- Reading time: three minutes
- Word count: 555
- Published: 7 oct 2013
- Author: Matador the First
- Copyright: Matador the First, 2013
Tobias Milne runs his alarm every day of the week, even though he never works weekends. At five every morning his clock EGHH-EGHH-EGHHs its way, spearlike, through his wooden eardrums and deep into the grey and pink. His eyes pop open and he hits the snooze button twice to get an extra eighteen minutes of restless interrupted sleep. He slides his feet over to the right side of the bed as he sits up. He stares at the wall next to his bed for three minutes before standing up. Every day he wants to fall back asleep. Every day his eyes close after about two minutes staring. Every day his eyes pop open after being shut fifty seconds and as he waits ten seconds more he thinks Get up get up you lazy sonofabitch get up before he steps onto the carpet.
Tobias Milne looks back to where Darlene used to sleep and coughs. He walks to the kitchen. He puts chickory grounds in a filter in the coffeepot and gets it brewing and walks back to his bedroom to shower. He grabs a towel and washcloth and his clothes for the day and steps into his bathroom. He drops the towels on the counter and hangs the clothes on the rack on the wall before dropping trou and shirt. He is too ashamed (he tells himself he’s not sure why) to be naked in his own bedroom. He runs the water in the shower till it’s warm. Then he steps in.
Tobias Milne steps out exactly three minutes and thirty-seven seconds later—always three minutes thirty-seven seconds—dries off in thirty, dresses in sixty, and makes it to the kitchen just in time to taste the chickory right after it’s burned, too hot now to drink without scalding his tongue. He fills a mug and mixes in no fixins and sucks it down in three minutes and seventeen seconds. He fills the mug with water and puts it in the sink to sit till the evening when he’ll drink the chickory that, by then, he’ll have left in the carafe all day, which chickory he’ll reheat in which mug in the microwave.
Tobias Milne turns off the coffeepot and walks out into his driveway. He picks up the newspaper, which is always tossed over by his neighbor, and puts it on the table in his foyer. He’ll read it in the evening as he drinks his microwaved chickory. He thanks God his neighbor hates reading the paper but subscribes anyway to support a local business and donates the papers to him, which arrangement he actually has with his neighbor’s son. Whether the neighbor’s son has told the neighbor does not concern Tobias Milne.
Because not one other person who’s a part of it, the morning is his favorite part of the day—unless the day before, too big for its evening and night to relieve, spills over. It is on those days Tobias Milne trips on into his own head and can’t hack his way back out through the brush that starts and never stops springing up around him.
Those days happen especially often. But today the forest is clean. In the evening, over reheated burnt chickory and his honest-gotten paper, he’ll compare this morning’s times to yesterday’s. He never thinks of anything else.
“Who Gives a Damn About Tobias Milne’s Daily Routine” is the first of five stories I'll be posting this week. Starting on 7 October and ending on 11 October, I’ve dubbed them the 7–11 Stories.