The night, thankfully passed without any more undue creepiness and I was able to doze a little after 5am. One of those ‘not dead to the world’ but ‘deep enough to do some good’ kind of dozes. I could have woken to carpet rustling but it was thankfully quiet.
My alarm went off at 6:30 but I didn’t hear it. I used to have one of those alarms that would just shut itself off after a certain period of time but learned that I can’t function in the real world with one of those. My brain had to have heard it, even though it wasn’t set too loud (waking with a jump is not a good thing for someone with night terrors) but, for whatever reason, my brain seemed to say, “Oh, that noise? That’s normal and human and part of the sane world. No reason to wake up for that, just yet.”
The sound of the steady, high-pitched err–err–err started softly in my dream and got slowly louder in volume until part of me realized I had to wake up to make it stop. Sitting up on the couch and beginning to stretch, I remembered the meeting, about which the buzzing was trying to alert me, and became immediately aware that it was now more light outside than it should be.
“Ah shit.” I muttered as I unsteadily gained my footing, the cramps and protestations in my muscles making themselves known. As if the returning blood flow to my extremities also wakened my brain and caused my eyes to go wide, I realized I was probably going to be late. I ran into the bedroom with my customary glance around to ensure that I was completely alone and checked the clock.
A little after 7:15, thoughts and calculations begin to fly through my mind, 45 minutes and I’m supposed to be there, 20 minutes for the drive, 25 minutes left, no time for coffee, shower takes 5 to 10 if I rush it, but then hair… Shit, there’s no time for my hair to dry! Rushing through the bedroom, and trying not to fall over, I grab my clothes that I had set out and hastily jump into them. Quickly to the bathroom to figure out what to do with my wild and wavy, brown hair and apply a little powder to even out my complexion and reduce the darkness under my eyes, even though I know they’ll look terrible anyway.
A quick look at the clock from around the corner of the bathroom door and I realize I’m making good time. 18 minutes left. I can calm a little as I brush my teeth and plan out the best path between home and work to avoid as much traffic as I can. Slipping shoes and my dress shirt on, I look around for my keys. My keys, my keys, where the hell are my keys? Not in the bedroom, not on the dining table, Ah hah! On the counter. Keys grabbed, shoes on, teeth brushed, and one quick look in the mirror to make sure I don’t look like a crazy woman and I’m out the door with 23 minutes ‘til meet time.
I slide my key into the ignition of my little, dark green Neon and turn, the car makes the sound of gearing up and then doesn’t turn over. The flutter of disbelief that today, of all days, my car would just stop working made me stare blankly at the instrument panel, as if expecting an answer. With a small shake, I snap myself out of it and try the key again. This time, my little car fires right up and I squeal, “Yes!” in my excitement. Immediately, I compose myself and look around the quiet neighborhood to see if anyone noticed my ridiculous exclamation. Nope, street’s clear and all the little townhouses and duplexes are minding their own business.
I slide the shifting wand into reverse and back out of my space. Here we go, I say to myself, on the way. Traffic in the vicinity of the house isn’t too bad and I think I’ll be doing okay. I may even make it, respectfully, a few minutes early. No sooner had I come to this happy conclusion that I saw the car up ahead slow to give a school bus enough space to squeeze into the lane. “No. No, no no!” I yell at the driver. “What’s wrong with you? Why did you do that?”
Glancing at the clock on the dash, it seems to mock me by changing a digit before my very eyes. No longer will the world enjoy the minute in time on this day known as 7:47am as 7:48 has come to take it’s place. Leaving me with just 12 precious minutes to get through traffic and to work. As if in response to this new development in time, the school bus slows to a stop, ahead of me, and teasingly bends out it’s elbow to the cars behind. The little red stop sign meaning that children would be crossing glinted with the morning sun as if the bus was giving me the middle finger.
“Oh god.” My hands on the steering wheel slide together to touch at the knuckles of my index fingers and I hang my head in defeat. There’s just no way I’m going to make it on time, now. Anxiety and apprehension about what this will mean for my future flows freely and unchecked through my head as I watch that cruel arm of the bus retract. Sunlight, glinting off the shiny metal gives me one final sneer before it withdraws to the safety of the buss’ side. Okay, I’m thinking, I’m not going to make it on time. When was the last time I was late? What excuse did I give, then? Should I call my boss? And tell her what, exactly? The school bus did it? There was a bump in the night? I’m crazy and can’t function like a normal person and this should be considered a medically related tardiness?
The brake lights of the bus go off as if it’s going to move forward but then, as if in afterthought, they light up again and I see the glinting of a second bus through the windows of the once again stopped first bus, pulling out of a side road, to take the lead. They both inch forward, as if in giggling conspiracy.
“Fuck!” I startle myself with the ferocity of my own voice as the first bus begins to rock and sway as it brakes to stop, again. I don’t usually get upset and certainly don’t generally find myself yelling obscenities at no one. I am a crazy person, aren’t I. It’s really happening. Today will be the day that people will talk about; in hushed whispers, just outside my door, on visiting day.
As if answering my admission of defeat, both busses turn right at the next light and get blessedly out of my way. A quick look at the clock on the dash reveals that, professionally, I would have been there already but should at least be pulling in the lot by now. I’m at least five more minutes out; barring the return of the devil’s fleet of school busses.
Thankfully, the planet saw fit to give me one more day of sanity and spared me further delays. I fly through traffic for the rest of the way and I can see my boss and the district manager, chatting congenially in the parking lot. I’m sure they’re there, waiting for me, so that they’ll know exactly what time I get there. My boss seems to hear the car as it bumps and rambles into the opening of the lot and turns to face me. The brief, but very there, look on her (sort of ninja-turtle-shaped) face said that she was NOT happy. I bite into my lower lip as I try to pretend I didn’t notice and park the car.