I can hear the annoyingly digital sounding BEEP-BEEP-BEEP of my alarm clock from the living room.
I look sideways and see the early light of a new morning. I stare blankly at the TV for what feels like hours before I reel myself up off the couch and walk toward my room, on my way I stub my toe on the edge of my Korean made ďentertainment centerĒ Iím far too tired to care or to notice the thin streak of blood running down and onto the carpet.
I notice my bed and how the blankets are all spread about as if a hurricane had passed through here. I start thinking to myself about how much a hurricane might make things better. Maybe itíd get rid of the ridiculously hot weather and give me something more bearable. Though it might just as soon rip the roof of my house.
I can only sit and think so long before the BEEP-BEEP-BEEP chisels its way into my consciousness again. I press the snooze button and then think to myself a moment, that I have not slept in days before unplugging the goddamn thing altogether.
I shuffle my way down the hall and into the bathroom.
The light flickers on and instantly, I am bathed in sterile white light. I squint ever so slightly before looking at myself in the mirror; I am wearing the same clothes as yesterday, the same clothes I wore to work. My tie is loosely hanging around my neck, my plain white dress shirt Is wrinkled beyond belief, I run my hand over it once, doing up the last button.
I stare into the mirror and notice my face is covered with thick stubble, I scratch my neck and chin and then splash some cold water on myself and then lean in closer to the mirror and close my eyes for a few seconds. I open them suddenly and watch my pupils shrink quickly, adjusting to the light. I do it once more, and again, and again.
Eventually I hit the light switch and make my way back to the couch to grab my wallet and keys. They arenít there.
I check under all the cushions and find nothing but crumbs and a few coins. I leave them there.
Thinking maybe Iíll just walk, I place my hand on the doorknob of the entrance to my apartment and open it slowly in a futile attempt to adjust to the outside environment.
Iím hit all too fast with an immense summer heat and amazingly bright sunlight. I try and cover my eyes, but at the same time I canít help but look directly into that flaming ball in the sky. Not a single cloud dares to try and cover it today.
Great, I think to myself as I close the door behind me and take a step forward.
Before I know it Iím falling toward the earth at an extreme rate. I try and put my hand out to break my fall, but instead land awkwardly on my wrist.
I turn over onto my back and stretch my arms out across the small sidewalk onto the brown area that is my front lawn. I close my eyes and breathe a breath.
I listen to the world. I hear children laughing in the distance, enjoying the summer, enjoying life.
My mind floats away on me, and I begin to think about summer days of the past. When all that mattered was staying out as long as you could and enjoying the day, even if all you did was nothing at all. I remember playing on playgrounds, swimming in swimming pools and riding bikes all through town.
I begin to realize for the first time in my life, that I miss those days like I miss nothing else.
Eventually I open my eyes and am greeted by the burning sun again.
I sit up slowly, look behind myself and notice a pile of six or seven newspapers almost directly in front of my door.
I thank them quietly for the mouth full of pavement they tried to offer me before getting onto my feet and continuing down the sidewalk until I reach the main walk.
Glancing toward my car I notice something a little odd. My briefcase is sitting on the roof. I walk slowly toward the passenger side door and grab it. The hard black plastic handle burns my hand but I hold it tightly.
My gaze shifts from the roof down toward the car and into the window. My keys rest in the ignition.
How long have I been doing that? I wonder, but not for too long. I open the door and am hit with a sickening burst of heat that has been building up in the car. I do my best to ignore it and place my briefcase on the seat and them slam the door shut.
I wipe the sweat off of my forehead with my sleeve before walking around the car and getting into the drivers seat.
I start the car and it sounds like a small animal has just died a horrible death. Unfazed, I turn off the radio and reach for the air conditioning control and turn it to the high setting. The car fills quickly with the smell of stale hot air. At this point in time I remember my air conditioning does not work. It never has.
With the heat building up I undo the window. and rest my head on the steering wheel for a few moments before I pull away from the curb.
[The view from above]
Iím in the back of a cab on the way home. I stayed late, and by the time I stepped out into the humid darkness I felt it unsafe to be behind the wheel.
