10/14/10: Way to shame me into updating again by commenting, people who comment! (Seriously, though, hi, welcome, and pull up one of the splintery old orange crates that we use for seating 'round these parts seein' as we can't afford no fancy chairs.)

The rules from
here still apply.

Monday, October 30, 2006

One Hour

His internal clock woke him, as usual, after eight and a half hours; it was never off more than ten minutes, one way or the other. Decades of work at the same nine-to-five had trained him that way. On top of his eleven PM bedtime, it didn't tend to leave him that much time to get ready before starting his commute. Once a year it was even insufficient to get him to work on time, and he had to either schedule a rare day off to save himself the trouble, or set his alarm.

Of course, by the same token, once a year it left him with an extra hour to savor, all his own.

He stepped out onto the porch with his coffee. It was cold, of course, late October was always a cold time of year, but he was bundled up in a warm sweater, even if his feet were still clad only in slippers. He also, of course, had his coffee. A miniature heater in an old chipped mug.

Leaning on the porch rail, he sipped slowly at the coffee, his eyes moving slowly around the neighborhood. Most of the fall colors were starting to fade from the city's trees by now, but for some reason his block always seemed to stay bright just a little longer. The Hendersons' oaks flamed crimson red; the birches and maples and ash trees next door blazed a dozen colors from achingly vibrant gold to nearly purple. His own lawn was smooth grass, treeless. He found that most of the year, a tree was too much work to maintain, to clean up after and kept trimmed away from eaves and powerlines. And when fall came, the neighbors provided more than enough foliage to dazzle his eyes. The commute all the way into the city was worth it, just to be able to have this all around him for a few weeks out of the year. Glorious.

Eventually his coffee was finished, and his precious free hour nearly up. He stretched and yawned momentarily, then took one last look around the neighborhood. Soon enough the trees would be skeletal and bare, of course, all their leaves shed, all semblance of life gone. Then would come another spring, and summer, and not nearly soon enough, another fall. The same old cycle that had gone on since long before he had ever been born, and would continue to go on long after he died, but -- for now -- belonged, just the tiniest bit, to him.

"See you next year," he murmured, smiling a little.

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