Sunday, November 18, 2007

unfinished fiction

To start by stopping, that is what he had decided to do. First he would need to stop working for the airline. Then he figured it would probably be best if he stopped spending all his money on $20 drinks and one-sided lap love. After all that, he knew he would need to stop beating off to Internet porn pop-ups as well, maybe even find a girl who wanted him back. And then, finally, he would stop imagining a better life and start living one. Up until this point, he had been under the impression that he was not only incapable of living a better life, but unworthy of one, as if all the happy people had some special skill he lacked. And now, as his sleepy eyes blinked open, all around him he saw signs of things he would need to stop doing. His ragged nubs where fingernails should be, reminded him to stop eating his nails for breakfast. His large and brightly painted ceramic ashtray, intended for an army of smokers, reminded him to stop smoking. The shit taste in his mouth reminded him to stop forgetting to brush his teeth before bed.

He was used to being wrong so it didn't really upset him when he realized that this error on his part had cost him almost a decade of his life. As a child he had been happy, even hopeful, but somewhere along "the way" he had given up completely. Perhaps it had been the job; jobs so often can do this to the hopeful. He had started working for the airline, lured by the promise of travel vouchers. A job that paid not only in steady paychecks, but in new horizons and free adventures. He had imagined very little about the fluorescent lighting or the angry passengers. He certainly hadn't imagined the thinly veiled "promotion" to Lost Baggage Control Specialist, nor had he been able to imagine the utter loss of hope that would come with such a daily dose of hatred and undeserved blame. He had, however, on multiple occasions, imagined meeting some lovely and lonely traveler also waiting on standby. Making conversation as a welcome diversion from the anticipation and anxiety of connections possibly missed, or made. "I like your backpack." He might have said to the big-brown-eyed traveler. "Thanks, it used to be my grandmother's," she might have replied; a strand of hair ignored in the making of a haphazard ponytail sticking to her lips, moving with her mouth as she spoke. The trip and the travelers forever changed by the exchange.

He had imagined all the possibilities to the point that imagining was all he could do anymore. He imagined himself into the corner where the red glow of an EXIT sign did not reach. He had backed himself into the darkness of sleepwalking wide-awake. Wake up, that is what he had decided to do. Every word from an angry traveler became an alarm buzzing in his head. WAKE UP! Every flickering fluorescent bulb, the shifting numbers of an alarm clock. WAKE UP! Every changing traffic light, every smiling stranger, every speeding train, every crying baby, every waking moment of his sleeping life was alarming. WAKE UP! To start by stopping, that is what he decided he had to do...

to be continued...

No comments: