A Natural Alarm: Flash Fiction

When earthquakes wake me early in the morning, I take it as a natural alarm. This morning, at the epicenter of a 4.7, I left a dream in which my best friend and I watched a hurricane rip out the hedges in the backyard while we ate cookies and ice cream. Then she was gone, the whole scene wiped away, and I was left looking at my old, haggard face in a dusty, rusted mirror.

I still keep some of John’s underwear around, not because I think he’s coming back, but for moments like these. If a really bad quake hits, all I need to do is grab the dog and a pair his boxers and I can be out the door in four seconds flat with my ass covered. Enough time before the rafters give in and my beautiful house goes sinking into high tide. 

The peril of living in a house on a cliff facing the ocean is living on a cliff facing the ocean. But with great views comes great risk, in my opinion, and nothing compares to floating over a seamless horizon from the comfort of your bathtub. The people who debate this have never taken a bath in my tub, and they likely never will because I probably don’t know them. I like living on the edge, so to speak, preferably alone. Perilous solitude suits me. 

Danger averted, I get out of bed, ass bare. I will make the coffee, open the blinds, bathe myself, dress myself, eat a boiled egg, and face the day—in that order or not at all. These are the rituals we create to live in a false sense of preparedness. I wasn’t prepared for my husband to leave me. 

It’s when I turn on the coffee maker I realize it isn’t so early after all. The clock flashes 1:24 PM. The fog has deceived me, yet again. The order all wrong, the alarm ill-timed.

I have no choice but to start all over again, tomorrow or not at all. 

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