5:30

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


What if the time on the clock was a person? And what if that Time needed someone to talk to?

Submitted: February 10, 2018

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Submitted: February 10, 2018

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Searing hot water washes over my body. The steam building in the tiny room encases me in more warmth. Waking up this morning was similar to sitting down to finally do your bills or your taxes. Leaving the cozy den of blankets on my bed was anything, but pleasant.

In the shower now, I shift slightly so the water has a chance to scald every inch of my skin. I find it entertaining to see the difference between how well a hot shower would be at waking one up versus a cold shower. But let’s be serious, no one willingly chooses to take a cold shower, lest they need to cool down.

Once a baked lobster, I leave the shower and manage to find my towel through the slivers of my eyes. For a few minutes I just stand in the middle of my bathroom, watching the steam dissipate. My tiny bathroom is revealed and immediately my eyes flicker to the spot on the wall where my hand print can be seen on the paint. I told myself I would never see it and it would be fine, but it’s the first thing I see every morning after my shower. I turn to the mirror and wipe the surface clear so I can take a good look at myself. Yup, that’s me. Bags under my eyes, my ratty black hair, and all those other imperfections we repeat to ourselves every day.

Uncaring, I pick up and dress in a simple grey pantsuit that I think I tossed on the floor a couple days ago.

I hear the beep of my coffee machine and move into the hallway. I pass a couple of family photos. Two photos are of my parents and I posing together and one where it’s just my parents smiling. I kiss my finger and press it to the glass and keep walking.

I turn my eyes to look towards my living room/work office. I see a man of tall stature sitting on my couch. He watches me move from the hallway to my kitchen with wide expectant eyes. I ignore him and head straight for the only reason I really get up in the morning. Coffee is the best part about waking up. I’m sad, I know. But I usually fall asleep at night with dreams of what my coffee will taste like the next morning.

I prepare the mug like a ceremony. A small pinch of sugar, the real kind, none of that fake sugar. A small touch of cream, today’s flavor is peppermint. I stocked up after the Christmas season was over. I’m on my second bottle, which is pretty good for me, since its five months later.

I leave the kitchen with steaming mug in hand and move around the couch the man sits on to a smaller armchair across from him.

As I sit down, I hold up my finger to silence the man who has taken a large breath. I keep my finger up, taking a gulp of my coffee. The nutty, minty flavor passes over my tongue and down my throat. I sit a moment, waiting for the caffeine to take effect.

Gradually, I feel gears start moving and engines beginning to run. My brain peeks an eye open and tries to roll over in bed to go back to sleep, but reluctantly sits up to help me get to work.

The man still watches me, waiting patiently. I take another sip of coffee, watching him in return. He’s a very lean and lanky man. His head is long length wise and squished width wise like a curved rectangle.  He has large round brown eyes, an average triangle nose and a small thin mouth that now sits in a ‘O’ shape.

Putting down my mug on the coffee table between us, I lean back and finally smile at the man. Clearing my throat, I finally speak, “Good morning Mr. Five-Thirty. How are you feeling today?”

The man leans forward, wiping his hands on his legs, “I’m – I don’t – I guess I’m not feeling too well today Mrs. Morrow.”

Nodding, I reach for my pen and clipboard next to my coffee mug, resting both on my knee. For good measure I grab my mug again, gesturing for him to continue, “What’s bothering you today, Mr. Five-Thirty?”

The man continues to wipe his hands on his legs, “Please call me, Tommy, Mrs. Morrow.”

I smile over the rim of my mug, “Well, Tommy, please call me, Suzette.”

Tommy nods, his hands now still. He looks down at the coffee table like he’s thinking.

Another sip. I’m gonna need a refill in a minute.

Tommy looks up at me and just spills his guts. “Suzette, today I woke up to realize that I don’t like being me. I don’t like being the Time that everyone hates and takes for granted. People, when they wake up at 5:30 AM, are not happy. They don’t look at me and smile. They see me and they groan or glare. And it’s not nice, Suzette. It’s not a nice feeling. I try so hard to make people happy. I try to have breakfast ready and coffee. Or juice or milk if that’s what they prefer –”

Tommy’s words fade into tears. His head drops to his hands, shoulders shaking.

Putting down my mug, I reach for the box of tissues and lean further to hand them to Tommy. “There, there, Tommy. I can assure you, that people don’t actually hate you. They hate the act of getting up so early in the morning. You just happen to get the brunt of everyone’s anger because you are the first Time they see on their clock.”

Tommy heaves a sigh, still crying and grabs the box of tissues. “Well, I still don’t like it. Even if they’re not mad at me, they shouldn’t take their anger out on me. It’s hurtful and unfair and I feel used.”

I nod understandingly, reaching for my mug again, but it feels too light. Peeking into it, I realize it’s empty.

Tommy blows his nose like a party horn. He looks at me with sad eyes, tears still filling up to the brim.

Setting down the mug again, a little disappointed, I focus my attention on my client. “Well Tommy, I know it’s not fair, but you have to see the bright side to this.”

He sniffles, “What bright side? Not even you look happy to see me and you’re supposed to be the Time’s therapist. You were specifically trained for this and you still can’t talk to me without having the coffee I made for you.”

My eyes widen, “You made my coffee?”

“Yeah.”

I look at my empty mug, cheeks burning. Okay, he caught me. I’m not really happy that he called me this morning to ask for an appointment. Mr. Five-Thirty, made his appointment at 5:30 AM, probably to make a point about how much many individuals don’t like getting up before Nine AM.

I let out a sigh, “Look Tommy, you’re right. I made a promise not to lie to you, or the other Times. What you need to understand is that we are all people first and our Time’s second. A lot of individuals are not exactly morning people. But, what you are forgetting is that morning people do exist. There are those who are happy to see the Times before Eight AM.”

Tommy and I lock eyes and I give him a reassuring smile. I shuffle through some papers I have clipped on my clipboard. “In fact Tommy, there are support groups that are forming, targeted towards morning people, and Early Bird Times, their name, kind of cute. But the intent is to get Times, such as yourself, together with individuals who are happy, no, delighted to see you each morning. Build up that support system. I’ve handed out this information to Ms. Four, and your counterpart, Dr. Five.”

Tommy takes the packet and flyer I have outstretched. He looks over the information and seems pensive. For a moment I think I have reached a break through with Tommy. I feel so giddy that I move to stand up to refill my coffee.

But Tommy looks up mid flip, and holds my gaze with a hard look and I freeze. “Mrs. Morrow, are you saying that the people who are happy to see me are rare?”

Uh-oh. No, Tommy. Stop. Don’t do this. I slowly sink back down into my chair.

Tommy’s eyes fill with tears again. He tries his best to hold it together. Thinking he can hold himself together, I reverse my direction, reaching for my mug. But I’m wrong. Reaching for my mug triggers the water works button and Tommy begins to wail. Tears fly off him like a cartoon or a sprinkler. Defeated, I slump back into my chair and cross my arms. ‘It will be fun’ they said, ‘It’s incredibly rewarding to be chosen for this field!’, ‘You’ll get the hang of it!’. All lies. Week one, and I’ve already sent Mrs. Two-Thirty to the dentist, the Seven’s and Eight’s twins into couples counseling, pending divorce, and now Tommy. This is gonna be a long day. I hope Mrs. Six O’ Clock can wait to talk about people’s hate for her and the morning traffic until later on in the day.


© Copyright 2020 Snowflower. All rights reserved.

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