I donít remember checking to see if I locked my car door or not. At the moment it really isnít bothering me, nor is the fact that Iíll have to take another cab back to work in the morning.
The backseat is actually kind of peaceful. There are no worries back here.
I find myself staring out the window, past the roads, past the people, beyond the skyscrapers and miles past the stars. Iím wondering to myself why everything thus far in my life has felt like a dream.
I feel so detached from this earth. Like Iím somehow always floating inches off the ground, just far enough away from reality to make my brain the mess it sometimes feels like it is.
ďItís going to rainĒ the cab driver, a middle aged man, says suddenly, to no one in particular.
I donít reply. But inside Iím praying for it.
Resting my head against the cool glass of the window, I close my eyes to shield myself from the neon world Iíve never quite felt at peace with.
At this moment I miss everything Iíve never had.
[Catching a glimpse]
Some hours pass and Iím sitting alone in my living room.
I used to enjoy the silence, but this silence feels like the eerie calm after a nuclear explosion has leveled a city of thousands.
I donít like it.
The only sound is that of the clock on my wall.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.
It is in this silence, that with each passing second I realize just how much I miss sleep. I used to sleep simply to pass the time. There is no better thing then to just let yourself enter that world.
For whatever reason, though, Iíve been condemned to this one.
The tick-tock on the wall tells me it is a little past 3 AM. Grabbing a bottle of water, I open my front door, take a few steps, and then sit.
Night offers so much more comfort than the day. The cooler air, while still thick and humid, coats me like a comfortable blanket.
I lift myself onto the stoop and pull my knees close to my chest before resting my chin on top of them.
The world is sleeping.
I pour the bottle of water over my hands and then place them on my face. I can immediately feel the coolness spread over my entire body.
Somewhere out there, there has to be somebody else like me, somebody who feels backwards almost all of the time. Somebody who feels heís got to turn his skin inside out just so he can be a part of what everyone else is always scrambling to build and maintain.
There are skyscrapers dotting the skyline in the distance. The red lights on top seem to be in some kind of pattern, but I soon lose interest in trying to figure it out.
I can imagine myself on top of one of those buildings. Looking up at the sky, peering through thick clouds in order to catch a glimpse of the moon, it feels so close. Gusts of wind circle over me and I stretch my arms out before peering over the edge.
All I see is the neon below. Itís giving me a headache, so I step back from the ledge, and I sleep on the cool concrete.
When I was little, I used to always have dreams about jumping off of buildings. Some would call them nightmares, but I can assure you, the feeling of falling at your own free will is amazing. Even in a dream. You can feel the immense waves of nervousness and pleasure all fill your body at once, and then, nothing but peace. In this case, peace is a real feeling, just one that is impossible to explain.
When I reached the bottom, usually some busy city street, Iíd always wake up. I wouldnít be scared or confused, Iíd just replay it once or twice in my head, turn to my side and fall back asleep.
People find comfort in a lot of weird things. I guess that was mine.
I drink the rest of the water from my bottle and step back inside.
The clock now tells me it is 4:30 AM.
I sit on the couch and let the silence take me over. Itís been a long night.
Iím sitting in my car outside a convenience store trying to remember what it is I wanted to buy before heading to work, and swearing at the sun shining down on me.
Glancing out the window I see a girl in a parked car. her mascara is running down her face and sheís screaming at the top of her lungs, crying for all sheís worth. I canít hear anything, of course, but I can tell.
She continues sobbing uncontrollably and begins smashing her fist into the center of the steering wheel repeatedly.
For whatever reason, I cannot take my eyes off of her. The entire spectacle has me so enamored that I feel my eyes begin to water on account of me not blinking.
I open my car door and begin walking toward the store, keeping my eyes on the girl as I pass her car.
Iím hoping for some reason, that sheíll look up at me, but she doesnít.
Seconds later Iím in the store walking past rows of candy and pointless tabloid magazines. I pick up a package of gum and a bottle of water from a cooler.
