It's 9:50 in the morning, Casey wakes up.
She usually wakes up at half past six, goes out for a run in the park near her place, comes back to her place for a cold shower, prepares for the day and set out exactly at 8:00 to catch the 8:10 bus to the university. On her way to the bus stop, Casey usually grabs a deliciously baked pastry from that fancy bakery around the corner.
It's not that she's so comfortably off in her life to afford not cooking her own meal, she's just been dreaming for almost an eternity about living a normal life like this. A normal, independent, simple life. A lonely life. Besides, she thinks herself a terrible cook. Casey eats light during the day; lunch is usually merely a sandwich or an apple from the convenient store on campus, and dinner is what the warm-hearted owner of the tiny bistro where she holds a part-time job as a waitress insisted her to take for free after they're closed for the day. Nor did she used to be a morning person who jogs and exercises regularly, a smart and brilliant undergraduate student, and a self-reliant young woman. But Casey feels she’s entitled to break free, bravely if not completely, from her old self whom she secretly finds impossible to have reconciliation with.
It'd be an understatement to say that Casey wakes up today, since she was practically startled from her slumber. With no recollection of the contents of her dream no matter how hard she tries to remember, she checks the old wind-up alarm clock on her nightstand, the time was somehow stuck at 6:23, with the minute hand of it desperately trying and failing to keep on moving forward. With each and every ticks the clock mechanism makes, the second hand shakes, and struggles in vain. Casey stares at it for a while, fascinated by the movement. Musing over the dream she just had and forgot, Casey believes something happened in her dream, although none of it managed to leave a single trace of evidence in her head, it leaves an aftertaste of bitter sweet and caused a burning sensation in a part of her brain, luring her to seek and find out. Then the sudden realization of missing out the morning class finally dawns on her, cutting her off of the deep thought and raising another monstrous thought: HOW could she has just overslept!
What is she going to use as an excuse for her absenteeism? Is what Casey decides as the more pressing matter as she frantically jumps out of the bed and starts putting on clothes and shovels text books into her backpack. Yes, there was a party on campus last night which could be used as a reason for a well-socialized undergrad’s oversleeping the early-morning class, but neither was Casey invited nor did she cared to attend at the first place. Of course she was not invited, just like back in high school she would only got the last-minute pity invite, which she nowadays would politely turn down given the whole experience she had with the last one.
Or would she?
This stir of thought is quickly pushed to the back of her head, as Casey grabs her keys and tumbles out of her apartment.
Casey is completely out of breath when she almost reaches the bus stop. Thankfully, the street isn’t too busy at this time of the day for her to bump into any pedestrian. She’s getting her breath back when a familiar stern and cold voice behind her starts.
‘Had a night out?’
Casey snaps her head around so fast she can almost hear its cracking, only to find the forever-serious-looking son, Andrew, of the bakery owner standing closely behind her. He studies Casey’s face for a few seconds when receiving no response, then pushes a paper bag into her hand.
‘Better not fool around too much recently, have you heard about the missing female grads students in the news?’
Casey is still speechless from both being startled and Andrew’s comments, which is caring but offensive at the same time. She looks down, lying in the paper bag is two perfectly baked croissant, they smell so heavenly she feels she somehow wants to throw up.
‘No, my alarm clock stopped working’, she finally manages to say, seeing Andrew’s father, the owner of the bakery, stepping out of his shop with his hilarious milky pink apron and tries to join their untimely conversation.
‘Casey! My sweet girl! Please ignore Andrew for his clumsy conversational skill, you know he doesn’t mean what he said, do you?’, the elder man puts his arm around Casey’s shoulder in a loving manner, turns her around and walks her to the bus stop as the next bus approaches slowly. ‘He’s just not used to expressing his feelings in a correct way, please be patient with him.’, he blinks at her and adds in a voice that’s pretending to be a whisper.
Hearing this, Casey finally gives a tiny smile. She thanks him for the croissant, insists to pay when she comes back for the day and jumps on her bus.
The smile, tiny but infectious in its own way, leaves both man dazzled and silent for a while before they retrieve back to the bakery.
As the bus left and the street becomes quiet again without it’s occupants, a creature in the shadow reveals itself from the darkness. If anyone were to pass by at this moment, they would find it talking to itself in the most odd and bizarre way.
‘Humnnn, baby girl looks happy, making friends, living her new life. I feel genuinely happy for her. But WHAT is that outfit?! She looks like she woke up in that shit’
‘That young guy from the bakery is behaving like an dumb buck during mating season around her, I do not approve that’
‘I misth Cathey, why can’t we go talk to her and play with her? I hate you guyth!’
‘Wowwww, careful with that mating season comments, someone’s been brooding the whole f-ing time. Let’s go buy some pastries and shit’
‘Does anybody even care about this poor girl who needs her insulin shot? Oh, beat it, admit it, you’re sulking because that guy was trying to hit on her. I bet you don’t dare to admit that…’
‘I bet he doesn’t…’
‘count me in!’
‘Shut up, I don’t feel a thing, except the fact that we’re standing in this filthy and dirty garbage dump, I’m going to kill all of y…’
‘He, who has not known of any warm feelings in his entire life, deems affection as weakness, and suspects that the tiniest demonstration of loving will make him vulnerable…’
‘Shut up, Shut up’
‘Ella parece tan buena, quiero ser su amiga. no es justo que nunca haya hablado con ella antes. alguien esta celoso…’
‘Alrighty everyone, let’s stop teasing the poor guy here, let him denies all he likes. We have more important things to figure out’
With that last sentence, the lonely figure disappears from sight.