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Catching onix, p.5
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       Catching Onix, p.5

           Renee Conoulty
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I awoke to a quiet buzzing noise. The gentle, pulsed vibration was accompanied by the ambient sound of waterfalls and birds twittering. Eyes still closed, it took me a moment to process these sounds and realise that I had the power to stop them. I fumbled for my phone and unplugged it from the charger cord that was wrapped around the bedside lamp. I’d forgotten to do that once and had sent my previous lamp to its grizzly death. Keeping one eye screwed shut, I swiped the screen to turn off the alarm.

   I loved the smart alarm feature, brilliantly designed to bring me to consciousness more gently. I’m not a night owl, but I coped better with mornings if I didn’t start them with an adrenaline dump caused by the beep-beep-beep of a digital clock. The radio setting wasn’t much better. Waking up to someone talking or singing at me was just as scary.

  I rolled out of bed and gathered all the things I needed for my morning shower. After living on base and using a communal bathroom for the majority of last year, I had it down to a fine art.

  Room key, toiletry bag, towel, shower thongs (better safe than toe jammy), phone, shower cap, and Bluetooth headphones.

  I slipped out of my pyjamas and wrapped myself in my favourite silk dressing gown. Good to go.

  I loved reading, especially audiobooks, but since joining the military and living on base, my commute time was practically non-existent. This had put a huge dent in my audiobook listening, so I found a few ways to squeeze in some extra reading time. My latest was to put my Bluetooth headphones on under my shower cap—instant water resistant headphones at a fraction of the cost. My phone was technically water resistant too, but I didn’t want to play the books through the loudspeaker. Broadcasting raunchy sex scenes to the world wasn’t the first impression I wanted to make. I wandered up to the bathroom and opened the door. Then I slammed it shut again.

  “Oh my god, Rachael! Lock the door.” I shouted, attempting to wipe away the vision of her bending over, stark naked, to dry her toes.

  “Sorry.” Rachael’s giggle echoed around the bathroom. “Hey, Macie. I forgot to tell you. I have to go to medical this morning, so you’ll have to find your own way to Movements.”

  That girl has no boundaries. It was like talking to someone in the toilet cubicle next to you. Gross. I didn’t want to talk to naked Rachael, but I couldn’t be rude either. “Are you okay?”

  “Yeah. I should be getting my shoulder cleared today.”

  “That’s great. I’ll see you at work a bit later then.”

  I tried the second cubicle. Safe.

  With the shower now running, I turned the volume up a notch to fill my mind with new imagery and stood under the stream of lukewarm water. It took me ages to get the water to a comfortable temperature. I had to set it the opposite to what I was used to, a teensy bit of hot and cold on full.

  Feeling mentally and physically cleansed, I returned to my room to get dressed. I braided my hair, tucked the end up underneath, and pinned it into a military approved style. It was a relief to get the bulk of my hair off the back of my neck. My freshly ironed blue service dress uniform hung in the wardrobe ready to wear. I checked and double checked that my patches were all in the right place. I hung my uniform back up and dressed in my civvies—my regular civilian clothes. I didn’t want to risk spilling breakfast on my uniform. First impressions do last.

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