Just a bit later than usual

Kostya was bored. He woke up with the sun. Actually he woke up because of the sun in his face. Another day. Another boring sunny day. He could hear the sounds of the birds and the trees, dogs and people in the street. Another day. Now he would need to survive the long hours until he was sleepy again. He would have to eat. He would have to move. He would have to bear the long hours of light until the day fell once again.

No, he couldn’t stay in bed. It was worse. Time moved much more slowly. And he would become hungry, and the suffering was much worse. He had to eat. He had to move. The alternatives were always much, much worse.

The clock in the kitchen was ticking. Day after day it ticked slower. Staying in bed made it tick even slower, but being hungry made the ticks louder.

And in a couple of hours Nanny would arrive. She always arrived at nine o’clock sharp. If he were still in bed she would start talking. The pain that he felt in his ears when he remembered her voice was already unbearable. To hear her voice demanding that he get up was a hundred times worse. So he learned that he should be up before she arrived. He learned to be quiet, to bathe before she arrived, to sit on the table and wait for breakfast. He learned to give her no trouble at all. He knew that if he did anything unexpected, if he moved a centimeter away from his usual position, if he was a second late, she would speak. He did not dare.

He did his bed, bathed, placed the towel in the sun and sat at the table. She would arrive in 15 minutes. She would arrive, make his breakfast, take his dirty clothes, replace the towel, the soap, and the sheets, load the fridge and the food machine. And then she would leave, an hour later, and only return the next day.

The day was long and boring. During the day he was never hungry because the he could operate the food machine at any moment. The warm food came in aluminum boxes. The cold food came in transparent plastic boxes. The liquids came sealed in plastic bottles. He had to place the plastic containers in the blue bin, and the aluminum ones in the yellow bin. Nanny would get very angry if he mixed them up.

In one minute the door would open, and Nanny would rush in to make his breakfast. He was sitting at the table waiting for her, looking down and making no sounds whatsoever. In thirty seconds Nanny would enter the apartment door downstairs, and less than a minute later she would be at the dining room, where she expected to see him sitting silently in his place.

The clock ticked fast. It was almost ten p.m. The city was dark. Kostya sat silently at the table. Hungry. Bored. Tired. Sleepy. He heard the dogs outside and thought: Nanny. Just a bit later than usual. In one minute she would be inside to make his breakfast and would be angry if he had turned on the food machine. In thirty seconds he would hear the door open downstairs. But the clock ticked faster and Kostya fell asleep.


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