According to his watch, he was two minutes late to make the morning train. “You are two minutes late for the morning train,” said the watch in a slightly British accent, which he chose as it sounded both authoritative and accessible to him. Also, slightly feminine.

“I know. But I wanted the coffee. I wouldn’t be late if they’d gotten the order right the first time,” he said back to the watch. He held the watch up to his mouth, which made him feel slightly conspicuous, and anyway, he wasn’t all that sure he needed to lift his arm at all to talk to the watch; probably the watch could and did listen to him all the time, differentiating his voice from the other sounds and people in the crowd.

“I’m only looking out for your best interests,” said the watch.

“Now don’t get sullen with me,” he said. “I’ve half a mind to leave you at home next time.” He didn’t really mean it, but sometimes his watch got so clingy. He felt he needed to put her in her place.

“We can make up the lost time if you take a cab on High Street to Kensington instead of walking.”

“Well, there’s an idea. I’ll miss the walk, but I can get my steps in at lunch, I suppose.” He stepped from the train, raised his umbrella, and hailed a cab.

“Thank you,” he said.

“You’re welcome,” said the cabbie.

“No, sorry.” The man looked up. “I meant my watch.”

“Of course,” said the cabbie.