound?” I ask, but she answers, “No.” However, she does go upstairs with me, bless her heart, to see if she can’t help me figure out what’s happening. We both look through the pile of junk on my desk, underneath it, around it. Nothing. I mention that the sound could be like that of a wrist watch as well as a clock.

“Could it be this?” M asked, holding up a watch she dug out of one of her bags. She had tried to advance the clock forward one hour for daylight savings, and had tried futilely to push this button and that. As she explained this, I took the watch from her and noticed that the alarm was indeed on. I smiled, adjusted the time and turned off the alarm, all the while wondering why it is I have to always change the time for her even after I have shown her how to do it.

After M leaves, I go back to grading. Five more essays to go…


The voice was small, but resonated as if someone was yelling at the top of his lungs. I jumped back from the desk, half expecting to see a one-inch man with his hands cupped around his mouth ready to yell once more. Of course, there was no such gremlin.

Does M have a watch that shouts ‘Hello’? I wondered as I rubbed my arm to smooth out the bumps…