Routine

Routine.png
Artwork by Joshua Insole

 

Daisy wakes me up each day with a kiss. I always sleep longer than her, so she’s always the one to wake me up. I sometimes wonder how long she’s been up before she decides to rouse me – minutes, hours? Does she get up to see the morning sun rising? She doesn’t seem to mind, though; she’s all smiles when I open my eyes.

She waits patiently as I put on my slippers and throw on my dressing gown. Daisy never hurries me – even though I’m usually bleary-eyed and clumsy, fumbling my way through the actions. Once we’re both up, we head down to the kitchen together, our footsteps padding against the carpeted stairs in unison.

In the kitchen, my first port of call is the kettle. I’ve heard that there are some people who start the day with a beverage that is neither warm nor caffeinated, and I’ve made it my life’s rule to avoid such people at all costs. I don’t trust someone who can be chatty and loud first thing in the morning – especially before that first mug of coffee.

Well, that’s not completely true. Daisy’s a morning person, through and through, and I trust her with my life. I can feel the excitement emanating from her as we sit at the kitchen table, bubbling away inside her, like bubbles in a carbonated drink. She doesn’t even need caffeine – nothing but crystal-clear water, for her, even first thing. No wonder her hair’s luxurious. But she knows that I need time to adjust to the land of the living, having been so rudely ripped from the pillowy panoramas of dreamland. She’s never complained about me not being a morning person, and for that I’ll always love her. She accepts me just as I am. The least I can do is return the favour. Daisy’s the exception to the rule.

So, anyway, after the kettle’s boiled and the coffee’s brewing (inhale deeply as the sunlight falls across your closed eyes), I go about getting breakfast ready. It’s become an unspoken rule in this household that I’m the one who’s responsible for all culinary duties. I don’t mind at all; in fact, I’ve really come to love the routine. I suspect that Daisy would like it if the routine started just a little bit earlier – her growling tummy could wake the neighbours – but she’s never been grumpy or irritable about waiting. Her positive energy is inextinguishable.

Once I’ve plated up our food, we sit at the kitchen table and enjoy our breakfast in silence, me sipping at my coffee, Daisy supping at her cool water like there’s no tomorrow, each noisily shovelling down the delicious (if I do say so myself!) morsels. Daisy and I don’t need an exchange of words to fill the hush; we’re content to simply be in each other’s presence, as we sit and get mentally prepared for the day ahead. We gaze into each other’s eyes and grin – a mutual understanding passing between us without need for talking.

After I’ve cleaned up the dishes from breakfast, I like to have a shower. I don’t know why, but I need to shower every day, even if I’m already clean. Something about it properly wakes me up, and I can’t start the day without a good scrub. Daisy thinks I’m crazy for showering every day; her blonde locks are gorgeous and washing more often than she does would strip her hair of its pretty sheen.

Once I’ve had my shower, Daisy and I head out for a little walk. I never used to go out for just a walk – I didn’t see the point. But, at Daisy’s insistence, it’s become something that I’ve done more and more. She’s very active, and her energy has rubbed off on me. I’ve really started to love our morning walks together. The gentle breeze that rustles the tree leaves. The soporific sunshine that warms the skin. The companionable silence between two good friends.

Unfortunately, after our morning stroll, I have to go to work. Adulthood, right? Sometimes it can be a slog, but we do what we have to do to make ends meet. I don’t hate my job, but I don’t love it either. I know there are many people who think that your job is the most important thing in your life, but I think people are so much more than their work. Who cares if someone works in a bank or serves people coffee? Who cares if someone makes over a hundred grand a year or minimum wage, providing that they have enough to live? (Don’t get me started on the necessity for all jobs to pay a living wage.) All that matters to me is if someone is kind, if someone is warm, if someone is welcoming and friendly. And – for the record – Daisy is the kindest, warmest, friendliest, most welcoming soul I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Daisy hangs around the house all day, lazing about. She either lounges on the sofa or relaxes in the garden, basking in the sunshine and smelling the pretty aroma from the variety of flowers that grow there. I think the daisies are her favourite – and not just because they’re her namesake. I don’t mind at all, and she seems happy enough. If me working means that she can have a comfortable life, then that means it’s all worth it, just to see her smile. I don’t think she needs to do much to be satisfied, and I’m in awe of that. Daisy seems to take enjoyment from sheer existence, loving each moment just for the fact that it’s here. I’m sure there’s a wealth of knowledge that she could pass on to the Buddhist monks in Tibet about meditation and life fulfilment.

