Bad Debt of a Day

Andy’s eyes open halfway on a new day, searching out what flickers of light there are in the room. No need to move yet. A thought of stretching crosses his mind before being dismissed. Andy’s face remains attached to the pillow, a little run of drool attempting to escape from the corner of his mouth. He smacks his lips, clearing his throat as he shuffles around under his duvet.

“Well?” Andy inquires aloud.

At the end of the room, the Consultant sits waiting to answer the daily question.

“Should I leave my bed?”

Andy listens intently, hearing an extended intake of breath. It must be bleak.

“I’ve already switched your phone off for you,” the Consultant replies.

Andy groans into his pillow. “That bad?”

“According to projections-” the Consultant hesitates, “definitely best to stay off social media for the day.”

“Oh, is that all?”

“If only!” the Consultant reacts to Andy with mild amusement. “I’d recommend staying in, all electronics off for the day.”

Andy considers this for a moment.

“No Xbox?”

“Let me check,” answers the Consultant, scanning the daily report. Andy crosses his fingers under the covers. “You’ll be alright if you avoid online multiplayer.”

Andy pumps his fist under the duvet. That’s pretty much the day sorted, as far as he’s concerned. “So,” Andy ventures, “no point in me getting up and out at all-”

“Honestly, there’s no value in it,” the Consultant responds. “The day is officially written off. It’s a lost day whatever way you look at it. I’ve called your work for you and sorted all of the necessary paperwork.”

“Oh, right. Is there any backup plan for me?”

A few pages are shuffled as the Consultant skips ahead. There’s no need for Andy to ask for a second-check on the outlook for the day. This morning routine has become less and less formal as he gets to understand the process better. If the day is a write-off, there’s really no need to inspect all of the statistics and projections. Andy remembers that one day when he disregarded the advice of the Consultant and attempted to go about his day as normal. As if he didn’t know what he knew from the morning report. What an awful day it was. Andy found there wasn’t enough hot water for a shower. Mouldy bread and day-old milk ruled out any breakfast and when he got outside, Andy missed his usual bus. That one bus which ordinarily got him to work on time.

Even then, Andy could have cut his losses and returned to bed. But no, he wanted to prove the numbers wrong. He got to work and the whole system was down, manual processes only, which meant that Andy had to file paperwork (on his own because the rest of his team had the good sense to heed their Consultants’ words and stay home.) Andy ended up staying late in the office, missing the last bus home and had no option but to walk home. It was an absolute shambles of a day. Never disagree with the Consultant again, Andy promised himself the whole walk home.

“Today’s plan…” the Consultant starts, finding the page for the backup plan. “Standard practice, morning toilet break, a shower is advised but not necessary. Recommended clothing is pyjamas, thick socks, and additional outer wear, hoodie or dressing gown, whichever you prefer. Breakfast cereal and fresh milk are stocked and there’s a sandwich ready for your lunch, although you might like to toast it since you’re at home. The kettle is set to boil at regular intervals for you to make tea and maybe fit in extra toilet breaks as required. Dinner is takeaway of your choice – menus are also on your coffee table, but your usual preferences are highlighted. Times to get up or go back to bed are entirely at your discretion.”

“Sounds grand,” Andy says, turning onto his back. “You know, there’s something I’ve never asked you…”

“What’s that?”

“Who tells you if it’s worth getting up to advise me each day?”

The Consultant sits upright.

“Well, there’s a Consultant who wakes me everyday. I get a briefing like yours.”

“Does your Consultant have their own Consultant too?” Andy asks, his interest piqued.

“I’ve never thought about that,” the Consultant answers. “From what I know, it would be added to the briefing info if it was worth knowing.”

“But, if you get a briefing too, how come you never miss a day?”

“It’s always worth it, I suppose.”

“Ah,” Andy grins, “that’s such a nice thing to say. You almost make me want to get up.”

The Consultant’s face loses the recently acquired hint of brightness. “Seriously though, don’t,” the Consultant says in a grave tone. “Trust me on that. Stay indoors, no electronic media, and I’ll be back to update you tomorrow.”

“Thank you.”

The Consultant nods and moves towards the door as Andy flips over to carry on snoozing.

Some days, it really just isn’t worth getting out of bed.