I can’t tell yet if I’m dreaming or just waking up. The feeling of comfortably floating is the most prominent sensory input I can process right now.
I feel the footprints of awareness pacing through my head, slow and muddled like a tortoise in quicksand now, but they’ll catch up.
They’ll catch up.
I”m still floating, but in my bed now, my big comfortable bed. I’m floating among the big fluffy comforter and the heavy feather pillows and the soft cotton sheets. I snuggle in a bit deeper and cross my fingers that I’ll simply fall back asleep so I won’t have to make any decisions today.
I open my eyes.
My dream of dreaming was not meant to come true today. It’s time to get up, get dressed, get ready. I’m not sure what I have on my schedule for today. Maybe a lot, maybe a little.
I roll out of bed.
I groan slightly with the effort; standing is a much a shock to my relaxed muscles as the blinding sunlight was to my sleep-adjusted eyes, but once I’m up, I’m up and at ’em. A few quick tosses and corner twitches, and my bed is made.
I rise on my toes.
Reaching my arms to the ceiling and rolling my shoulders provides a satisfyingly deep stretch, and I lower myself to my heels slowly. I glance left, and the key on my dresser reminds me of the mission I set for myself today. Time to get a move on.
The clock chimes seven.
I’m not sure how early the locksmith opens. I google it while brushing my teeth. He opens for business at eight. I brush a little bit slower. No point in loitering in the parking lot when I can loiter at home.
I’m out of sugar.
This does not bode well. My morning was going along swimmingly until the extremely light heft of the sugar bowl let me know that something is very wrong.
I squeeze my eyes shut.
I tip up my mug and power through the dark bitterness of black coffee. Not my favorite thing to do, but it’s nearing time to get the heck out of Dodge.
My shoes wait next to the front door.
I jingle my keys in my fingers as I slip into ballet flats for the short trip to town. I trot down the front porch steps and hop in my car, and try to crank it.
I try to crank it.
But the damn thing’s dead. Too bad I couldn’t get back to sleep this morning. I guess I’ll get a spare key made tomorrow. Or the next day.
Cubing the Stories at TBP
See, I told you those ‘rules’ were optional. Rules schmules.
Stefan plodded on, his pack weighing heavy on his back. The mornings on the trail were the worst for him; the longer he walked, the better he felt, other than sore feet. By the end of the day, he was joyful as he set up his tent and cooked his final meal of the day.
But today felt different.
A strange sound woke him early, a strange sound that had yet to repeat itself. In that place between wakefulness and sleep, Stefan was unable to identify the sound, and it gnawed at the back of his mind.
He came upon a footprint on the trail: a bare human footprint, pointing sideways, as though the owner of the foot had raced across the trail, rather than along it. Stefan stopped, and squatted to study the print.
Fresh, because the dry dust hadn’t crumbled in on itself, or been blown away. Light, because it was quite shallow in the fine dirt. And odd–were those claw marks at the tips of the toes?
Stefan stood up and tried to peer into the woods where whoever had gone. He stared, and just as he was about to give up, a sudden movement.
“Hello?” he called.
He took that fateful step off the trail. Stefan knew better, truly he did, but he told himself that he wouldn’t go far, that he wouldn’t lose sight of the trail.
In less than a minute, he broke that promise.
Something metallic glinted in a stray shaft of sunlight, and Stefan bent to investigate. It was a key, a shiny gold skeleton key. He picked it up, as unable to resist its brightness as a crow. The key was smooth and warm, almost feeling liquid in his hand.
He looked up and realized he had no idea where he was in relation to the trail, but the wonder of the golden key helped the briefest twinge of worry fade away into nothing.
He began walking in the direction he was facing, neither knowing nor caring if it was toward the trail.
Far behind him, and off to his left, his cell phone vibrated in the dirt of the trail, erasing the footprint as it danced along the ground.