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Something You Do Every Day

9 May, 2012

Day 9 of the May Fiction Challenge.


Two weetabix. 260 millilitres of milk. The level in the milk bottle marked with the green Thursday pen. A spoon of sugar sprinkled over each weetabix. Breakfast had been perfect, no need for a re-do there.

All teeth brushed in the correct order, 20 brushes each. Clothes put on in sequence, left foot or hand first. Text book.

I enjoy the music and low emphasis on news that Radio 3 offers in the morning, but three is an odd number, so I can only listen in the afternoon. I listen instead to Radio 4 for the sixteen minutes until I leave the house, first adjusting the volume from its evening setting of 40 to the morning level of 32.

At 8.12 I open the door, placing both feet on the top step, cheating the three steps into becoming four paces, and begin my walk to the bus stop. There is nobody else there yet, so I slow my pace, allow some time for some of the other regular passengers to arrive. I see them leave their homes, approach from around the corner, and I quicken my gate. I judge the time to perfection, I am fourth in the queue, I can sit on the fourth seat in the bus shelter, the one with the six cigarette burns. Today is going to be a good day for me, all elements of the routine are synchronising.

She arrives behind me. The girl who wears the red gloves in the winter, the green coat in the spring, and now it is summer, the blue-rimmed sunglasses. We have been catching the same bus from the same bus stop for two years, eight months and nine days now, since I started working in the council offices. She is pretty, she has a cute smile, I like her white hair band, but she isn’t wearing it today. She doesn’t wear a ring on her wedding finger. Sometimes I think I should speak to her, I would like to speak to her, to say hello, complain about the weather or the bus being late, just like the other people do. She sits next to me, behind me in the queue, checks her watch. She says “hi” to me and smiles. I smile back. I see that her hair is still slightly wet. But saying hello isn’t in my routine, and I can’t stray outside the routine. I look down at my shoes. If I speak to her, who knows what could go wrong?

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