My alarm went off at 5:30 AM. It's early, but my treasured wife, Cathy, has learned to sleep through its chimes. I put on a t-shirt and running shorts and run for 10 miles, which I track on my Fitbit® wristband to monitor my progress and my vitals. Once back in our sunny kitchen, I make a kale protein smoothie, to which I add a teaspoon of valerian root. My wife thinks it makes for an odd aftertaste, but I can't live without it. Three years ago, while on a mind-body retreat/antiquing expedition in the Greek Isles, I met a man of 82 who looked not a day over 65. I asked him his secret, and, with a wink and a smile, he handed me a little pouch full of the powdered root. I've incorporated it into my diet ever since.
I drink my smoothie at my desk, where I write for a few hours before taking a break for lunch — a turkey and tomato sandwich with my beloved wife, Cathy. Then it's back to the desk until I find myself unable to write any more for the day, at which point I take a cucumber into the backyard to snack and read. Our dinner, grilled hot dogs and Lay's® brand potato chips, is served to my five beautiful children and me by my wife Cathy, my soul's equal, the answer to questions I didn't know I had until I met her, like why birds sing, and what dreams are made of, and how rainbows happen. For dessert, we have pudding pops.
Louisa May Alcott
I have in the past weeks been taken over by something of a fit, waking at dawn to sit at my desk and scribble away at my pages, often unmoved by the task of eating until the sun is set. Still, I am only just recuperating from what I pray is a passing fever; so yesterday, near midday, when Marmee carried a bowl of broth into my bedroom, I gave it my heartiest attempt; and was grateful for its warmth.
Upon setting aside my little book for the day, I sat down to a supper of roast chicken and cake, made special for the visit of my dearest sister May, and her sweet Ernest; though it may not be said that he deserves the girl, he is a nice young man, and I dare say she looked very well indeed. We stayed up talking merrily well into the night, aided by coffee, another rare treat. In the early morning I was back at my desk, where I expect I shall remain until Saturday, when there is a party in Boston; and by which time I pray strength returned to my legs and color returned to my cheeks; that I might enjoy the long walk.
In the morning I walked to the café for a coffee and brioche. The air was damp and the sky was gray.
I drank the coffee and read the paper. I smoked a cigarette on the curb. The man delivered brown paper packages across the way. At eleven o'clock I filed a story. It was short.
I took the bus to the Boulevard du Montparnasse. Ezra was at the bar.
"What should we drink?" Ezra said.
We ordered beers and ham sandwiches. There was nobody much around. The bar was dark and cool.
"The ham's all right," I said.
I bought a coffee and took a taxi back to the room. I worked for a few hours and walked outside for a cigarette. A good-looking girl walked by. She went past the flower shop and around the corner. Then she was gone.
The evening air was warm and heavy, and I walked down the street to the restaurant. The crowds were starting to come out for the night. When Hadley came she was wearing a nice dress. We sat at the bar.
"What do you want to drink?" I asked her.
"Are you sure?"
I told the sommelier I wanted a beer. He brought the drinks over. The glasses were cold and sweaty. For dinner we ordered steak frites. The meat was rare and red. Hadley and I walked home.
After she'd gone to sleep I laid awake. I got out of bed and had a brandy while I listened to a man crying in the street outside.
On Monday I awoke at 7, when Annie brought my tea and biscuits on a tray. The biscuits were rather too dry for my liking; but I drank two cups of tea - with a drop of milk, but no sugar; most often I go without, but that morning I'd have happily taken two cubes, distraught as I was over cousin Mary's engagement, which is sure to be ruinous - and wrote in my dressing gown. A short while later I called again for Annie, and after dressing went downstairs for breakfast: eggs, toast, and ham. After a walk - I find that spending an hour each day on that gravel path vastly improves my constitution - my sister Cassandra and I were delighted to receive a visit from Miss Emma Newbury; whose family has only just moved to Bath; and who I expect is in dire need of feminine confidantes.
Though beauty is not among them, Emma has many charms; having endeavored earlier that morning to meet the vicar, old Mr. Campbell - of whom the kindest that can be said is that his words are carefully chosen; indeed, many of the desired ones seem never to arrive - she had discovered a winning strategy. Emma delivered to Mr. Campbell a jar of her cook's own sticky marmalade; and upon Mr. Campbell's first taste, she insisted she must be off on her next errand; to which Mr. Campbell could not object. For our own pantry Emma brought another such jar; which all together we ate on pieces of bread; along with a pot of tea prepared by Annie, this one much improved, and sweeter than this morning.
Bestselling author Dan Brown staggered into the kitchen, his mind still reeling from last night's events. The evening had been near perfect—the crudités elegant, the parlor warm from the glow of the earthenware fireplace, and the guests gracious, considering the circumstances. Tim and Rebecca, responsible for bringing Pictionary, had never arrived. But why? Dan Brown caught his reflection in the gilded mirror that hung over the mahogany end table. He was trim and pastoral, with a pile of straw-colored hair sitting neatly atop his head. Suddenly, Dan Brown heard an alarming sound.
My stomach. Lurching toward the stainless steel refrigerator, he placed his hand around the door's handle. Before he could open it, he heard a voice, chillingly close. "There's donuts."
Dan Brown froze, his breath caught in his chest. Still gripping the refrigerator's handle, he slowly turned his head.