The Big Night by Mike Murphy

The crickets in the backyard were chirping loudly as Clark spotted Billy approaching. His right hand full with a pair of flashlights, he waved at his best friend with his left. The two of them sat down on the grass. Both ten-year-olds looked up at the stars, excited. Clark handed Billy one of the torches.

“I bet there will be lights in the sky!” his friend said enthusiastically.

“You think so?”

“Sure,” Billy went on. “This is a big thing.”

“It must be,” Clark agreed. “It’s listed on calendars.”

Billy was confused. “What does that mean?”

Clark explained his theory. “Only important stuff gets listed on calendars – presidents’ birthdays, Christmas, and things. This wouldn’t be mentioned on calendars if it wasn’t important.”

“I guess you’re right,” Billy concurred.

“Did your parents see you leave the house?” Clark asked.

“No. They were sound asleep. Yours?”

“Nah. I’m too smart for that.”

Billy looked up at the window of Clark’s parents’ bedroom. “They won’t wake up and catch us, will they?” he wondered, trying not to sound even a little nervous.

“Not a chance,” Clark answered. “My dad snores like a buzz saw, and Mom can sleep through anything.”

Billy twisted his body around on the grass a few times, looking about. “Why do you think nobody else is outside to see this happen?” he asked.

Clark responded, “I don’t know. Maybe they couldn’t stay awake? It is kind of late.”

“Good point,” Billy added, looking at his watch. “It’s almost time!”

“Oh boy!” Clark chirped. “This is gonna be better than the movies!”

Billy quietly counted down the seconds, as if counting them loudly might ruin things. It wasn’t easy to be quiet at a time like this! “Three. . . two. . . one. . . zero.”


Things always happened at “zero.” The two boys looked around the yard at the sameness. “Are you sure your watch is right?” Clark asked after about a minute.

“Of course it is! I called the correct time number.” He had a brief spell of doubt. “What

. . . What does yours say?”

“About a minute and a half after two,” Clark replied.

“Then why is there. . . nothing?”

Clark was at a loss. “Darned if I know. Everyone said this is when it would all happen.”

“Did they mean Eastern Time?” Billy asked, hopeful he had just solved the mystery.

“Of course they did! We’re in Eastern Time.”

“Then what’s going on?”

Clark sighed. “Can people just do this?” he inquired, scratching his head.

“Change the clocks?”


“No,” Billy responded. “That’s big league stuff – stuff for God. You can’t just change the time and have everyone agree with you.”

Clark looked around again. “Maybe you. . . can,” he said.

Billy had to agree. “That would explain why no one else is outside. Everything’s supposed to straighten out at 2:00 a.m.”

“What a bummer! I was expecting all kinds of cool stuff.”

“Me too,” Billy replied, sighing and then rising. “Well,” he went on, brushing some grass clippings from his pants, “I’d better get home.” Disappointed, Clark stood as well. Billy chuckled and said, “I’m gonna be pretty tired in church.”

“I hope Monsignor Stephens isn’t doing the mass.”

“He goes on forever!”

Clark looked around the yard one last time and then up at the twinkling stars. “I guess you can just change the clocks,” he said.

“It must be a grown-up thing.”

“Probably,” Clark agreed.

“You know,” Billy went on, handing Clark back the flashlight, “My dad said that this time change thing happens twice a year.”

“Really?” Clark eagerly added.

“Yeah. In about six months, it will happen again – in reverse.”

“Maybe that’s when the cool stuff will come,” Clark said hopefully.

“Maybe,” Billy replied hopefully.

“Wanna try this again next time?”

“You bet I do!”

# # #

Mike Murphy. Read more of his work here:

Photo credit: Terri Malone


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