Jack never arrived late, even his birth was two weeks premature. When his father gifted him an antique pocket watch, he’d taken to set it 10 minutes ahead so he would never feel the sting of disappointment in himself for arriving late somewhere.
He could no longer do the same to his alarm clock. It synchronized time with the atomic clock. Birthday gift from Lillian. She’d laughed when she gave it to him. He never understood why.
Therefore he woke up at 9:00. He set the shower alarm for 2 minutes flat, brushed his teeth, put some pomade in his hair and then put on the grey suit he and Lillian had picked out for the day.
He checked his pocket watch.
He put it back in the vest pocket, grabbed a tin of breath mints from the nightstand and put it in his left jacket pocket. He checked, just to make sure.
He walked to the kitchen and forced himself to eat some crackers, careful not to spill them on his tuxedo. He would have to change again if he did.
He watered his plants and checked his watch again.
Time to go.
He plucked a bouquet of lilies from the vase on the kitchen counter and dried the stems with the kitchen towel. He held the bouquet far from him. No stain on his tuxedo or he would have to change. He never was late.
He walked out of his apartment, turned left, down the stairs, onto the street. The MG TD shone at him, freshly waxed beauty. He opened the passenger side door and placed the lilies on the seat. He sat down in the driver’s seat and started the engine.
His hands searched for the watch.
He started the car and drove down the two blocks to her house. It blinked at him in the morning sun. Freshly painted in bright white paint, his gift to her for this day.
He checked his watch, but his eyes didn’t want to see the time. All he thought of was her.
He picked the flowers from the passenger seat and checked that they left no stains behind.
Then he walked down the path to her door. He felt solemn.
His fingers clenched around his watch.
He waited for 5 minutes, staring at the arms of the watch, wishing they would move faster.
At 9:40 he rang the doorbell.
It flew open immediately as if the one opening it waited behind the door for the moment the doorbell rang.
Lillian stood there in her slacks, her hair a mess of bunched up curls, a bright smile on her face. “Your timing is perfect, Jack. ”
She pried the lilies from his clenched hands and put them in a vase next to four similar bouquets. She then stood on her toes and kissed him. “You are a fruitcake, but I do love you. Now go. I have a lot to do to get ready for our big day tomorrow.”
Jack kissed her farewell, waited until she had closed her door, and then walked back to his car, holding up his arm as if he already walked with his bride next to him. He checked his watch.
He jumped into his car and headed out to city hall. Took him 6 minutes today. The average time for the week was 8 minutes. He would keep it scheduled at 10 for the big day. He’d rather wait five minutes at city hall.
He smiled and drove to the florist.
Perfect time to pick up the wedding bouquet.