By Scott Moncrieff

Gilbert awoke at 6:30, per usual. He ate eight ounces of raw oats with a cup of almond milk and a medium-sized banana, plus two pieces of multigrain toast with almond butter and no-sugar-added applesauce, chewing each bite 30 to 40 times, per rigidity.

After a quick shower finished with a cold rinse, he brushed his teeth, rotating dental zones every thirty seconds, and flossed and gargled with a non-alcoholic mouthwash. He had prepared his backpack the night before–two energy bars and three 500mg capsules of carrot and garlic powder; water bottle; textbooks; a fully charged laptop and backup power supply. He slipped the backpack over his shoulders and pedaled the mile to the college parking lot, arriving fifteen minutes before class.

After acing his chemistry and physics tests, he headed to the gym for basketball class. Although he missed a free throw during a minor earthquake, he made the next thirty-three in a row and stopped only because the bell rang.

At lunch he met up with Natasha, his girlfriend going back to tenth grade when they had met at a convention for gifted homeschoolers. He had been attracted by her impeccable rendition of Chopin’s Etude in G# Minor; she was impressed with his poster presentation on how to enrich uranium in your basement.

As Gilbert was about to enter the door for his American history class that afternoon, the department chair called him aside and said that Professor Mulligan had a flat tire and was waiting for assistance beside the highway. Would Gilbert possibly be able to teach the class? “Of course,” said Gilbert. He still had five minutes before the bell, so on the back of his hand he planned what turned out to be an engaging group discussion on the passage of the fourteenth amendment, after which he gave an extemporaneous lecture on the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson and its implications for contemporary American democracy. Students milled around him after class, asking questions about the lecture and getting advice on their research projects.

The delay made Gilbert late for his pilates class, and more delay when he stopped on the highway to put on the still-waiting-for-help Professor Mulligan’s spare tire, but deftly weaving through traffic he was able to make it to the studio just as students were doing their first shoulder bridge with kick. After a vigorous workout, Gilbert met up again with Natasha for a walk by the river, pausing momentarily to save a little girl who had fallen out of her parents’ canoe. Natasha photographed the rescue, which appeared the next day in the local press. After giving Natasha a peck on the cheek, Gilbert headed home for an evening of intense study.

Just before bedtime, he got a call from Natasha.

“Gilbert,” she said, “I think we should cool it a little bit. I just saw online that I got a 98 on my sociology test. If we hadn’t gone for that walk by the river, I could have reviewed organic solidarity and the quinary sector of the economy.”

“We saved a little girl’s life!” said Gilbert. 

“True,” said Natasha, “and that’s important, but even though I’ve already inserted it on the draft of my personal statement for graduate school application to Julliard, I’m not sure it makes up for the catastrophe of the sociology test.”

“Very well,” said Gilbert. But after Natasha hung up he felt restless. Even though it was his bedtime, he stayed up and baked banana muffins from scratch. He wasn’t sure whether to eat them all himself or to offer some to Natasha, so he left them on the cooling rack.

The next morning he awoke at 6:35.

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Scott Moncrieff enjoys reading Victorian fiction and most other things that involve commas, semicolons, and periods. His writing has appeared in journals including Brevity, Rust & Moth, One Art, Rockford Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and The Nebraska Review. He teaches English at Andrews University.

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