Rufus could barely keep his eyes open, but unhealthy levels of caffeine and sugar were just about preventing him from falling asleep at his desk.

He took another gulp of his coffee. It was cold. Did he have time to make another?

He looked at the screen. He felt like he had been staring at the monitor for a long time now without actually writing anything. He glanced at the clock in the bottom right hand corner.

2.32 am.

Technically he had just less than five hours until he needed to print the document. If he left then, he could make it to the office in time.

Just about.

It would be preferable, though if he could finish now. Not least because he could do with a few hours sleep.

He checked the word count. Five hundred more and he would at least be there in terms of quantity. Quality may be a luxury he couldn’t afford.

Rufus knew he could churn out five hundred words in thirty minutes. If he wasn’t so tired…

His eyes closed fully for a moment. He could feel himself drifting off.

Shaking himself, he stood up and walked towards the window. Opening it, he let in the cool night air. It helped, but he needed another coffee. He slipped out of his bedroom and tiptoed through the flat into the tiny kitchen. Not wanting to make too much noise, he opted, reluctantly, for the kettle over the coffee maker. Instant would have to do.

The kettle may have been quieter, but it was not quiet enough. He heard the sound he’d been dreading all night.

“Daddy, I can’t sleep.”

Looking down he saw his little girl, stuffed purple elephant in hand, gazing up at him.

“Go back to bed sweetheart,” he said.

“I can’t sleep, will you read me a story?”

Rufus could feel the grip of blind panic. The deadline! Everything he’d worked for!

“Not now sweetheart,” he pleaded,” “Go back to bed and Sarah will be here when you wake up to make you breakfast.”

“Please read me a story,” she asked again.

“Not now!” Rufus snapped.

She didn’t move, she just stood, looking at him, tears forming in those big brown eyes.

Eyes that were so reminiscent of her mother.

That was the moment that he knew he was going to miss his deadline.


Written in response to the Literary Lion Prompt – Eye

25 thoughts on “The Deadline

  1. Do you have kids? Curious about your perspective. He should have made her hot chocolate and given her something to do. She’d happily keep herself busy if she could stay up- whoops, I started to finish your story. Sorry…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a work of fiction so pertains to my life in no way at all, although I may have some shared experiences with the character he isn’t necessarily doing what I would do. How you interpret the story is entirely up to you. 🙂


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