The Best of Times Short Story Competition

Autumn 2014 Results

Running to Time

Copyright © Heather Mackenzie 2014

6.25 am Wake with heart pounding before clock radio alarm sounds beside bed. Am I too late? No, just in time to turn off blasted alarm. Have a deep dislike of clock alarms going off. Makes my heart pound. But fear of being late for work outweighs fear of alarm sounding. Still, inventor of clock radio should be locked overnight in the clock tower of Big Ben without ear plugs as a reward.

Grope about in depths of brain for what day it might be. Thursday? Wednesday then? No, drat, only Monday. The working week beckons its gnarly finger.

Roll out of bed onto yoga-mat sensibly placed right beside bed. Have invented Yoga-for-the-Unusually-Lazy. Nearly perfected. Presently working on slight problem of regularly falling back to sleep in most horizontal poses. Once perfected could make a fortune writing books and doing ‘Lazy Yoga’ tours around country. Give up boring office job. Appear on early morning television. Unfortunately too lazy. Also unlikely to wake up early enough to get to TV studio. Better stick to office job.

Hot shower. Very sensual but adding to general decrepitude of skin tone. Mental note to have brisk, cold shower tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

Downstairs to back garden to water plants. Never wear watch in garden – brings bad luck, woolly aphids, blossom end rot. Theories not yet proven. Very soothing watching rainbow spray of water catching the sun on the new vegetable seedlings. Might just root out those weeds at the edge of the rose bed. Is that a lemon I see hanging over the fence from next door? If I just reach far enough I can nab it. All’s fair in love and gardening.

There are no clocks in the garden. Just the sun rolling time steadily from horizon to horizon. Uh-oh. What was I doing? Bolt back upstairs pretending I don’t see next door neighbour glaring my way from her back window. Check nearest clock. Cat face with slightly evil expression, metal tail moving back and forth with each tick-tock. Present from slightly demented great-aunt with a passion for hairy mentally-challenged cats and people being on time. Hurriedly pour dry catfood out for my own perfectly intelligent moggy. Bon appétit, Mousebreath.

Have several perfectly ordinary clocks throughout house cunningly set at various times, all fast. This way can usually fool myself into rushing out on time to catch bus to work. Sometimes forget which clocks are set just a little and which are set a lot fast. Still fine-tuning my method.

Rush to put makeup on. Do this without benefit of glasses which are temporarily unlocated. I do not lose things. All things not found are simply temporarily unlocated. They still exist somewhere in time. Time has a lot to answer for.

Peer at collection of earrings. Jab one in each ear and hope for best. Have only gone to work once with mis-matched earrings. Sadly no one noticed. Age-defying face cream specially formulated to sucker thirty-something women like me clearly making more than my wrinkles invisible.

Back to kitchen. Three mouthfuls of soggy cereal. Peppermint tea. Supposed to be good for digestion. Possibly any benefits of soothing, mintily aromatic tea counteracted by standing at kitchen bench shovelling down cereal then rushing off to find glasses.

Several clocks now indicate bus for work left 10 minutes ago so logically should have 5 minutes to clean teeth and rummage through pantry to find something for lunch before bus actually due. Grab a can of tuna (or possibly catfood). Locate glasses under sofa with TV remote and Mars Bar wrapper. Put glasses on. Oops. Back to pantry. Swap catfood for tuna.

On a roll now. Grab bag and protesting Mousebreath, sprint to front door. Juggle bag and keys whilst exercising soccer footwork skills to prevent determined cat re-entering house. Shove feet into shoes left outside door when stumbling in from work/pub Friday night. Hope large hairy spider last seen leering menacingly from depths of letterbox has not developed overnight shoe fetish.

Rush to bus stop mercifully located just 30 seconds down street (if running flat out). Check watch which indicates bus and I should have arrived 5 minutes ago so probably due any tick of one of my clocks now. Whew … made it.

Do mental checks of things should have done before leaving house. Turned off stove? Iron? Nuclear Reactor? Probably. Or not. Now may be responsible for excess burning of fossil fuel and contributor to Climate Change and rising seas on remote Pacific Ocean atoll. Vision of top of palm-thatched hut sticking out of glassy green wave. Further vision of posters at local Police stations – bad photo of me with caption 'Have you seen this Eco-criminal?' Resolve to throw out all bad photographs of self.

Back to house. Check stove and iron. Of course both switched off. Now genuinely late for bus no matter which timepiece I consult. Sprint back to bus stop. Arrive virtuously out of breath. Don’t they say to break up exercise throughout day? Cross 40 metres off mental Exercise List.

Stand at stop. Bus still not here. Really can’t understand why things can’t run to time!