Selfcology

The alarm went off and he opened his eyes slowly. His sight was blurred but from habit he knew right where the alarm clock was and without looking he hit the off button. Then, with a fluid motion he moved his hand from the clock on the nightstand next to his bed to his bedpost. He felt his way up until he found where the wooden bedpost met perpendicularly with the cross bar. He then located the small, thin leather strap and lifted it over the bedpost. He sat up and dropped the thin leather necklace over his head. He could feel it catch his neck as the small silver cross lightly tapped his chest.
He swung his feet over the side of the bed, dragging the covers with them. Slowly he stood and walked over to his dresser. First he put on a pair of loose fitting jeans. Then he put on a white t-shirt and ran his fingers through his hair. He put on socks as he walked over to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror he realized that his brown hair was getting a little longer than he liked it and made a mental note to go by the barber shop that day. He ran his hand over the beard that seemed to be coming in. He turned the faucet on and let the water collect in the sink. Then he scooped some water on his face and turned off the faucet as he waited for the water to clear his face, eyes shut tight.
When he opened his eyes he took account of the man in the mirror. He stared into his own grey eyes for a second, wondering if anyone else could see through him as easily as he could. As always he decided that they probably could and upon that note, left the bathroom. Upon arriving back in his bedroom he walked over to the dresser once more and took a fist full of money from a pile in the corner. Shoving this in his pocket, he continued out of room, through the small living room/kitchen, to the door. There he slid on his boots and unhooked his coat from the back of the door, a long, grey coat that almost touched the ground when he wore it, then draped a wool scarf around its collar.
He reached for the handle of the door, but forgot that he needed his keys, so he went back to his bedroom and looked on his dresser for the keys that should have been there. They weren’t of course; they never were. He didn’t know why he always thought they were there… wishful thinking perhaps. He told himself every morning while looking for them to put them on the dresser when he got back, but he was usually too tired to remember his morning frustration and put them there when he got home.
He finally found them; under the bed somehow. He didn’t have time to try to remember how they ended up there. He went back to his door, half running, and scooped up his sunglasses from the kitchen counter on the way. These he put on as he unlocked and opened the door. He closed it behind him and locked it. Then he made his way down the stairwell which his door opened up to.
It was a small, cramped little building that he called home. It was a miracle it wasn’t yet condemned. The whole thing was the color of rust, but there was no metal in the building. There were only two light bulbs left that actually worked in the stairwell and they were on constantly. The stairs themselves were weak and sometimes a plank would give way. That he knew of, no tenants were yet to be hurt though. Once he wondered why the landlord didn’t fix the place a little, but he decided that he didn’t really care enough to think about it any further and he hasn’t since. All in all he was thankful to have the place to live, and the conditions didn’t bother him as much as it did the others. After all, what could be done?
He continued down the stairs, making his way over the missing planks as he went. When he reached the ground floor he continued out the front entrance. Outside, the sun had barely just risen. It was quiet, as it always was at that early hour.
He looked left and saw a few people, most likely making their way to work, as he was. Then he looked right and saw a couple more people doing the same, like every other day. Was every day the same? He thought back over the days, months, and years that all blended together. It was painful to know that today was like every other. He was about to take a step down the stairs but stopped himself. Maybe he wouldn’t go to work this day. This day could be different from the rest, even if the all the rest would be the same.
He walked down the steps that lead to the street, looked left, the direction of his job, and then turned right and started walking. Maybe he would go downtown or to the statue by the park. It didn’t matter where he went, anywhere would do. He was feeling hungry; maybe he would go to a diner for breakfast.
The cold wind flowed through the cities’ canyons, and he noticed it for the first time as it began to take an effect on him. He adjusted his coat in an attempt to cut down on the cold, but it only worked for a little while. Fall in the city was harsh. He looked up but couldn’t see the sky through the grey blanket that covered the heavens. He tried to ignore the weather and started to take notice of the people he passed as he continued his way down the street.
What drove them? Why were they up at this hour? Why was this man drinking from a hose, and what was that woman listening to on her headphones. What brought each one to this spot right now as he passed them and what would they do after he had left? Such things were futile to think about and only served to feed his imagination and pass the time.
As time did go by however, as time always seems to do, he began to turn his thoughts to himself. He found a small diner on the corner of two streets whose names he didn’t notice and went inside. He found himself a seat near the back and began to think about things like why he was the way he was and where he was going in life. As he did so, he saw more and more that he was unhappy and had been for some time.
At first this fascinated him. He hadn’t noticed it up to that point. How could you be unhappy and not notice it? In exploring his thoughts and feelings he shut out the world around him. His findings dragged him deeper, brought up more questions to be answered. He never before thought it impossible to not know one’s self, but was beginning to see how it might be possible.
He was brought out of his head by the waitress, who asked for his order. He asked her for a cup of coffee as he took off his sun glasses and placed them on the table; she left and he began to think again, but not about the same thing. He was lax to get back into such seriousness with himself again so soon. He did find it interesting, but wanted to mentally pace himself if you will.
Instead, he looked around at his surroundings for a while. The place had green wallpaper that made it look extremely bleak. It was fairly busy and he assumed the place did well for itself. The place was shaped like an “L” and from the corner he sat in he couldn’t see the kitchen or for that matter much of the rest of the diner. He took notice of a rather twitchy man sitting close to the entrance, and a child playing with what looked like their grandmother. Outside it was a little brighter, but the clouds still did much to cut out the sun. Then the waitress came back with his coffee and she once again broke his concentration.
