The cat knows when I'm waking up before I do. I think my breathing changes, because he pads right up to my nose, without touching it, and waits there until my eyes open. And so my return to consciousness is greeted and punctuated by his expectant gaze. If I just close my eyes to drift off again, he'll prod the pillow in front of my face with his paw and utter a small meow, weighted with impatience.
If my strategy works, and it's a big if, he'll bugger off, usually climbing to the top of my closet to cover whatever jumper that isn't yet entirely encased in cat hair with his fur. Most mornings, though, it works. It works because he knows I'm waking up anyway. So up I get, hobbling on my morning legs to check his food. If there's more than a bite left in the bowl, I swear at him and go back to my room, trying not to wake my flatmate.
Not many mornings have been warm enough to crack the window open. When it is warm enough and the window is opened, the sounds of the lobsterman, the seagulls and the harbour drift through my room. The cacophony acts as audio caffeine. I'll slump into the chair at my desk and fiddle with my glasses, wondering whether they're dirty or if my eyes just can't quite focus yet.
It's usually around then, after my eyes focus, that I check the clock and realise it's before 6. And so I swear at the cat again and go back to sleep.