Time : A conflict exercise short story

Right on Time

Bob Orderly lived by the clock. He got up at the same time each morning, reached his office at the same time, lunched at the same time, went to sleep at the same time, and has been repeating his routine for the past twenty years. On a certain Thursday in November, Orderly left his ninth floor office at 5:30 p.m. The guard seated at the entrance to the building said to him, “Well, I see you’re right on time, Mr Orderly.”

“Yes, I am, Gus,” Orderly said. “Have a nice evening.”

After the customary 10-minute wait at the bus stop, Orderly boarded Number 24 bus, as he did every evening. Waving his bus pass, he greeted the driver.

“According to the weather bureau, we’re going to get some snow later tonight,” the driver said.

Nodding, pleasantly, Orderly moved to the back of the bus and took the seat he occupied each evening. He read his weekly Time Magazine until the bus reached his stop at Sherbrooke Street West and Lansdowne. He walked his customary route down Lansdowne to his single family dwelling at the corner of de Maisonneuve Boulevard. As usual he prepared dinner and cleaned up. Afterward, he settled in his armchair and watched TV until bedtime.

The next morning

Right on time
Photo credit : Karen Massey

The next morning, Bob was awakened by the sunlight streaming through his bedroom window. That’s odd, he thought, since he remembered having closed his blinds last night. He saw that it had indeed been snowing during the night, since the rooftops were covered in a light snow. After having eaten his breakfast, he went on his computer to check his email, but instead received a reminder alert that, Svetlana, the Russian wife he had ordered online would be arriving in the country this Wednesday. He instantly remembered that he had to go pick her up at the airport by noon.

Bob started to panic because in his mind he had only been expecting her for December, and he had not taken a day off for the occasion. “How could I forget this?” he said out loud to himself. He had to call in sick at work, even though that very idea made him sick to his stomach.

Although he was unnerved, he got to the airport a quarter before noon, and had prepared a cardboard sign with the name of his future wife. He waited for half an hour, but she still had not arrived even though the airplane arrived right on the dot. He waited, and waited for three more hours. Finally, he realized it was time to go home.

Back home

He came back home swearing all the way to his door, but noticed something wasn’t quite right. He pushed the door open, took one look inside, and saw that all his belongings, everything, from his furniture to his TV, and his bed, had vanished. The only thing remaining was a small piece of paper folded in two that read “Right on time.” signed Svetlana, scribbled in a crooked calligraphy.

*This conflict exercise what written in a Magazine Writing class at Concordia University in summer 2013.

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