Dragging my feet without realizing, I wait in line behind three other morning shoppers. My eyes seem to be incapable of focusing on anything not directly in front of me, so I stare at the ground instead.
I make my purchase using the loose change in my pocket and exit the store into the hot morning.
Immediately my eyes are glued back on the crying girl. From a distance she looks as if sheís hunched over dead. As I step into my car, I shoot a quick glance over. Sheís doing nothing but sobbing lightly.
Iím still staring at her when she throws a balled first down hard on the passenger seat and looks toward me for a brief moment before looking away altogether. Sheís beautiful. The crying girl starts her car, buckles her seatbelt and begins to back up without looking.
She stops suddenly and looks over at me. Iím still staring. A hint of anger dots her face at first, but it fades as she looks directly into my eyes. She looks amazed for an instant, it lasts only seconds before she drives away from me.
I wonder where sheís going.
Sitting at my computer I remain in this world as if by some freak accident. Iím here. I exist, yet I no longer feel a thing.
The rest of the world seems blacked out. People pass my desk every couple of minutes, sometimes they say something, but I never quite understand it. I lack the energy to look up at them or make any sort of audible reply.
Iím feeling the need to call it an early day even though I know the world will stay the same whether Iím stuck here or at home.
Eventually my boss notices my head hanging lower than usual and asks how Iím feeling. My reply is not audible. Without even asking, I am told to take the rest of the day off. ďGet some sleep and clean yourself upĒ were the exact reasons.
I suppose I should be glad.
Like another stab in the heart, my mind recalls yet another of my favourite dreams. Itís a dream in which I wake up under an incredibly gray sky and a cool breeze touches my skin. I wander over hillsides and paths before reaching the city. There is something odd about it and after a few moments of trying to figure it out- it hits me. Iím the only one here.
There is not a single car on the road or even one soul walking the streets. I remember at first feeling a sense of dread and then urgency. Urgent to find somebody else so that I might ask them what the hell is going on. It always fades, however, and Iím left standing amongst a forest of concrete and metal in which Iím the only truly living being. In a way it offers comfort that Iíve never been able to find elsewhere. I begin to feel thankful that things such as murder, rape, theft, war and greed no longer exist. I begin to feel at home.
This dream always ended just as I was willing to accept the new world and adapt to it.
I wonder if I could ever adapt to the world Iím currently stuck in.
I want to turn the television on to see if everyone is still with me, but I cannot find the remote control.
Somehow itís morning and little cracks of light stream through my covered window and directly on to my face. For a moment it feels good, but quickly begins to irritate me, so I stand up and walk to the kitchen.
I open the fridge to find it mostly empty, save for a few eggs and some orange juice. I close the door and stare at the phone for a few moments.
Something hits me and I decide to call my boss and tell him I wonít be coming in today, or tomorrow or the next. He seems only slightly surprised before asking why and when I might be coming back. Without responding, I hang up.
I walk back to the cough and throw myself down. A mixture of intense heat and light continues to sting my eyes. My face feels like itís on fire. I try closing my eyes, but it offers little help.
Staring at the roof, my mind begins to wonder. I think of the neon world and how I wish it could be turned off if only for a few seconds. My mind, like a piece of garbage caught in the wind, continues to flow everyway except the way I wish it would.
I think of the woman I saw in the parking lot days before. Has it really been that long? I recall the feeling inside me for the second she knew I existed. No other soul in this place has ever looked at me like that, I decide.
Itís as if my life has been a joke all along, like people have been paid and bribed to try and trick me- to try and form this bullshit world around me. Iím supposed to have bought into it by now, I think.
Itís no wonder I feel like Iím floating. Itís no wonder Iím alone. Itís no wonder my eyes cannot remain closed for more than three fucking minutes.
I donít exist here.
At this moment my eyelids feel as if theyíve been injected with lead, and I want nothing more to close them. I want the burning to stop. I want to feel at ease. I want to go home. Itís an idea that sounds all too perfect.
Buying into it, I close my eyes, and all at once, I disappear.
Written and Owned by Dan Chubaty