He wakes every morning at six. Regular as clockwork, inflexible as stone.
He lives alone
The dog needs walking. It’s pacing by the back door. Back and forth. Back and forth.
His hand shakes as he holds the kettle under the tap, the force of water causing it to sway. Side to side. Side to side till the water froths over the top. Damn it. His hand shakes as he clatters it onto the hob.
Nearly out of matches again.
Hiss of gas then a whoosh and a roar as the flame catches and flares. Sizzle and pop as the water on the outside of the kettle steams off.
Hiss and roar and the noise of the dog scratching the door. Nearly out of matches again, must get some more. His hand shakes and he drops the nearly empty box onto the floor.
Damn it. His hand shakes again.
The crust of the bread splinters and falls as he hacks through it. Breathing deeply. In and out, back and forth with the knife. Deep breaths as the blade hits the wood of the board. Crumbs fall to the floor unheeded to join the dried food drifting to the cracks.
Nearly out of bread now. He shakes his head, breathing deeply.
Lights the grill with another match and slides the bread under. There’s a smell of gas and burnt match that catches at the back of his throat.
He rinses the cracked mug under the tap. The glaze is all cracked. It’s crazed and ingrained with stains.
One teabag from the box. One spoon of sugar from the bag. Splash of milk from the carton.
Nearly out of milk dammit. He breathes heavily as the milk goes back in the fridge.
The dog whines and paces, scratches the door and whines.
One grey ear droops whilst the other is alert.
One eye is greyed with cataract, the other alert.
The kettle whistles feebly and he snatches at the knob to stifle the gas. Trembling he pulls the kettle towards him, water sloping with a hiss onto the hot metal of the cooker. Pours the water into the mug. The kettle goes back to the hob with a hollow boing as it catches on the metal of the ring.
The dog is panting as it paces, back and forth, agitated, half blind, half deaf. He pulls the mug towards him, agitated and out of breath.
The dog pauses and stares at him. He stares at the dog. The corner of his mouth twitches up. Half a smile of recognition. This morning, every morning. Wonder which of us’ll go first?
Dozy bastard thinks the dog. That toasts burning.