The Five O'clock Man

He was always there. Nobody ever saw him at any other time of the day. Just five AM. The man's secrecy worried the suburban mom on occasion, but not usually. He wasn't around enough to become a cause for concern really.

He never even wandered outside his backyard. She wondered how he always managed to find something to do, it was impressive. She often saw him watering the grass or pulling weeds, so calmly, so mundanely, it almost seemed normal. Sometimes she forgot that it wasn't normal, that he was different from their neighbors.

She didn't think the other houses knew he existed. It was painfully possible that she and she alone was the only person that stayed up at night and wondered about him.

Did he have a name, a family, a life? Or did his entire existence revolve entirely around the fifth hour, his life only move in the plot of land behind his elderly house.

He could never be seen past 5:59. Not ever a shadowed outline against the window was visible, nor a muted shuffle of his senior footsteps.

Sometimes, if the morning light woke the baby up early enough, she would see him leaving the back door. He never seemed aware that she stood there and watched him, but she strongly suspected that he always knew and just chose not to acknowledge it. This was an unsettling thought.

Early in the morning, before anyone else was awake, she clutched her newborn in her arms and wondered just what his secret was.