The worst part about going to work, by a country mile, is having to leave Daisy for several hours. I hate it, and she hates it. A fact that she makes all too clear to me, every time I’m about to step out that front door. She comes and gives me a hug and a kiss – kind acts of affection that make leaving all that much more difficult.

And then it’s off to work for the day. I won’t bore you with the details of my professional life, just know that I leave the house every morning, and return later that day. I don’t earn a fantastic amount, but I think I’ve already made it clear, that – as long as I’ve got enough to pay my bills, buy food, and so on – money isn’t everything.

Daisy’s always there, waiting, when I come home after a long day. Or a short day. A tough day. Or an easy day. It’s all the same to her, as long as I come back to her at the end of it. And seeing her smiling face, her loving eyes… Well, it makes the baggage of the day simply fall away as I cross the threshold back into the home we share.

Before I’ve even managed to change into my jeans and t-shirt, Daisy is always trying to drag me outside. Even if I’m exhausted from the day, I always give in. Who could say no to her? Her twinkling eyes? Her constant grin? I know I couldn’t, and I’m not sure I’d like to spend much time around anyone who could. Besides, even if I am absolutely dog-tired, I’m always glad to have gotten out the house and have gotten some exercise. Fresh air does wonders for blowing the cobwebs in your mind away. I know that having had a stroll before unwinding at the end of the day makes relaxing that bit easier.

And speaking of unwinding, when Daisy and I get back in after our late afternoon walks, as the fat old sun is lethargically dropping below the horizon, burning the sky all shades of pinks and oranges, our first mission is to make a nice cup of tea. With a fresh mug gently steaming, I get our food ready for the evening.

Our evening meals together are very much a mirror image of the breakfast meal we share; Daisy and I sit at the kitchen table, enjoying our food in a companionable hush, as the setting sun stains the room several hazy hues of reds and purples. After we’ve noisily (and messily) finished our meals, I clean up before we head to the lounge for a cuddle on the sofa.

Daisy doesn’t really mind what we watch on television of an evening and, if I’m being honest, neither do I. I like comedies and upbeat programmes – the ones that make you laugh, the ones that make you smile. I think Daisy just likes whatever I like. She’s very easy going, as far as entertainment goes. And as far as life goes, for that matter.

When either one of us starts yawning (they say its contagious), I switch the T.V. off and we head upstairs to bed, feet softly padding against the carpeted stairs in unison.

I brush my teeth, tell Daisy I love her, then turn off the light, drifting off to sleep easily in my tranquillity. I used to have insomnia, but Daisy turned out to be the cure. I’m not sure if it’s the general improved happiness or increased exercise that’s done the trick. Perhaps it’s the genuine affection from another living being – pure, unconditional love. That might have been the ticket.

Sun rise, sun set. Life with Daisy is happy and colourful. It’s not always good weather outside, but Daisy provides enough sunshine for the world. It really is true what they say about man’s best friend. I often say that the world would be a much better place if more people acted like dogs (some of their more disgusting habits aside).

Everybody deserves to be woken up each morning with a big, slobbery lick on the face from a golden retriever, tail thump-thump-thumping against the nightstand.

She really is my best friend.

 

21st February 2020

 

Written for Reedsy’s weekly Short Story Contest

3 thoughts on “Routine

    • Joshua G. J. Insole

      Thanks, Doug! I’m glad to have thrown you a slight curveball! In fact, the last three stories I’ve written have all been non-horror — I’m not sure what’s come over me! Rest assured, I’m sure I’ll soon return to my old macabre self. 😉

      Like

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