About the Writer
Gillian Burnes works as a magazine copy editor and lives in central Maine with her husband and daughter. Her fiction has also appeared in Glimmer Train, and she's at work on a novel.
Congratulations on the purchase of your Gower & Knightcross EasyDawn 200™ Alarm Clock with AM/FM/MP3 wake tones and customizable lighting options. CAUTION: Lamp becomes hot! Do not place any object on top of lamp. Do not drape with cloth, even on date night with your husband when a certain peach silk scarf would really improve the atmosphere in the chaos of your bedroom and lend your skin the kind of rosiness it hasn’t had, for some reason, since the birth of your child. Do not use bulb exceeding 60 watts. See below for details and specifications.
To set the alarm, press ALARM. Use the up and down arrows to select the hour of your wake-up time, and then press SELECT. Use the up and down arrows to select the minute of your wake-up time, and then press SELECT. Fifteen minutes before the alarm, the light will begin to brighten gradually. Remember you are in your own bed; you are not in a tent at sunrise in your childhood backyard with your late grandmother and Officer Jimmy McNulty from The Wire. Nor are you panicking in a leaky bathysphere as searchlights fall from the surface above. You can remember the word “bathysphere” the moment you open your eyes, which is strange because it escaped you just recently when you were telling your child about scientists who study deep-sea creatures and marveling inside at how all the doors of her life are still open, except the ones already closed by her gender, perhaps her sexual orientation (why is she so giddy around the babysitter?), your and your husband’s combined genetics, and any deleterious effects of your parenting style on her intelligence, temperament, and tastes.
To choose a wake tone, press TONE. Use the up and down arrows to scroll through the options, and then press SELECT. Do not choose MP3, because the discomfort of waking will corrupt that song forever. The imitation birdsong supplied on the EasyDawn 200™ is a silly idea, since you have been sleeping through birdsong all your life. For God’s sake do not pick NPR. To choose the soft imitation gamelan music, scroll to the icon that looks like a nipple whistling a quarter-note but in fact represents a resounding gong, and then press SELECT. Your only association with gamelan is a concert you attended in college with your funny platonic friend Josh Salzburg. Josh’s girlfriend was a world music major and a member of the gamelan ensemble. Way down on the stage, she looked like a butterscotch candy in her shiny golden wrap, kneeling at her array of resonating tubes. You know she and Josh broke up and that he moved to Pensacola and made a fortune designing computer software and smartphone apps. He did not contribute to the software in the EasyDawn 200™. You will never see him again, but your subconscious mind will recall his happiness on the night of the gamelan concert, and you will feel good for 4.75 seconds without knowing why.