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I wake up slowly. There is bright sunlight streaming through the atrium door in our bedroom. My wife is beside me, still dead to the world. I have overslept.

There is a small mound on the floor beside me. A small mound that moves ever so slightly. Rising and falling rhythmically. The small mound is a small boy. The small boy is my son.

There has been another nightmare. A nightmare that has driven a small, frightened child into his parents’ bedroom, dragging his blanket and pillow, to sleep on the floor. How thoughtful that he came in quietly so he did not wake us up. How thoughtful and how sad.

I step over him on the way to the bathroom. I hesitate and turn around to lift him up into bed with his mother. He is warm, in his little nest on the floor in the morning sun. He stirs a bit as I lay him on the bed, unconsciously adjusting to the feel of new surroundings. But he doesn’t wake up.

As I shave, I think about the nightmares. My wife is certain a pet would solve the problem. A dog or cat to provide security and companionship. I have resisted this idea since it first came up several months ago. Pets are messy. Pets are expensive. Pets need lots of care. But sometimes, perhaps, pets are necessary.

My son and his mother are ecstatic at dinner that evening when I announce my change of heart. My son is given the choice of dog or cat, and without hesitation chooses a puppy. A trip to the animal shelter is scheduled for the weekend. However, the excitement can’t be contained, and we end up making a trip after dinner to buy a dozen pet care products, most of which are probably unnecessary.

Another morning. I wake up slowly. There is bright sunlight streaming through the atrium door in our bedroom. There is a small mound on the floor beside me. The small mound is a small boy. And an even smaller puppy.

PC:  Artem Sapegin on Puppy-And-Boy Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

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Trouble With Keys

Andrew searched again through his computer bag for his keys, just two simple keys on a ring with no chain. Perhaps he’d just missed them the first four times he’d looked. Perhaps they were nestled there in some forgotten pocket, or they’d slipped inside a folder or book. Perhaps….

Andrew put his computer bag aside, sighed mentally and began the task of retracing his steps. When was the last time he’d seen them? When was the last time he’d used them?

That morning had been such a blur. A work assignment with a short fuse had been sent his way early. He read the email first thing upon awakening and hurried to dress and head to a cafe where the WIFI speeds were better and he could work in solitude, away from his too loud apartment building. Away from the sounds of construction in the apartment upstairs, the street noises from the front windows, the sounds of cooks, waiters and patrons in the restaurant below. Away from his too chatty roommate, who was still asleep when Andrew walked out the door. No, he was certain he hadn’t used his key that morning – he didn’t generally lock the apartment door when his roommate was home.

The night before then. More blur. Happy hour, followed by dinner. Visits to several clubs with a group of friends. Many, many drinks. A taxi ride home. But his roommate had been in the group and, Andrew was sure, had unlocked the door when they arrived home. Well, almost sure.

Losing the key to his apartment wasn’t a big problem for Andrew. His roommate had a key. His girlfriend had a key. His roommate’s boyfriend had a key. The building super had a key. Any of those people could let him back into his apartment. And a few euros were all it would take to replace his own key. Assuming he ever needed to get into his apartment again, which was unlikely.

No, the problem was with the other key. The second key on the ring. A key that couldn’t be replaced. A key with no duplicates. A very important key. It was this key Andrew needed. And he needed it now, or some very significant plans would need to be changed.

This important key was the key to a locker at the train station. A locker that contained a variety of items Andrew had planned to use two hours from now. Items that could be combined to create an instrument of destruction, the use of which would be the first step in the creation of a new political order. Andrew had been honored to be chosen by the collective to initiate this first step. Andrew would now fail. He assumed his failure would result in his termination by the collective, as was deserved. But that wasn’t important to Andrew. What was important was that the new order, carefully planned for many years, would be delayed. Delayed for months, possibly years.

Finally, Andrew gave up. He gave up searching for those two simple keys on a ring with no chain. Those two simple keys that, at this very moment, were lying under the loose fold of a canvas pocket in his computer bag.

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A Friendly Ear

Emily sat down at the counter in the small café and ordered a Greek coffee. It was a glorious sunny morning on Santorini, but Emily was feeling a little down.

The girl behind the counter listened intently to Emily chattering away while preparing her order. She heard about Emily’s awful ex-boyfriend, who’d cheated on her. About their dramatic breakup – it had been painful, but had left Emily free to travel. About Emily’s exciting summer plans in the Greek Islands.

Emily felt much better after unburdening herself to this nice girl. This nice Greek girl who understood almost no English at all.


Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

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Colton woke up on January 1st with a slight hangover, but didn’t feel too bad, all things considered. Not bad at all.

It was a new day, and a new year. Colton had resolved to start fresh. The drinking – done. The fights with Amy – finished. The late nights – over. He knew he’d gotten out of control during the past year. And things were going to change, starting today. Amy had been really excited when he’d told her about his resolutions.

Amy was already up making coffee when Colton made it downstairs. He poured himself a cup. It tasted bitter. Colton was lactose intolerant, so milk wasn’t an option. Neither was sugar – Colton liked to think of himself as a health buff, and that stuff was just poison.

Colton looked at his phone. It WAS after noon. There WAS half a bottle of Irish Whiskey in the cupboard over the refrigerator. And the coffee WAS very bitter – undrinkable, really. It wasn’t like a shot of whiskey in your coffee counted as drinking, if it were only to take the edge off the bitterness.

Colton waited until Amy left the room before adding some whiskey to his cup, and he returned the bottle to the cupboard before she got back. It really did the trick. His coffee tasted great – hardly bitter at all with the whiskey in it. So great Colton drank four or five cups.

Before Colton knew it, some friends arrived to watch the game. The friends brought refreshments – an assortment of new local craft beers, most of which Colton hadn’t tried before. Colton thought he’d try a taste of a few of them, that certainly couldn’t be considered drinking if he only tasted. It was all above board, like going to a wine tasting, right? Colton tasted several, several times.

By eleven their friends had cleared out, and Colton and Amy were alone. He snuck up behind her and nuzzled her neck. A little romance on New Year’s Day was a good way to start off the new year. At least, Colton thought it would be. But Amy stiffened when he touched her. She said something about being tired. Colton put his arms around her, hugged her tightly and ground himself against her anyway. She only needed a bit of foreplay to get in the mood.

When Amy struggled against his embrace and moved away, Colton grabbed her arm and jerked it, just to pull her back to him. A tiny jerk, but of course Amy overreacted and let out a yelp, like it really hurt. He tried to diffuse the situation by hugging her again, but then Amy pushed him away with her hands on his chest. So, Colton pushed back in the same manner, slightly harder than she had. But only slightly. Again, Amy overreacted and started crying.

Colton stormed out of the house toward Sullivan’s Pub. He thought Sullivan’s would be open until at least two, and then he could hit an after-hours place if he still felt like it. There was no reasoning with Amy when she got like this. She was really acting badly. And after he’d made all those resolutions, just for her.

Colton nodded at the bartender at Sullivan’s and ordered a beer. It was after midnight, so technically he’d made it through one whole day without drinking. He hadn’t even raised his voice at Amy, so they hadn’t had an actual fight. And he decided he’d skip the after-hours place, so he’d be home by a few minutes after two. No more late nights for him. Check, check and check – all three resolutions in the bag.

Colton didn’t think that was too bad for his first day, all things considered.

Photo Credit: Juniper Photon on Beautiful Free Images | Unsplash



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