'Eight Thirty-Eight' by Tracy Fells
6:38 am: Jackson’s eyelids twitch. Facial muscles contort, pulling back in horror. In two hour’s time his dream will come true.
6:59 am: Jackson opens his eyes. A sunbeam slips through the gap in the curtains warming the bedroom; dust particles dance in the morning’s glory.
7:00 am: Crickets chirp from the mobile on the bedside table heralding the official start of Jackson’s day.
7:07 am: The TV double-act recites road traffic statistics. Warning drivers to look out for pedestrians at two critical time-points in the day. Six twenty two in the evening is a deadly time for foot-commuters when the number of fatalities peaks… but Jackson is already stepping into the shower and doesn’t hear the second, more lethal, time of day.
7:08 am: Hot water jets over Jackson’s head and shoulders. Shampoo runs into his eyes trickling down his cheeks like frothy tears
7:21 am: Jackson checks emails one-handed while towel drying his spiky hair.
7:34 am: He pours boiling water into the travel mug, even though he knows this scolds the coffee, swallows a handful of vitamin tablets and a capsule of fish oil, resembling a prehistoric globule of tree amber.
7:58 am: The tube station is shut. Iron gates bar the entrance where a group of commuters hiss like a snake charmer’s basket.
8:24 am: Flicking onto Twitter Jackson tweets how he would have worn trainers if he’d known he was going to have walk all the bleeding way to the office!
8:28 am: The iPod’s battery dies. Without the numbing soundtrack a chorus of attention-seeking horns and the whine of brakes assault Jackson’s empty ears.
8:32 am: Jackson plugs the earphones into his phone and normality is resumed. An envelope pings onto the screen. A text from his mum. Jackson laughs. She hasn’t got the hang of predictive text.
8:36 am: If he cuts across the traffic before the lights change he can take a short-cut through the shopping arcade.
8:37 am: He steps from behind the yellow Peugeot, stagnant in the queue for the lights. The bus driver doesn’t quite see Jackson.
8:38 am: Jackson feels the sun on his face. The screeching ringtone of seagulls from his phone announces another text. The sky stretches across the city like an inviting ocean of blue.