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When Days Call

Sophie-Louise White

The alarm clock rings. It plays a song that she’s not heard before. Happy Days – just those two words on repeat. There’s static in the music, and it sounds a bit like ocean waves. She slams her hand on the button to stop it. Then she brushes her teeth and hair. She gets dressed, eats, and checks her watch. It’s time to leave. When she gets home she removes her bra and slips off her shoes. She microwaves her meal that she never remembers prepping, then goes to bed. 

The alarm clock rings. It plays a song that she’s not heard before. Better Days – just those two words on repeat. Ocean waves litter the beats. By the time she’s checked her watch she’s forgotten if she’s brushed her teeth. She doesn’t remember doing it. She breathes into her hand and sniffs it. It smells minty. She’s good to go. 

Days, Days, Always Days – repeats itself in a loop. A seagull cries. When did her alarm clock start? She slams her hand on the button to stop it and sits up. What colour were her walls? Did she paint them orange or had they always been like that? As she brushes her teeth she meets her own eyes in the mirror’s reflection. White streaks her hair like lightning. She spits into the sink and rinses. There’s another toothbrush as she puts hers back. She stares at it for a moment. The next thing she remembers is being at work. 

Days, Wake-up Days. She slams her hand on the button and sits up. Has it always been this dark? She walks to the window and opens the curtains. Bright sunlight warms her face. She looks at her bare feet, at the carpet underneath and she winces. When did it get so dirty? She hoovers. When she’s done she feels a lightness, something familiar but also new. Pride? Outside, a seagull pecks at the window.   

Her bed calls to her. Her limbs start to feel heavy. 

Wake-up Days plays. She stretches wide and turns it off. She slips from her bed and watches it call to her again. The soft downy duvet and pillows. No. Not today. She makes her bed and opens her curtains. The light doesn’t feel as harsh today. It’s softer. She stares out over the garden and into the horizon. She can see the silver line of the sea from here. The seagulls cry out and she can almost hear her name “Janet, Janet”. 

“Janet,” a male voice says from behind her. 

She turns to face him and she blinks. She can’t remember the last time she looked out at the sea. An endless wide pool of the unknown. Her curtains had stayed closed. For how long? How long has she been like this? 

“Michael,” Janet says. “You’re not at work.” 

“No.” Michael frowns. “Neither are you.” 

“Day off,” 


“Oh.” She shifts on her feet. “When did we paint the walls orange?” 

“The house came like it when we bought it.” 

“Hm,” she muses, and Michael puts his hands in his pockets. 

“I think I’ll go to the beach today,” she announces after a long period of silence. 

“Just make sure to wipe all the sand off before you come back.” Michael turns and makes his way to the living room. 

Janet feels something then. Another tug. Another calling. The sea sounds in her ears. She blinks and sand warms the soles of her feet. Sea air fills her lungs, and she finds herself sitting on a dune looking out at the ocean again. 

Soothing waves gently lap the edge of the beach. The tide is going out. Boats bob in the distance. Different shapes, sizes, models and makes. She wishes she knew more about them to the point she could name them. She wishes she was on one, facing the unknown and journeying where no one else had dared. 

“Janet.” Her name whispered in the breeze. 

 Wake-up plays. Janet turns it off. She makes her bed and puts her hair up in a bun. She decides to iron her shirt and pairs it with that black pencil skirt she vaguely remembers buying a few years ago. On her way to her car the seagulls squawk her name and this time she replies, “I’m coming.” 

After work, she stays up until Michael comes home. He blinks when he sees her as if coming out of a daze. She smiles and passes him a glass of whiskey. 

Tentatively, he takes it. “What’s the occasion?” 

“I’m leaving you.” 

“What? No. You can’t throw away twenty-five years,” 

“I already did.” 

There’s another of those silences again. Heavy with truths untold. He downs the whiskey and sleeps on the sofa. 

Janet is up before her alarm. The sun hasn’t risen yet, and she dresses as quick as she can. Another familiar and new sensation bubbles inside her. Her bed still calls her name but the seagulls call louder. She’s listening now. She’s waking up.

Sophie-Louise White lives in the historic county of Cornwall. In 2021 she completed an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, and a BA in Film Production in 2020 with a focus on scriptwriting. She enjoys exploring.

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