“Goddamn that clock,” he says to himself,

seeing 8:53 and he has to be on the road to work by, latest, 9:15.  Why couldn’t he have a weekend off?  Just one?  What a concept.  Things would change, he told himself, this morning, the day before his birthday.  Okay, he thought, “What would change?” When he woke up, for one.  If he woke at 4 this morning like he’d always said he would, he’d have who-knows-how-much done.  Organizing office, drawing a little in the sketch pad, finally finishing that colored pencil piece of the Bodega Bay view.  But no.  He slept too late.  Till 6.  Then the kids woke.  Then the chores poured on him like an unwarned storm.  Tomorrow would be it.  That’d be his gift to himself.  An earlier than early rise, and a new pattern, a new life, one with which he’d agree.  One from which he could better see.

8:56—  “So what,” he said.  “I’m always on time, and if I’m late I’m late, they’ll survive.” He brewed himself another cup and enjoyed what time he had.  But then an alarm, the one he forgot he set from two days ago to go off everyday right before 9, the one that told him to get in the shower, get ready for work, another day at work…..  another day at work.  He hated that alarm, that particular one, the one telling him to do something so he could rush to another location where he was told to do many things.  “This is over.  Happy birthday.”