It was sunnier than usual. A deceptive sunlight—a photograph of which would have you reach for your shorts and flip-flops with hands made frictionless by extra layers of sunscreen. But it was one that wouldn’t brook liquid water. Sam sighed as he glanced out the large circular window of his tiny square room in the cramped SoHo apartment. He was sharing it with two others, both of whom had demanding jobs, the stress of which they rebelled against by passionate, amorous wrestling. The floor was hardwood, but with the nails holding the boards generously offering their opinions on foot texture.
He opened the refrigerator and reached for the milk that his roommates kept in the door despite his reproaches about temperature fluctuations and bacterial growth. It was, strangely, in the middle shelf, preserved and ready to lighten his morning coffee. Perhaps one of his roommates’ overnight guests had stumbled on to his blog. What did people do before the internet became fast enough to overcome cognitive drift?
His eyelids had just barely surrendered to the sun, and he realized that his nose was a little slow on the uptake as well. The smell of coffee, not unlike their usual Sumatran, but with a little more body, and maybe a hint of cinnamon, hit him no sooner than five minutes after he entered the room. Smiling, he opened the door to pick up the Times. Waking early usually ensured getting a virgin, rubber-banded paper and the faint almost-escaped smell of ink. Today, all he saw was a bare welcome mat. Apparently, the cost of home-brewed coffee was going to be the trouble of reading news with an iPad balanced on four fingertips and the thumb around the center pole on the uptown 6 train.
He stepped out of the shower with red eyes. Somehow, the post-doctoral fellow in charge of knocking out specific proteins in laboratory mice had not mastered the art of closing his eyes before soaping his face. The roll-on deodorant seemed exhausted, but he rubbed it on anyway, vowing for the third time that week that he would buy some on his way home. He unslung his blue denims from the arm of his chair and put them on. A creature of habit, he sucked in his gut and appraised himself in the mirror. Nodding as if to pump up for one of many monotonous days, he got dressed, queued the audiobook version of Atlas Shrugged on his phone and left for work. He needed a new peacoat; this one felt like it was designed for a thinner man.