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Short Story Day 86 of 365
Every morning for the past three years, Brock prepared his one-minute oatmeal the same way, a half cup of oatmeal with a full cup of water, cooked for one minute and ten seconds exactly, adding a tablespoon of light brown sugar tossed on top before mixing it.
Lately, though, he threw in a vitamin C tablet that was as large as a horse pill and just as easy to swallow. The hot oatmeal softened the tablet and added a bit of flavor to it. Which flavor he wasn’t sure, but seemed to be a citrusy vitamin C flavor.
For the first month, he was consistent about measuring the water, oatmeal, and brown sugar. Now, though, Brock was all in for a specific texture. He called it “oatmeal texture.” Like the not-too-hot, not-too-cold, but just-right temperature of Goldilocks’ porridge samples, his was not-too-watery, not-too-coagulated, but just right.
One morning after a long night of dreams he couldn’t remember but recalled having them, Brock poured the oatmeal into the bowl without measuring it first, added some water but was still in a daze as the water filled the bowl.
Before he knew it, the portion of water was at least twice as much as he needed, so he dumped in more oatmeal. Out of habit, he went to the sink again and turned on the faucet, not realizing that he had already gone through that step only seconds ago. The water level was still twice as much what he needed or wanted.
The dilemma he now faced was whether to scrap the whole breakfast or continue adding more oatmeal? If he were to heat it up now and eat it, it would be at least twice his normal breakfast portion, that is, if he got the oatmeal pour right this time.
If he scrapped this breakfast project to start over, he’d be wasting perfectly good oatmeal, something he hated doing.
He swirled the oatmeal around in the bowl and placed it into the microwave. His eyeglasses were in the other room so he saved himself the trip getting them and pressed 1 for a minute and then the ‘Add 30 Seconds’ button. Two beeps at this time of the morning was preferable than all the beeps that pressing one minute and ten seconds would entail. As he had done many times before, he was trying to minimize the number of long beeps the microwave made to not wake up his wife, who never quite understood why he woke so early in the first place.
The microwave kicked on. As he waited, he tried to recall the dream he had right before he woke up. It had to do with a friend abandoning him in a building with long and shady corridors. He waited for the friend to reverse his tracks and come fetch him, but he never returned, so there he stood as medical people and business people walked all around him.
What could it mean? What possibly could it mean?
When he snapped out of the dream, the timer was now down to 1:51. He opened the microwave to stop it and was met with an overflowing mess inside the appliance and on the rotating glass plate.
“What?” he said out loud. “1:51?”
In his laziness to forego grabbing his eyeglasses, he pressed 4 instead of 1 and the oatmeal had overcooked and overflowed. After he cleaned up the mess, he walked passed the oven and the clock read ‘2:24 AM’.
“2:24 AM?” Brock said.
Just as he spoke those words, his wife stumbled around the corner and said, “Who are you talking to and why are you up so early, Brock?”
“I don’t know and I don’t know. I’m going back to bed. It’s been a long morning.”
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