Everything was exactly as it always was. Routine was something Willow Brown lived by, the thing that kept her moving forward. Sometimes she had moments in which she was certain it also held her back, but those were few and far between. Mostly she relished knowing what she would do when. Monday to Friday she woke up at the same time, went to work at the same time the same way, returned home at the same time the same way, and settled into her lush penthouse to eat dinner at the same time and go to bed at the same time. The weekends were slightly different, work not being a factor, but she still knew what she would be doing.
There was some room for flexibility. She could, for instance, eat lunch somewhere different, or have take-out instead of making supper. She could even rent a movie instead of watching television or reading a book. Every so often she even did something completely different, like go out with friends. Mostly she just stuck to her routine though.
Tonight was most certainly a night of routine. Willow had returned from work exactly when she had intended to and had eaten her balanced supper at exactly the same time as usual. She had done the dishes, cleaning up after herself in the kitchen, then proceeded to settle on the sofa with a small glass of wine and flicked on the television with the remote. She changed the channels exactly at the right times to catch her favourite programs.
With Willow, routine was everything. It helped her keep order in a world that was anything but orderly. Her friends often teased her about being anal retentive, or rigid, but she didn't care. Growing up she had had enough unstructured time. Her parents had approached child-rearing with the idea that she should do what made her happy, that she could guide her own development best. They had had the money to indulge her every whim and occasionally had indulged whims she hadn't even had.
Willow had rejoiced when she first entered school and discovered routine and structure.
Some might say she was in a rut, and admittedly maybe she was a little. It was a comfortable and safe rut though. Nothing was urging her to leave it, at least nothing that might actually succeed. Her friends accepted her, and her family simply shook their heads in confusion.
At 10:00 Willow turned off her television, drawing the curtains firmly after one last look out at the city. It was beautiful at night and staring at the lights brought her comfort, at least from inside the boundaries of her control. She could enjoy the chaos as long as it did not impinge upon her.
The lights went off in the living room, then on in the bathroom. Ten minutes later that light went dark and she padded silently to the bedroom. She changed into comfortable pyjamas, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and spent a bit of time brushing then braiding her hair to keep it from getting tangled.
By 10:20 Willow had settled into bed, picking up her journal and scribbling down the events of her day, her thoughts and dreams. By 10:35 she had settled down into her bed and flicked off the last light in the penthouse. Her head was on her pillow and it only took a few minutes for her breathing to ease, softening and slowing as sleep claimed her. This too was according to routine. It was only minutes later and she was firmly entrenched in the land of slumber, a willing embodiment of Wynken, Blynken and Nod.
It was an irony that perhaps Willow would appreciate later that the routine she had built to make her feel safe would be the thing that made her the least safe of all.