Leisure Time

The clock ticked away, rhythmically matching the clack of the typewriter keys. A record player in the corner popped as a new jazz record played, trumpet warbling from the speaker. Birds flitted through the dawn-lit forest looking to get the worm promised to them by idioms of old. The typewriter dinged as it neared the edge of the page, another ring echoed through the house.

For a moment, he thought it was the doorbell, but his cabin didn't have one. He didn't need one; no one rang these days. It rang again, and he withdrew from the world he was writing and went to the kitchen, turning off the egg timer he had set for his coffee. The previous pot had gone cold because he hadn't used the timer.

He enjoyed the ritual of his morning coffee. Grind the beans by hand. Pump the faucet and fill the kettle, heating it over the wood stove that kept the cabin warm. He rinsed his favorite cup clean, the enamel faded with years of use, and poured the hot water atop the ground coffee sitting in his press pot. Then, if he remembered like he had this time, he'd set the egg timer and walk away, entering the world he was building at his typewriter.

Each day he had done this. He would rise before dawn and stoke the embers of the stove and grind his coffee. Some mornings, when the mood struck, he'd don his boots and stroll through the ancient firs and redwoods, rapping their trunks with his knuckles. Feeling small beneath their canopies, he would gulp in the chilled morning air, sucking the evergreen air deeply and holding tight. And then he would exhale, half sighing, half smiling. 

He imagined the made-up beasts he created at the typewriter darting between the limbs or spaceships soaring overhead. He imagined whole civilizations living under the dirt he trod. Entire planetary systems swirled around atom-sized suns on falling pine needles that held galaxies. 

Coffee in hand, he walked back to his desk, placing the hot cup in the well-stained coffee ring on his wooden desk. He had hewn the desk when he was younger as a project with his father. It had stood for over twenty years, wobbly in one leg with some splinters snagging his sleeves every once in a while. But it was his desk. A fruit of his labor. And, like the worlds he built and stories he wrote, he was proud of it. He had gained a level of mastery with the other furniture in the small cabin, but he kept the roughly hewn desk as a reminder of modest beginnings.

The soft red and purples of dawn gave way to the red, orange light of the morning sun as it crested the horizon, obscured by the distant mountain range. He could already hear the forest waking up as squirrels scurried in the treetops. A pack of deer walked measuredly past the cabin, their strides princely. There were few people around to hunt them anymore. The author looked to the horizon where he remembered the city should've been.

The end of the world had come and gone, but here, where nothing mattered anymore, the author was glad that he could finally sit down and do what he always wanted: to write in absolute peace, living with his ideas as they appeared, as they grew.