Prompt: The aftermath of being late. Late. Late!
Word Count: 1000 words
I hope you enjoy it.
‘Michelle, how come you’re not up yet? Are you sick or something? I thought you had that meeting today.’ came a voice from the doorway, her flatmate.
‘What?’ Michelle mumbled, her head still on her pillow. She heard the door close. Pushing the covers away from her face, she turned to look at her alarm clock. It was five minutes past seven. Michelle was instantly out of bed and on her feet. Surely she had remembered to set her alarm clock. She always set her alarm clock for half past six. How could it be after seven? She needed to leave by seven thirty to arrive at work by eight thirty. Her commute took an hour, on a good day. She was supposed to have a meeting with the departmental manager later that morning.
Dashing to the bathroom, Michelle shot a ‘thanks’ at her flatmate who was eating toast in the kitchen. Michelle tore off her nightdress. She turned on the shower. While she waited for it to warm up, she decided that there was no time to wash her hair. The shower wasn’t heating up. There was a knock on the bathroom door.
‘Sorry, Michelle, there’s something wrong with the shower, we’ll have to call the landlord.’ said the flatmate.
Michelle turned off the shower. After glancing at the bathtub, she decided on a quick wash at the sink. It was going to be a day for strong perfume and a ponytail. Feeling not quite clean, Michelle returned to her bedroom. It was seven twenty. She grabbed the first skirt and shirt that came to hand. Once dressed, Michelle glanced in the mirror. There was a stain on the front of her shirt. Stripping it off, she grabbed another from the wardrobe. Michelle looked at it carefully before putting it on.
Michelle slipped on some shoes, grabbed her handbag and keys and ran for the door. Her flatmate waved a cup of coffee in her direction.
‘No time, sorry.’
The flatmate, who worked at a school that was within walking distance, shrugged and drank the coffee herself as Michelle left the flat. It was seven thirty. Michelle was on time. She walked downstairs and stepped out into a bright sunny morning. After her earlier mad dash, she felt better. It was a five minute walk to the Underground station, enough time to gather her thoughts.
On reaching the station, Michelle went to pull her ticket out of the pocket on the side of her handbag, where she always kept it. There wasn’t a pocket. It was the wrong handbag. She checked inside. Her purse wasn’t there either, nor was her phone. The only option was to return home. So, Michelle turned around and hurried back to her flat. Half way there, she felt her ankle slip sideways. There was no pain, but looking down, she saw that the heel on her shoe had snapped. Michelle hobbled the rest of the way to her flat, one shoe on.
‘What’s wrong?’ asked the flatmate, as Michelle walked through the door. Michelle silently held up the shoe as she went to her bedroom.
A few minutes later, Michelle had a new pair of shoes on and the right handbag, with all her bits and pieces in it. It was ten minutes to eight. As she left the house, Michelle decided to send her boss a text to let him know she was running late. He wouldn’t be happy but it was always better to let him know in advance rather than just walk in late. The battery was flat.
As she approached the station, Michelle thought that there were a lot of people standing outside. The closer she got, the worse it looked. The sight was all too familiar. There must be a problem with the trains. Michelle heard someone say the words dreaded by all London commuters, ‘signal failure’ and ‘suspended’. Michelle knew, from experience, that it would be at least half an hour before the trains were running again, if she was lucky.
While mentally running through the alternatives, Michelle decided to get a coffee at the stall next to the station. Finally something went right; there was only one person ahead of her. Coffee in hand, Michelle decided to catch the bus to a nearby station that was on a different underground line. Everyone else was apparently thinking something similar. A large queue was forming at the bus stop. Michelle joined it. It was nine o’clock. Three buses and fifteen minutes later, Michelle finally got on one.
Michelle stood on the bus, holding a rail with one hand, sipping that last bit of coffee from the cup in the other. The bus jolted and a loud bang came from outside. Something hit Michelle on the back. It was warm liquid.
‘So sorry! My coffee!’ a woman exclaimed.
Michelle just shrugged; it was just one more disaster for the morning. Peering over the heads of the other passengers, Michelle could see that there had been an accident a few cars ahead. Moments later, passengers started asking the bus driver to open the doors and let them out. The bus driver obliged. Along with most of the other passengers, Michelle got off the bus. It was a half hour walk to the other station or a fifteen minute walk home.
Giving up on trying to get to work, Michelle returned home. It was after nine thirty. She was over an hour late. She plugged her phone in and waited a few moments for some charge. Then she called in sick, apologising for not calling earlier. Michelle went and lay down on her bed, exhausted by her fruitless attempt to get to work.
About an hour later, Michelle turned on the television. Instead of the usual day time TV, there was a news bulletin. Two underground trains had collided and derailed. At least ten people had been killed and many injured. If Michelle had been on time, she would have been on one of those trains.