An alarm sounds loudly in James’ ear, an urgent buzzing in brief spurts. He pushes a button to halt the noise, then lays flat on his back, eyes now open and staring at the bedroom ceiling. Same time as any other weekday, 5:00 am. He’s more tired than usual but feels better when he remembers it’s Friday.
His 6’4” frame rises in the dark and walks to the beaten up old dresser and grabs clean socks, underwear, and undershirt. Removal of an old, ripped tee and boxer shorts expose his muscular body before he dresses himself, kisses his wife on the left cheek and tiptoes past their infant son’s crib and the room shared by their seven and four year old daughters.
In the kitchen, he pours himself a glass of apple juice and drinks it down. Reaching for the front door, he hesitates, thinking for a moment about the life that could have been, fingertips barely gripping a ball at the height of his jump, the plays he could have made, the roar of a crowd; a life he may have led with his family, and the life they lead today.
He opens the door, walks the hallway of their apartment building and heads down the stairs, careful with each step, mindful of his knee. An hour on two trains this morning and the same later, in the opposite direction; eight hours on a forklift between commutes. Thinking of tomorrow and Sunday at home, he smiles.