Grass gently tickled Gerald’s cheek; he sat bolt upright, and swatted the cockroach off his face; their nocturnality causing them to return to their shared home at dawn, scurrying around and waking him up, like a hideously natural alarm clock. It landed on the thread bare carpet and scuttled off into the corner of the room.
He swung his legs out of bed and pulled back the coarse grey blanket. On the handle of the wardrobe hung his red uniform; the only barrier to the filth of the room being the clear plastic he hung it in. Gerald flicked on the kettle and took a tea bag from the caddy; he opened the fridge and took out the last of the milk, then emptied it into the cup while the kettle boiled.
Walking over to the window, the bright lights of the high street glared against the delicate colours of the sky; the brash, bright neon of advertising violently infiltrating the tranquility of dawn. He gazed out of the window pondering what the boundaries are between wanted and unwanted nature. The kettle clicked off and he waited for the sediment to drop to the bottom before slowly filling the cup.
As the tea sat there steaming, he got dressed into the uniform. Looking in the cracked mirror, he carefully brushed down the creases, straightening the collar and putting on the cap. He held the sleeve up to his nose and breathed in the cleanness. Through the window, rays of light emerged over the top of the nearby buildings, causing the Postman lapel badge to shine with pride.
Gerald gulped down the tea, quickly enough to heat him, hot enough to burn – like a poor man’s whiskey. He gently opened the door and quietly closed it behind him. From his third floor bedsit, he made his way down the stairs, treading on the edges of each step to avoid creaks. As he reached the final flight of stairs, he heard Ms Brunswick’s door open behind him.
The smell of lavender poured out of the room, overwhelming his senses with fear. She emerged like a breaching shark. ‘Rent, Mr King’ she screeched as Gerald hurtled downwards.
He flung open the door. ‘Later, Ms Brunswick, later,’ he yelled as he slammed the door behind him and ran out into the dawn air.