Proof that a traditionally wordy Zaedah can, in fact, produce a story under 500 words (483 to be exact)...


The next time that I caught my own reflection

it was on its way to meet you,

thinking of excuses to postpone.

Arctic Monkeys – Crying Lightning

His hereditary bluster will blame the coffee, the cold, the hour. Human fingers are not immune to tremors under strained circumstances and no one would deny that three feet of snow constitutes a motive for chill. Heeding a weather advisory is sensible but he'll never be more prepared than now. As such. If only he could find his car keys...

Despite the thirty minute excavation of his vehicle from the grip of fossilized precipitation, the rear view announces that he still looks good. The lack of wind has been polite to his hair and the lack of sleep does not show beneath his eyes. The shirt is new, as is the cologne, which the counter girl assured him would make even a casual passerby crave warm sand and umbrella drinks. His teeth have been brushed a reasonable three and a half times before nine am – a ringing phone castrated one especially brisk Crest session.

Still, this shouldn't be taken as worry.

Losing a glove in a snow bank is not evidence of nerves. Neither is the near-collision with the plow, the fishtail toward a stop sign or the possibility that his socks might not, according to the visually astute, match. Black and brown appear understandably similar in the pre-dawn. Which is when he'd begun dressing. Three outfits ago.

The day might hold some minor significance, not that he's measured, calculated and committed the block on the calendar to memory. Because calm is imprinted into his genetic code. Confidence is woven into the strands of his DNA. There is no need to reconsider the probable outcome, the potential responses. Some might assume that the words he will speak have been written out, revised, rehearsed and rehashed. But the existence of a crumpled mountain of index cards at his place will be vehemently denied.

After a shaky start, he's making good time.

White greets at every turn in the road but the traffic is minimal to the point of cooperative. Where is everyone? Shouldn't the locals be out in force? Is this not an enchanting, blizzard-kissed Saturday morning? Not that he's eager for anything to hold him up, take up time, delay, hinder, impede and otherwise postpone. But honestly, where have all the red lights gone? The influx of friendly green is troublesome.

He'll be there soon. Very soon. Practically right now.

There is no cause for concern.

Mostly because that particular state had been deftly passed hours ago. His present emotional condition, the one that perches on his lap as he explains to his high-performance engine why they're maintaining a senior citizen speed, is what doctors would, just before committing the patient, label as unrestricted panic.

In his pocket, the velvet-lined box turns leaden.