He thanked her for the coffee and declined when she asked him if he wanted anything else. As she left, he started fixing the coffee how he liked it and began delving back into his personal investigation. He thought back to where he assumed his life started to go wrong, his childhood. He was never the most popular kid in high school, but he did have a lot of friends, and no one ever admittedly hated him. He certainly wasn’t anti-social; he knew everyone and everyone knew him just fine. What had changed?
He finally came to the conclusion that it was the lost opportunities that made him most sad. He remembered taking piano lessons as a kid, and that he quit for some stupid reason, like he thought it was boring or un-cool. If he had stuck with it he could be something today. But not necessarily things like that; then again, maybe that’s all life was. Just a handful of situations where he undid his future due to his own short sightedness. Maybe he wasn’t unpopular in high school, but he certainly feared being so, and that ruled his attitude his whole life. Was not being liked so bad? Maybe not, he thought; not now anyway. But still…
He sipped his coffee and pushed his thoughts aside for a moment as the hot liquid found its way to his stomach and took its effect and began warming him. He pushed the cup aside then and rested his head in his hands, rubbing his eyes with his palms. He could quit his job. He could just get up and leave one day, never go back. It wasn’t that he needed a change, he just needed… he needed to feel that he was doing something with his life. He wasn’t sure how to make living worth it though. He did, however, know that he needed money to do it, and that’s one thing he never really had.
Then again, maybe that wasn’t it at all. Maybe he didn’t need to do something worth while for himself, but rather for others. Or maybe he just wanted others to take recognition of what he did, and respect him for it. He could be an artist or something like that. He never could draw though. He sent in one of those applications where you draw the cartoon and get it rated by a panel of judges or something, but they told him he had no talent. He didn’t like writing, and if he tried that he would probably make things worse for himself.
He was serious about changing his life and turning it around though. He was sick of letting it all go by without him making an impact. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain. He wanted to be the person who could make things happen rather than the one who accepted what he was given. He realized that he couldn’t answer most of the questions he asked himself but it didn’t matter, he would change his life and he didn’t care if he had to die trying. All the answers would come eventually and he believed at that moment that he could do anything and that he really would turn his life around.
He finished his coffee and looked for the waitress but he couldn’t see her. He would wait for the check and then go; where he didn’t know, probably home. He was boring himself with just thinking everything over. He decided that when he got home he would convince the landlord to fix the building before someone hurt them self. He was kind of nervous just thinking what might happen and contemplating every word that he might say, but he tried to put that feeling aside. That was noble. He would be saving some one from injury and they would all praise him for it. He took a few seconds to imagine their gratitude toward him for convincing the landlord to change his ways as well. As he thought of his future glory he grew all the more sure of himself. Eventually though, he got tired of waiting for the waitress.
He got up to see what was keeping his waitress and as he walked toward the bend in the building he noticed that all the tables he could see were empty. When he finally did round the corner he discovered the cause. In front of the counter there was a man, the same twitchy man who he noticed by the entrance earlier, and he was pointing a gun at the waitress behind the counter. She was putting money from the register in a bag, and he was clearly unhappy with the way she was fumbling with it. Everyone else was lined up against the wall and they came into view as he rounded the corner. The man holding the gun didn’t notice him, as his back was turned in his direction, but everyone else certainly did. They were all staring at him as he let what was happening sink in. He didn’t know what to do. His adrenaline kicked in and he felt his knees grow weak. The staring eyes were burning into him as forever passed in a second. They were pleading with him, begging him to do something. Could he stop the robber? The man would either never see him coming or he would turn and shoot. His mind raced and he struggled to grab a hold of something, anything. He needed to tell his body to do something and quick.
Finally, without actually reaching a conscious decision, his body bolted for the door. He flung it open and ran as fast as he could down the street, his mind still racing. What was he doing? What the hell just happened? He just couldn’t figure out what he just did or what he was doing. He was tired of everything and at that moment just wanted to be anywhere else but where he was, so he kept running. He ran until he couldn’t feel his legs any more and kept going. He had never run so far in his whole life and it hurt, but the pain made the confusion go away.
When he had finally stopped he found himself bent over and gulping down air. When he came to his senses he found that he was a block from his building. Without thinking about anything else he dragged himself down the side walk. When he reached his building he went inside and hobbled up the stairs. When he made it to his door, he woke up from his stupor, not really recalling anything from the moment he started walking until now, but not really caring at the same time.
He slid the key into the lock, turned it, opened the door, then took the keys out again and closed it behind him as he entered the small apartment. He kicked off his boots and hung up his coat and scarf. He reached for his sunglasses which he assumed were on the top of his head, but when he didn’t find them he suddenly remembered that he left them on the table at the diner. He felt the tension leave his shoulders as he cursed his stupidity. He was too tired to regret what had happened this day, although he was sure he would. It wasn’t even noon yet, but he found himself to be completely exhausted and he didn’t care enough to wonder why.
He walked into his bed room, and as he passed his dresser he dropped his keys on top. He smiled a weak smile and said “well, at least that’s something.” Then he walked to the side of his bed, lifted the necklace off his head and dropped over the bed post. He collapsed onto his bed which lifted him off it for a second and brought him back down again with a slightly softer landing. He closed his eyes and tried to push it all away. Nothing changes, he thought. Nothing ever changes and nothing ever will, was all he could think. So he fell asleep, woke up, and nothing ever did.

Selfcology

Chris Hubbard

New Jersey, United States

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

I wrote this a while ago, and I like it even if it does need work….

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life story

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  • bree787
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