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THE COMMUTER
Ian Bowie

Something is disturbing his sleep but he can’t quite work out what it is. He rolls over onto his back but the noise is persistent and getting louder. His wife sticks a rather bony elbow in his side a mumbles incoherently. The man opens an eye, trying to identify the source of the noise, but the darkness is total. Another elbow in the ribs, this time sharper and with more force.  
‘Turn it off, for heavens sake’  
Turn what off, he wonders and then it comes to him, the alarm of course. He sits up slightly startled, reaches out into the darkness and finds the button. Silence returns once more. It is cold in the bedroom and he shivers slightly, the central heating hasn’t switched on yet, maybe they should invest in some double-glazing after all. 

He tries to focus a bleary eye on the luminous face of the clock radio, the green display informing him it is now five thirty three, another day about to begin. He turns, placing both feet firmly on the floor; thank goodness for wall-to-wall carpets he thinks, standing up slowly and carefully feeling his way to the bedroom door. Ouch! Bloody hell, what was that? He reaches down for the sharp object that has just dug itself rather painfully into his foot, identifying it as one of their young son’s toy cars. He wishes once again that his wife were perhaps a little stricter with the children.  On finding the handle for the door he lets himself out onto the landing. He turns on the light, checking quickly that the door to the children’s room is shut. There would be hell to pay if he woke them up at this time of the morning. Going into the bathroom he pulls the cord that turns on the light and takes his first look in the mirror. The face that stares back is only barely recognisable as his own, he really shouldn’t have finished that bottle of wine last night. Still, with a breastfeeding wife unable to drink what else was a red blooded man to do? 

Some ten minutes later, washed and shaved, he stumbles downstairs, careful to avoid the creaking third stair from the top.  
‘Mustn’t wake the kids, mustn’t wake the kids’ he mutters under his breath. 

He sees his paper lodged in the letterbox of the front door and smiles, pleased he will have something to read on the train. As quietly as he can he opens the front door and picks up the two milk bottles already delivered an hour ago. A bottle in each hand and the newspaper tucked securely under his arm he goes into the kitchen. His suit is on a hanger behind the kitchen door, a freshly ironed shirt hanging from the back of one of the chairs.  He shakes some cornflakes into a bowl and boils the kettle for coffee, noting they are running low on Nescafe. He checks the time, it’s getting late, can’t afford to miss the six thirty train, so no time for toast this morning, bugger.  He puts the milk in the fridge and removes his sandwiches, good, looks like ham and egg today, his favourite. Leaving the remains of his breakfast on the table for her to clear away he reminds himself once again how wonderful it is to have a wife who doesn’t work. Putting on his jacket he takes the car keys off the hook near the toaster and, as silently as possible, lets himself out of the house. He looks across at his wife’s car before getting in his own, it looks a bit dirty, he’ll wash them both on Sunday morning, maybe after he has cut the grass.

 Within fifteen minutes of leaving home he pulls into the railway station car park. He checks the time once again, only five minutes before the train, great timing. He locks the car, takes one last look, hoping it will not have been vandalised or stolen before his return at six thirty this evening, and walks onto the station platform. He nods to one or two of the other people also waiting. Strange, in all these years they still haven’t actually spoken to each other, but then that would be a breach of the commuter code. The train pulls into the station, on time for a change. Second carriage from the back as usual, he climbs aboard and sits in one of the remaining window seats. He takes out his newspaper and looks out of the window at the slowly breaking dawn.  

An hour and a half to go he thinks to himself, oh well only another fourteen years to go before retirement. With a wry smile of resignation the commuter sits back in his seat, opens his newspaper and begins to read.  

© Ian Bowie 2001
Ian Bowie ian.bowie@pp.inet.fi

Ian earns his living from a combination of teaching English and writing. In addition to a bi-weekly newspaper column he writes content for company websites, customer newsletters and press releases. He has just finished his first book, a work of non-fiction called 'Done Deal '. It is primarily a guide to sales and business etiquette in the UK. Once illustrated I hope publish the book and also develop a couple of one and two day training seminars based on the content. I'm currently looking for a suitable illustrator I can afford.
 
He has also almost completed an action thriller based in the UK, Finland and Russia.
 
This is Ian's first piece for Hacks. He now lives and works in Finland

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