He dreamed a lot for an adult.
Unpleasant dreams made for unpleasant, uneasy mornings. Pleasant dreams put a pep in his step when he got out of bed to brave the day.
They made him love his wife more. They made the job tolerable. They even made the morning commute bearable. He could not always remember what they were about, at most he'd be left with a lingering ferrotype as the dream eventually melted away into that morning's worries.
Last night's dream had been good. Potentially erotic. He woke up as all men do and spooned his wife, inhaling her summer-coated hair, stirring her from her own unfinished slumber. She murmured something with darling and he got up to use the bathroom, making sure he was aware as he touched the knob on the door.
His dark, brown hair was still in good shape, he noticed as he brushed his teeth, though he did not like to style it. The skin around his heavily lidded eyes was still free of wrinkles. Only sometimes the salt-peppered stubble gave away his age.
He glanced at the mechanical watch on his wrist, a wedding present from his wife, but he wasn't thinking about her now. When he looked up, the intern was making her way to the water cooler. He kept his eyes on her and occupied his mind with lewd propositions. She was still in college. The tight, tie-dyed jeans she wore had drawn his attention.
He looked back to his monitor as she sashayed to her desk but glanced up again and made eye contact before she sat down. The intern, who was named Natasha, smiled at the man, whose name was Andrew Tibbets. He gave her a quick raise of the eyebrows in return. He adjusted his sitting position and got back to editing, it wasn't quitting time just yet. He looked at the clock on the wall, its second hand ticking rhythmically.
He liked stepping out of the office at the end of the work day. It held the promise of freedom, and change and excitement. There rarely was something to be excited about, but he liked it. He gave his hands a good, long glance, squeezed them into fists before relaxing them, shouldered his backpack, and headed to the car. On the way to the parking lot, one block over, Andrew Tibbets studied the people coming out of nearby office buildings. The immaculately dressed and the chronically stressed; I'm one of them, he thought, his outfit, more drab than immaculate, reflecting off the mirrored exterior of condos and office buildings.
On the way home he stopped at the supermarket. He had a list on his phone: Rice, chicken breast, tomatoes, something sweet. As he filled his basket and headed towards the cashiers, he felt a pain burning up from his belly to his esophagus. Though he had no way of knowing it, this was the beginning of a long bout of heartburn. He bit his tongue. Not hard, but enough to make sure he felt the pressure.
They ordered Chinese for dinner, it was too late to cook. She had veggies and noodles, he had fried rice with spicy beef. After a long shower Andrew's wife joined him on the couch, where he was watching a documentary about a herd of elephants whose migration path had been blocked by a recently erected fence around a reserve for hippos.
At some point that night, while Andrew walked through his apartment, he was able to put a hand through the wall.
He smiled, expecting a pleasant morning.