Breaking Routine

I’ve already broken my first list of things not to do again. Some role model. I started this blog with the intention of getting my writing out there and writing more, but I have been slacking lately (well, working two jobs and taking care of my extremely high energy dog and working out, so not exactly slacking, but putting my writing on the metaphorical back burner). Although it isn’t much, I’m posting a second-person flash fiction piece that I wrote tonight. The story is called “Breaking Routine,” which is ironic, because I am also breaking my routine of not posting on WordPress (note to self: add that to the ‘Things Not to Do’ master list). Anyway, hope you enjoy.

It’s six forty-five in the morning when your alarm clock goes off. You hit snooze through squinted eyes and lay in bed, half-asleep for five more minutes until your alarm goes off again. You debate pressing snooze again, but you know you have to get up for work, so you turn the alarm off and curse yourself for picking the most obnoxious alarm sound option possible.

You swing your legs over the side of the bed and stagger, zombie-like to the bathroom for a hot shower. The water is hot when you step in and it softens the suffering of having to wake up early and go to a job you don’t really care about anyway. You step out and the bathroom is filled with steam, but once you open the door to your bedroom, which has been arranged with the bed under the two windows on your east-facing wall and the matching walnut dresser across from the bed with your old television on top. You go to the dresser and open the drawer with your slacks in it, choose one pair, then socks, then a shirt from the closet to the right of the dresser.

Next you plod downstairs, still not fully awake, to brew coffee. Coffee always smells better in the morning, you decide as you grind the beans and place them in the black machine that takes in beans and spurts out a steaming cup of happiness. While waiting for your coffee, you head to the front steps to grab the paper. The doorknob is cold when you touch it, meaning it is cold outside. Opening the door quickly, you bend down to snatch the paper from your stoop and when you straighten yourself, you are suddenly face-to-face with a teenage boy.

Startled, the boy jumps back when you open the door and reach for your paper and when you look up you are taken aback as well. That look of fear in his eyes, that nose, that build- you recognize them all as your own, when you were just about his age and left his mother. You need not ask if he is your boy, you knew about him before you left, but you were afraid, you were still a child back then. He is almost as tall as you are, standing across the threshold in a hunter green hoodie, a black back pack on his back and  a duffle bag on the concrete stoop beside him. You wonder why he came so early, why he came at all.

“Cain,” you greet him, “I’ve waited a long time for this day. Come in.” You pick the duffle bag up and lead him inside, out of the cold, into your un-lived in living room.

“Sit down, make yourself at home,” you say and immediately regret it. “Can I get you a drink? Water? Coffee?” Do teenage boys drink coffee?

“A water would be nice, thanks.” Cain is polite, surely from his mother. That woman was a saint and you left her, left them. Funny, you thought waking up early was the worst of your problems today.

“Bathroom is down the hall there on the right,” you point down the only hallway in your apartment. “I just have to make a quick call, I’ll be right back.” You go upstairs and call out of work, say that you’re sick with a stomach virus. That always works. Before you go downstairs, you check your reflection in the mirror of your bathroom. A crisp baby blue button down and khaki slacks. You feel over-dressed, but don’t want to change now that he’s seen you. You care what he thinks, despite knowing how he must feel about you, how you sometimes feel about yourself.

“You can do this,” you assure your reflection. Then you head downstairs to meet your son.


© Katherine Thompson, 2016

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