The words fell out of his mouth as he awakened from an immediately forgotten dream. He spoke again. “What the hell does that mean?”
He rolled right and stretched his legs, turned, and set his feet on the hardwood floor. Awake felt like the end of a long race, this morning. Body and spirit, he felt drained of energy and light. A tender knot in his left calf complained as he rose from bed. He crossed the room, removed socks and underwear from a top drawer of his battle-scarred dresser, reached into the doorless and dingy closet, and pulled the light chain. Again, he muttered to himself, “Hmm. One pair of pants, two shirts. Must be laundry day”
Now showered and dressed, he was certain that he could hear Mr. Coffee in the kitchen calling his name. Still fending off a sense of impending doom, he turned that direction, grimacing as he walked. First the left calf, now the right knee, reminders of past careless moments. His mood darkened a bit more, as he briefly and unsuccessfully searched his memory banks for the last time walking didn’t hurt. “Damn.” He muttered again, “Just, damn.”
Once in the kitchen, he started coffee brewing and dropped a fruit and chemical based pastry in the ancient toaster. Apprehension again fluttered in his stomach, as he waited with butter knife in hand. He spoke aloud to the emptiness of the room.
“This time, it’s gonna be different.”
“Seriously, what does that mean?”
The toaster spring tossed the pastry out onto the counter, as it always did. He picked the pastry up and buttered it without a plate. His first bite took about a third of it, he chewed while lifting his coffee mug from the dishrack by the sink. Two more bites finished it off while he waited for Mr. Coffee to finish his job. He took two deep, ragged breaths, turned a slow circle, seeking something unknown, mindful of his mildly agitated state. He just couldn’t shake this persistent feeling of impending doom. Everything about the day felt poised for some potentially threatening event or revelation.
When coffee was finally ready, he poured, drank half of the first pour, then poured to fill the cup again. His stomach gurgled a brief protest as the first flood of hot acidity landed hard on top of the pastry. The hot and bitter brew wasn’t waking him up yet, but it had left his taste buds looking back at his throat and wondering what the hell just happened.
“What does it mean? This time it’s gonna be different?” It didn’t make any more sense now than the other times he’d heard himself say it out loud. Different than what? What’s going to be different, and why should it be different, and, well, what makes this time special enough to make it different? Further, had he meant this current next time, today, or some other, later, next time? All of these thoughts came out as a single grunt, as he pulled a stool from beneath the cluttered breakfast bar and sat. He chugged the rest of his coffee and set the mug down on the worn countertop.
He tilted his head back and closed his eyes to concentrate, hoping to remember what it all meant. After just a moment, he heard a voice, speaking from a distance, opened his eyes again, and found that he was looking at a sideways bedroom. As he processed what he was seeing, the voice came into focus. It was a radio voice. The kind of radio voice that’s far too cheerful in the morning. He sat up in bed, again, said; “What the hell?”
His feet again reached out for the floor, and he sat up on the edge of the bed.
“Dammit! A dream? It was a damn dream? I hate dreaming of dreams! Now I have to wake up all over again!”
He turned once more to retrieve socks and underwear from the dresser drawer.
“Damn! Just, damn.”
Kevin R. Carr (2022)
About 770 Words