Coming Online

The story is inspired slightly by fic_simplicity's prompt #43: birdsong, and primarily by darsynia's "First Line" meme on Live Journal. The meme was to take a first line from one of her stories and use as the start in a different story. My choice is underlined.

John wakes slowly, his body becoming aware of its surroundings in stages, as if his senses want to take turns coming back online. Hearing is first, the raucous sound of early-morning bird song sounding through his intentionally-open window. It’s followed by the scent of the sea, and of tropical blooms as a breeze coming off the Pacific carries the flowers’ fragrance on top of its own pungent aroma. His sheets feel warm and sticky; his hair is damp. His open window invited the island’s perpetual humidity in, making him sweaty. His mouth tastes foul; a few too many beers with his brothers had seen to that.

He takes a deep breath, letting it out in a satisfied sigh, and finally opens his eyes. The room is dimly lit; dawn is breaking on the other side of the island, but not here, not yet. He slowly scans the room, letting his head move languidly from side to side. The furnishings are dark, angular shapes with only a hint of their true colors burnished on their surfaces. The pictures are indistinct, glass giving gray reflection to what little light filters in. A ceiling fan’s dark blades turn lazily above him, the dangling light pulls dancing slowly in tandem.

There’s so much space surrounding him, so much empty air. The walls are set far apart; it’s a full four meters to the door from his bed. When he stretches, he can’t touch the ceiling. Soft carpet tickles his toes and deadens the sound of his footfalls. It’s not the cramped, metallic, rubberized, white-noised place he just left, with its stale air and chilly, functional ambiance. It’s what a billionaire’s son would expect as his due: soft, warm, fresh-scented, spacious luxury.


John finally allows himself to glance at the clock. Five-forty-five – Scott would be along soon to drag him out for a morning run. He groans and rolls over, closing his eyes again.

But it’s no use. He pulls back the sheets and sits up, running his tongue over his teeth and not liking what he feels. A quick trip to the bathroom and a visit with his toothbrush sets things right. He dresses, half-listening for his elder brother’s approach.

When the knock comes, he’s ready. The door slides open, and there’s Scott, looking sharp and alert, like he’s been up for hours – which he probably has.

“Ready to go, John?”

He runs a hand through his unkempt blond locks and smiles. “Yeah. Let’s go.”

They pace each other along the beach. As he compares the forgiving sand and the rhythmic swish of the waves to the station’s treadmill, with its hard belt and motorized hum, he realizes that he is more than merely “online”. He is awake, and alive to all the possibilities the day may hold.