Suitcase in hand, you head to the station. You keep stealing glances at your watch. You don’t want to be late. You can’t be late again.
Of course, you can be late. It’s not unforgivable to be a minute or five minutes or even ten minutes late. But you made a solemn promise to yourself that you fully intend to keep.
Which is why it’s such a shame that your boss decided to keep you just that little bit longer than usual. Not even for anything important either, he just wanted to chat about nothing for a bit. You wanted to excuse yourself right away, but he’s one of those people that’s impossible to disengage once he gets to talking. He asked you if you had any plans for the weekend and you tried to use that to hint that yes, you really ought to be going or else you’ll be late, not that it worked very well.
But eventually he walked away and let you go about your business, and you scrambled to get your stuff together and get out the door before anyone else could engage you in banal conversation.
You glance down at your watch again. You only have five minutes to catch the train that will get you there on time. You pick up from a brisk walk into a light jog, sorting out the money from your wallet as you go. You somehow don’t drop any coins as they jostle about in your hands.
You make it to the station right as the train pulls to a halt on the platform in front of you. You quickly throw down the exact change in front of the cashier, receive your ticket and hop onto the train.
You settle back into a chair, between an old bespectacled woman staring dead ahead with a small private smile on her face, and a man with a large golden retriever on a leash. You regain your breath and let yourself relax for the short journey. You’ve made it this far, but you’re not there yet.
You open your suitcase and give the contents a quick once over. In the mad scramble to get out of your office, you thankfully didn’t manage to forget anything. You take your keys out of the case and quickly pocket them to save time later.
You think about what you’re rushing off to. The scene that will greet you when you get home. Sweet scented candles, tasty food, and the love of your life. You can’t believe it’s been ten years already. So much time and so many memories. Yet somehow, it feels like only yesterday that you first went up to the shy one in class and dropped a few flirty hints.
Not that they were noticed right away. Nor that you were all that confident in delivering them. But ten years later, it seems to have worked out pretty well, all things considered.
You look down at the golden retriever and he looks back up at you with an expression of absolute serenity, his eyes wide and caring, his tongue lolling out of his mouth. He makes you think of your own dog at home, also a golden retriever. You’ll be seeing him soon.
You reach out to pet the dog, but you notice that he is wearing a bright yellow jacket and realise that he is a service dog. You put your hand back on your lap and just return his smile. He’s doing a good job, and you don’t want to disturb him.
You turn around and the old woman on your other side seems to have been watching this brief exchange. She gives you an eyes closed toothy grin and then turns to look back ahead of her. Something tells you that she too has a dog waiting at home.
You get off the train as soon as it pulls into the station and hurry down the steps to the busy street below. You check your watch again. You still have time to make a quick planned stop on the way.
You bluster into the florist’s and pull out your wallet again. You put in an order last week to be collected today and the cashier recognises you straight away. She gives you a broad smile as she brings you the bouquet of purple orchids from the back room. You pay her, take the flowers and quickly hurry back out the door and on your way.
And of course, in the less than two minutes you spent inside the florist’s, it has started raining.
You don’t have time to worry about that now. You have an appointment to make. An appointment that has been planned out for months now. You hold your suitcase over your head and hurry down the street. You’re thankfully not far from home.
You fumble with pulling your keys out of your pocket without dropping them, your suitcase, or the flowers, but you manage to eventually get the door open and you hurry inside and out of the rain.
You take a moment to catch your breath in the hall before you start climbing the stairs. Ten flights up, but you’re too full of adrenaline to worry about how many stairs you have to climb. You’re almost there.
You finally reach the top. You finally reach the door. You put the suitcase down on the floor to your side and adjust your clothes. You’re still wet from the rain but it doesn’t matter. You’re here now. You put the bouquet behind your back, clear your throat, reach up and knock on the door.
I have just lit the two candles on the table when I hear the knock. The dog barks excitedly, knowing that you’ve come home. He chases his own tale for a moment, and then looks up at me, tail wagging. I quickly fix myself up in the mirror, just like you did moments ago, and I open up the door and there you are.