Charles darted down the hall of glass windows, one hand desperately holding his hat onto his head while the other tilted up to reveal the time. He had fifteen minutes. Certainly not enough time to make him way home from work.
But it’s gotta be enough time, Charles. You’ve gotta be home in time.
At the end of the glass hall was a large lobby, complete with tacky carpeted floor and a shiny metal elevator. Folks were loitering there in outfits of all sorts – some in crisp suits, others in casual shorts, all busy with cell phones or hushed conversations. The elevator door was open and inside a woman was pressing the button to close the doors. Charles screamed down the hallway.
“Please! Hold the doors! Don’t close the elevator!”
Naturally, the woman began pressing the button more urgently. The doors slammed shut just as Charles reached them. He groaned and turned towards the door to the stairs on his right side. Everyone watched him as he took off at a run, bursting through the door and nearly tripping down the first few stairs. The stairway was clinical, no color, no signs; just dirty tile and harsh numbers indicating the floor numbers. He dropped two or three stairs at a time, meanwhile keeping his eyes on those numbers. First four, then three, next two, and finally the first floor.
He burst out of the stairwell, nearly smashing into a pair of children. The parents started to make their way over to scold him, but Charles simply rushed for the large set of double doors leading out of the lobby.
Familiar sites hit him from all around – a bustling street full of people walking or biking, bumper-to-bumper traffic, flashing lights, gaudy signs announcing the latest fashions. All of this he absorbed in a second before taking off to his left. He kept running despite the weird looks from passers-by. Occasionally he’d pass by someone who’d shout encouragement or insults at him.
“Don’t break anything, old man.”
“Go get her, pal!”
And of course, the obligatory “run, Forrest, run!”
His building was only a few blocks away, and there was only one crosswalk he’d have to worry about. As he came upon it, he swore under his breath – the traffic light had just turned green and a long line of cars were beginning to make their way across the street. Charles stopped at the edge of the crosswalk and jogged in place, anxious to get past the cars. A woman walked up beside him.
“On a health kick, eh?” she asked. “Can’t let your heart rate drop?”
“Just in a hurry, ma’am,” he answered. The traffic light turned red while the crossing light glowed with the image of a man walking. Charles tipped his hat and the woman and then took off.
Reaching the front door of his building, he reached into his pocket to pull out his keys. His door always had both the lock and the deadbolt shut, and each one had a different key. He managed to get his key ring out of his pocket, his fingers nervously fumbling over them until he reached the proper one. He stuck it in the door and turned before searching frantically for the second one.
“Where’s the deadbolt key?” he frowned. Charles looked over the keyring twice before realizing the tiny key had likely come off in his pocket. He shoved his hands inside and felt his fingers grasp the cool metal. Pulling the key out, he jabbed the dead bolt a few times before successfully inserting the key into the door. A quick turn of the key, then a turn of the knob, and he was inside.
“I’m home!” he shouted. He looked down at his watch. Two minutes late. “I know I’m late, but I’m home!” No one in the living room, no one in the kitchen – what was going on?
“Behind you, Charles.”
Standing outside was his mother-in-law, arms crossed. “We watched you playing with your keys. It was quite a sight.”
He started to retort, but then his wife stepped into view. She looked haggard and tired, but quite happy. In her arms was a small bundle of brightly-colored blankets. Charles ran straight to her and lifted that little bundle into his arms. Inside, the face of an infant rested with closed eyes. The child’s tiny breaths made the cutest sound that Charles had ever heard. His heart welled with emotion.
“He…he’s beautiful,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes. His wife smiled and they snuggled up together in front of the doorway. “I can’t believe I missed this for a stupid business trip.”
“It’s fine, Charles,” his wife said. “Because you’re not gonna miss anything else, right?”
He chuckled and shook his head. The baby stirred, his little eyes opening up and looking at his father for the first time.
“No,” Charles said. “Not one precious moment.”
Okay, so maybe this took me a bit longer than fifteen minutes. This has been a really busy week, adventurers, and it’s been a struggle to keep things going here on the blog. I wanted to still give you something, though, so I hope this is enjoyable. Do not be surprised if tomorrow’s fanfic goes up late, BUT IT WILL STILL BE HERE. So stay tuned and please be patient as I’m traveling this week. Next week I should be home the whole time and will be able to deliver better content, and actually have it posted on time. Thank you all for your patience and continued support.