A Day in the Life
Danny had three days left to live.
Although you would never know it to look at him. He rose at 7:30 to take a jog through Hyde Park, dodging through the autumn leaves with the rest of the runners and dog walkers. He loved this time of year, especially when the early morning sunlight caught the yellowing leaves and made them shine like old gold. This particular Monday morning he pounded through the park, watching as his breath misted in the cold air, and squinting into the low sun as it peeked above the treetops and buildings. He nodded at a few familiar faces as they followed their own morning rituals. A jog then a day in the office; a jog and take the kids to school; a jog and who knows what. Danny certainly didn't, nor did he care, having his own firmly set routine to follow.
He slowed as he approached a familiar sight: Zoë and James warmed up at the same bench at the same time every day. They were one of the few people Danny would pass the time of day with, rather than a smile and a nod. As he was coming to the end of his run, he took position next to them and did his warm down exercises as they warmed up.
"Morning Dan," Zoë greeted him. "Good run?" It was the same opening conversation every day, but it felt familiar.
"Good thanks," Danny replied, trying to get his breathing under control.
"Glorious day, don't you think?" James said, pulling his leg up behind his back. Danny took a deep breath and gazed up into the blue sky. There wasn't a cloud to be seen.
"You're not wrong, James. I love these days. Kind of make you happy to be alive."
They agreed with him and jogged off into the park as Danny took a swig of water and walked back to the entrance. He had a faint smile on his face. It was good to be alive.
The rest of the day for Danny was spent inside his office. Danny worked as an accountant for a large company in the city centre, so his days tended blend into one. The workload was constant and time consuming, so he would quite often sit at his desk through what was supposed to be his lunch hour. He shared an office with 4 others, older women all of them, all hunched over their computers in their cubicles, only really chatting when they surfaced to grab a sandwich of a cup of tea.
After work Danny shared the lift with Sue and Mavis, both silver haired and dressed expensively. They were so alike they could have been sisters, but they had little in common apart from their appearance.
"How was your weekend, Danny?" Sue asked.
"Pretty quiet thanks. Just had a couple of friends over for dinner Friday, and stayed in watching Strictly on Saturday. You?"
"About the same. I do love a bit of Downton, don't you Mavis?"
"Can't stand that. I prefer Casualty myself, and I'm working through a box set of Breaking Bad at the moment."
"Ooooh Mavis, isn't that a bit violent?"
"Don't be such a fusspot, Sue. It's fine. Have you ever seen it, Danny?"
Danny shook his head. "No, but I have heard it's supposed to be very good. I'm sure I will watch it one day."
"I can lend it to you when I'm done. Promise not to give the ending away!"
And so Danny took the tube home to his flat in Paddington, picking up a meal for one from the local supermarket on the way back, where he enjoyed a quiet evening in and an early night.
Tuesday morning was much the same as Monday; glorious blue sky, cold to take your breath away but perfect running weather. And Danny had two days left to live.
The shops had started decorating their windows for Christmas, although there were still several weeks to go, and after work Danny took time to browse around the shelves for presents. Seeing a DVD he thought his brother would like, he took it to the cash desk to pay for it.
"This an early Christmas present?" the girl behind the counter asked.
"Yeah, my brother keeps talking about this. He's dropped enough hints, though I better get it before I forgot."
"Well, you're very organised. Wish I could be too. I usually leave my Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve!"
Danny laughed. "I'm sure I will still be flying around the shelves in a blind panic on Christmas Eve too. This is very unlike me."
Leaving the shop, he joined the throng of other commuters and shoppers as they surged along the busy streets. It was pitch dark by then, and as he hustled along with the flow, he noticed they all had their heads bowed low, either concentrating on their feet or gazing at their smart phones as they walked. Danny made sure he looked up at the buildings as he passed. The Christmas lights were on too, and he always marvelled at the spectacle. It made him feel like a child again. Something struck him as ridiculous as he gazed up at the strings of bulbs threaded across the streets, shoulder to shoulder with other people who were more intent on updating their Facebook statuses than engaging in real life. How much money had been spent on decorating the west end, he wondered. Might as well have saved it and put up huge monitors, showing what was trending on twitter. Unbidden, a laugh escaped him, drawing confused looks from the hunched commuters surrounding him, which made it harder for him not to laugh out loud again.
He allowed himself to get swept into the nearest tube station and into the carriage for home.
Wednesday was Danny's last day alive. He followed his usual routine by taking a run in Hyde Park, although the sky was shrouded in grey cloud, and the sun didn't make an appearance. The leaves, rather than shining like gold, just looked dead. He rounded the last corner just in time to see Zoë and James begin their run. They waved to him as he smiled and waved back. It would be the last time they ever saw Danny.
He walked back to his flat, where he took a long shower before getting dressed. He had taken the day off and so he busied himself around the flat, tidying and straightening things, catching up some paperwork and watching a little daytime telly, a rare treat. He spent an hour browsing around EBay looking for a present for his father. Always the hardest member of the family to buy for, he finally found a first edition of Diamonds are Forever, his father being a big James Bond fan. It wasn't cheap, but accountancy was a lucrative profession at Danny's level. He clicked to buy it, and shut the computer down with a feeling of achievement.
As midday approached, he threw a few things into a holdall and left the flat, getting a taxi towards London Bridge heading for the Hospital there. The traffic was slow and the cloud began to shed the occasional drop of rain, which caused the pedestrians to turn up their collars and rush a little faster to their destinations. The taxi dropped him at the front of the hospital and he paid up, giving the driver a generous tip.
"Danny Brown, I have an appointment," he told the receptionist. She consulted the computer, and presented him with a stack of paperwork and asked him to read through it while he waited.
After several forms and waiting for what seemed like hours, Danny was shown to his room where he got changed into his gown and sat on the bed, trying to read a book he had been trying to finish for a few weeks. He found it hard to concentrate, his eyes being drawn to the clock above his bed. The sun was setting over London and the fluorescent lights had come on, making the view outside his window appear almost pitch black. The nurse called in with a porter shortly after.
By 4 'o'clock Danny was in the operating theatre. He died on the operating table.
Several hours later, Danielle woke up.