birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Daybreak

Perhaps setting the alarm on my phone to play the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" doesn't establish the right tone to begin a day, but there it is. After hitting snooze, but before I sit up, I rotate both my feet several times to try to stretch them out and hope that it mitigates the plantar fasciitis. Then I gingerly rotate my shoulders and arms before pulling my legs to my chest. A doctor had recommended these before-rising stretches about a year ago. "How long do I do this for?" I asked. "Oh, no. That's just what you do now," he said, giving a wrinkled smile that I seem to be receiving a lot these days.

When I finally get out of bed, a small shot of pain from my right heel greets my first step. I tell myself it will get better as the day unfolds, and by the time I've made it downstairs, I've convinced myself that that's the case. It's 6:47 now, and I've got 17 minutes to myself before the rest of the house wakes up. Start up the electric kettle, let the dog out, saunter to the front door to get the newspapers. Looking up from my front stoop, I see the crescent moon and a bright Venus in the twilight. The street is still dark, and I remind myself that soon it will be darker still. I expected the air to be chillier than it is, which is both a blessing and a curse. The relative warmth will make it a good time to clean the gutters. But it means I'll have to clean the gutters.

As I head back to the kitchen to grind the coffee beans, I make note of how my right heel still bites at me. The orthopedic inserts aren't doing their job, but I'm not doing mine, either, by playing Ultimate frisbee yesterday when I should be laid up. I put three breakfast sausage links on the frying pan as the electric kettle pings, a sign to me that it's time to tend to making my coffee.

I lay out the newspapers on the dining room table the way I have every morning for decades, pull out a chair and start to scan the headlines. I hear my daughter's alarm clock go off upstairs as I take my first caffeinated sip. I have three minutes before she comes down. And then it's over. Or it's begun, I can't tell.

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