Author: Steve Smith, Staff Writer

He woke from a deep sleep, the room still dark.

Had there been a noise? It was quiet now.

He reached in the darkness and lifted his phone, the display coming to life just as the alarm sounded, the unexpected noise startling him fully awake. He thumbed the display blindly to silence the alarm.

Six am.

He hated waking right before the alarm like this, it wasn’t natural. His body clock had never been so attuned, definitely not to a minute prior to his alarm.

He sat up, found his glasses, and shuffled to the bathroom before heading down to the kitchen to make coffee.

With the coffee ground, the machine filled, he started the brew and…

Something wasn’t right. He had a cartridge coffee maker, not this…

He woke, sat bolt upright in bed, sweat beading on his brow. He looked down toward the nightstand at his phone as the alarm sounded, startling him. He reached for it, desperate to silence the racket but only managed to knock it off onto the floor.

Swearing, he turned on the light and fished in the corner to find and silence the phone.

Through bleary eyes, he could make out the time. Seven am.

Sighing, he shuffled off to the bathroom, put his contacts in, and headed down to the kitchen to make coffee.

He loaded a cartridge into the machine, placed a mug underneath the dispenser, and started the brew.

He stared at his phone for some time, before opening the alarm app and resetting the wakeup to six thirty-seven.

He held the phone in his hand, the gurgling and wheezing of the coffee machine slowly overtaking his…

The alarm sounded.

He sat on the edge of the bed in the darkness, the phone in his hand, the digits crystal clear.

Six thirty-seven.

He silenced the phone, placing it gently back on the nightstand, a tear slowly sliding down his cheek.