The Struggle: Commute

My foot slams on the brakes. There is a brief rush of adrenaline as my eyes snap open and my hand seizes the wheel in a death grip. I dozed off again on the highway, causing my car to roll forward. I had stopped just inches away from rear-ending the driver in front of me. The guy behind me must have realized I was falling asleep, because his bone-rattling honk made me jolt in my seat. He honks again. I shoot him a crusty-eyed look through the overhead mirror. The cup of black coffee in my hand is long empty. Clearly, its caffeine had no hope of waking me in time to save me from an accident.

The cars continue to crawl forward on the highway at the height of morning rush hour. I glance at my watch. Class begins in five minutes.

I lean back with a groan. How did I get here?

The answer probably begins with my cat. My five alarms, each ringing at three-minute intervals, didn’t wake me. If the pet didn’t, I would have had to make up yet another story about being sick. My mom gave her to me as an April Fool’s joke. She’s supposed to be a sphynx cat, but some genetic mishaps gave her patches of scraggly gray fur on her neck, legs and back. I decided to keep her. I named her Beyoncé.

Her purr is as loud as a motor, but that isn’t what stirs me from slumber. It’s how she steps on my chest, my stomach, my thigh, as if each paw has the weight of lead bricks. I push her, and she comes right back. She wants breakfast, and she doesn’t usually have to wait so long for it. I roll over and glance at the clock. 7:25 a.m.

I was supposed to have left the house 10 minutes ago.

I brush my teeth while changing. I shove books into my backpack while feeding Beyoncé. I brew coffee while brushing my hair. I tell myself I don’t need breakfast, glance in the mirror, grab the car keys and bolt out the door. Don’t ask me how I was able to finish it all so quickly. My hair looks like pipe cleaners after a kid’s playdate. My face looks like it’s been in The Shining’s hotel a few too many weeks. At least my clothes actually look like a college student’s.

In the car, on the highway, five minutes until my class begins, I wonder if getting out of bed was even worth it. I blast “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” on the radio, and I sing along in an effort to stay awake. I hate singing and I hate that song, but this is what I get for not waking up earlier, I guess. I tell myself to sleep earlier tonight so I won’t oversleep, but I doubt I’ll actually follow through. Oh well. For now, all I can think about is how fast I can speed-walk without looking desperate and how unobtrusively I can open the classroom’s door to make my way to my seat.

By: D.R. Lace ~Guest Writer~