The clock on my phone reads 1:40am, and I finally give up on trying to sleep and crawl out of bed. I slip into the walk-in closet and get dressed by the glow from my phone before heading downstairs for coffee and breakfast. My mood can not in the slightest bit be categorized as pleasant.
While I wait for the coffee to brew, I notice that I’ve gotten a message from Rivi waiting on my phone, only five minutes old.
Why are you awake at this hour? I text her.
My phone immediately vibrates in my hand: Rivi is calling. “Hang on,” I say as soon as I answer. I put in my earbuds, then put my phone into my pocket and talk to her hands-free. “It’s too early for phones,” I say.
“It’s too early for texting,” she says. “There’s a difference.”
“It’s too early for people-ing of any kind. This is cruel and unusual.”
“That’s me,” she says brightly. “Cruel and unusual. You should know this by now.”
I slump against the kitchen island, desperate for the coffee to start to flow. “Don’t make my brain hurt right now, Rivi. I’m stabby as it is.”
“You’re always stabby, Sebastian. Stabby is your middle name.”
“I’m extra stabby today. Goddamn dog next door was barking all night long. We hardly slept at all.”
“I knew it was something. It’s why I texted you. I was having a psychic moment that you were awake. All my paranormal tinglies were buzzing. Felt kind of sexy, to be honest.”
“I haven’t had coffee yet. I’m not functional enough for this conversation.”
“I’d promise to be gentle,” she says, “but you know how I am.”
“That goddamn dog,” I grumble. Finally the coffee is ready, and I eagerly pour it into a cup. “It barked all night long. All. Night. Long. I don’t think we slept for more than ten minutes at a time.”
“I knew it,” she says. “I was just laying here watching Hulu and I kept thinking that I could smell wet dog. Paranormal tinglies, man. All up and down my bits.”
“No more bits, please,” I say. “I’m hanging up now. I need to finish my coffee and eat something before work, and I can’t do that while you’re talking about your bits.”
“What are you having for breakfast?” she asks.
“What? I don’t know. We have bagels, so… probably a bagel.”
“Tingly bits!” she shouts into the phone. “Don’t eat the bagel, Sebastian. My bits say not to.”
“I’m hanging up, Rivi.”
“Have some oatmeal, Sebastian. Don’t eat the bagel.” Then she shouts again, “Tingly bits!”
“Goodbye, Rivi,” I say, and I disconnect the call. I go to the counter where the bag of bagels is and untie it, then reach in and pull one out. I have no energy or patience for toasting it at this point in the morning, so I just put it between my teeth while I close the bag up again, spinning the twist-tie around the bag’s neck. It takes about that long for me to realize that the bagel tastes decidedly unwell, and I pull it from my mouth while simultaneously dropping the bag back onto the counter. I look at the bagel and just now notice the fine velvety covering of grey mold that is blanketing the surface.
I am leaning over the sink and spitting out the bits of moldy bagel in my mouth as my phone buzzes in my pocket. I straighten up and take it out, rubbing the back of my hand across my mouth, seeing a text message from Rivi on the phone’s screen: