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The alarm goes off. Too early in the morning to be awake. And yet. Streets bustle. Cars honk. Birds sing. The city is awake. It’s always awake. Students up at midnight studying. Teenagers out partying. Young adults getting drunk on life. Adults arriving at work. Adults leaving work. Never stopping. Just a cycle on repeat.

Light filters in. A gentle breeze. Curtains drift and float. Soft shadows shift. A charging light blinks. A phone screen lights up, then dies down again. Texts received – ping! ping! ping! – and ignored. Scattered knickknacks across a dresser. A quiet room. A directionless musing. A silent adventure.

One eye cracks open. A small sigh let out. A shift. A turn. Blinks. Once. Twice. Thrice. Another sigh. A turn of a head. An exhale. A finger lifted. A body poked. A grumble. One layer of sleep removed. A few more blinks. A little more awake. A toe leaves the warmth of the covers. Then a foot. Then a leg. Then the other leg. Shivers. Sit up. Stand. A stolen blanket for warmth. The other person’s asleep again. A fond smile.

Feet pad on hardwood floors. Stairs. An almost fall. More stairs. The kitchen. Turn on lights. Kettle. Water. Rushing tap. Stove. Light. Wait. Pace. Reply to the ignored texts. The kettle whistles. Steam. Hot. Ouch. Two mugs, right. In goes two teabags. Plonk. Plonk. Fill with water. Steep. Bring the tea back to the bedroom. Carefully. Set them down on the bedside table. Quietly. Crawl back into bed.

“Bop.” Nose poke. “It’s time to wake up, Dan. It’s your birthday today.”

“Noooo…” Snuggle.

“Yes.” Forehead kisses. Hair petting.

“Five more minutes.” A small pout. A crumbling resolve.

“Fine.” Small, contented smiles.

Snores. Cold tea. Comfort.