Writing: A Last Day

I was inspired by my own semi ‘last’ day at work (for a while at least) and RUOK Day, both of which were this month.

I tried to put into words a few feelings I have had at times, at odd moments, and for no reason at all; I think they’re universal.

We’re all human—and feelings and emotions are very human to have. I wanted to capture the sporadic and sometimes intrusive nature of thoughts, the idea that they can be unrelated to the present moment, and finally, that dreams can inspire hope, meaning, and purpose.

I hope that some of that comes across in this piece I wrote up.

But anyway, just a musing. #suddenlyinspired 🙂

***

Writing: A Last Day

It was his last day.

The daily grind, he hoped, would come to mean an enthused coffee run, not another run of the mill day.

Cleaning his desk, he felt oddly sentimental. Piles of paper and accumulated junk had an overdue meeting with the bin.

His plan wasn’t to leave for good, nor was there really much of a plan in place. Unease coursed through him. Something he couldn’t place kept his mind unrelaxed, saturated with nostalgia. He wanted it to accept everything he’d done and hadn’t. His mind was refusing him. Trepidation about the future and hope that this time would be different were pavers for an anxiousness he couldn’t shake.

Maybe things would be different. Because, this time, they needed to be.

He finished the last bite of the Drumstick ice-cream he had fished out from his freezer stash.

It was proving to be a messy eat.

Caramel bits splayed over his desk. Chocolate smeared the documents at the top of a pile he wanted to obfuscate.

He chuckled.

Improving efficiencies and tastefully unorthodox solutions, that was what he was about.

The last words of a tired chapter of a book he had been ready to shelve he was coming to terms with.

Invisible rope had kept him from severing an unhealthy attachment to ideas and characters that had once set his world alight.

They had made him question things. They had made him smile, live, given​ him reasons to want.

Then the candle they had helped to light, flickered.

He felt their breath against the back of his neck, as if to test him, to wound him, little stabs at a time. To them, he smelled of weakness. How long until he would crumble in a heap? Silent rage, disappointment and frustration shadowed his interactions.

He caught his mind vetoing the pain of truth with ridiculous, made up excuses.

This, or that, or something else. He wasn’t a mind reader. There were always a million factors at play. A million perspectives and reasons to justify actions. No one was ever privy to everything. Passing judgment wasn’t his game.

He overcompensated. Patience, kindness, and being the bigger person, he could always be more. Maybe self-improvement was the answer. Maybe it was all in his head and he was a master at projecting; his ideas of who they were, skewed by a naive, sickly saccharine view of the world.

Still, where had they been in the moments he had needed them? They had stunned him; Houdini acts they executed with polish.

It was wicked and caustic.

**

He began feeding documents to the shredder.

But they had changed his view of the world. They had added to his narrative and good had come out of it; he could not be ungrateful.

They had been comfortable, worn jeans; and now they were faded, full of holes, wearing on him.

He found himself on autopilot; mindlessly operating the shredder, pupils glued to the view outside his window.

Endless blue skies and a blue man in a suit. Harmonious and discordant and all shades of a painfully unfunny contradiction.

His mind and body craved renewal.

The gentle caress of the wind through his hair. Her softness inspiring the trees to dance and the spring in his step. Her warmth against his chest, the ferocity of her glare singeing his skin. Her magnificence leaving him in admiration and awe.

He pictured his hands releasing the weight of the world, exchanging it for much more.

He imagined life taking him in, permitting his exploration of her, intoxicating his senses.

She was delicate up close: vulnerable and raw, the glistening petals of a flower, the unbounded​ innocence of a child, the unpredictability and intensity of a storm.

She was holding on to him with tenderness.

She was disrobing him; peeling open his heart, coaxing the boy inside to give life a chance once more.

Her, life, instinct was begging him to protect.

He swore as a staple pierced his thumb.

She would be his sunrises and sunsets.

His mornings and his nights. His water; his wine.

She existed in the vastness of the ocean; the stars he gazed upon, as his eyes salted his cheeks.

She was his present and his future.

With her, new stories would write themselves.

Good, bad, adventurous, painful, happy, tearful, unworldly, blissful fantasies of what it meant to be alive painted his dreams like emboldened, abstract colours on canvas.

‘What do you really want?’ interrupted a voice.

The annoyingly enthusiastic guy from Administration was doing his rounds for charity.

‘A Peppermint Crisp or a Cherry Ripe?’ Felix asked.

He dug out two-dollars from the drawer and took the Peppermint Crisp.

‘Thank you, sir. All for a good cause.’

He didn’t mind Felix. Chirpy was always polite, at least.

His question was well-timed. What did he want?

More chocolate—no.

Her—She was the what, the who, and the why he desired.

A part of him was aching to discover her. He wouldn’t stifle his passion this time.

Come what may, he would let it be and he would see her through.

He would change. Or grow. Or adapt. Or whatever she needed.

There was half a stack of paper to go. The shredder had jammed.

He sighed, inspected the machine and began pressing buttons. He tried turning it on and off—twice. Error messages and sharp teeth designed for cutting were beyond the call of duty, especially on a last day.

Time to call IT.

He waited in the break room and poured himself a glass of cold milk, as he was swallowed by thoughts.

He had tried not to have expectations of anything or anyone.

No expectations meant there could be no disappointment.

At least that was the idea. He was too bloody human for it to have worked.

Expectations were merciless beasts, taunting him by their presence, reminding him why he was unworthy. Reasons why others could expect things of him, but never he of them, made themselves known.

The beasts were unkillable.

He had tried being stoic, and then he had come across as cold. He had tried not to care, but he had ended up caring too much. He had tried to be emotionless, and then he’d appeared removed and uninterested. None of it was true.

He had tried to see things from different points of view, tried to empathise, accept, understand, put judgment aside, put everyone else first.

All this until he had abdicated as dictator of his life.

He snorted the milk feeling disgusted.

‘All fixed, champ. I’ve swapped it out for the next model. Freakin’ degenerated old thing with a heap of problems, the E300s. Bit like my mother-in-law,’ chortled a stocky man, slapping him playfully on the back, ‘Works just like the old one. Back to business.’

The whirring of the X500 was white noise to his wandering mind. The new machine was smoother, and faster. It was a bleak thought: machines replacing machines replacing humans. The day was coming, eventually.

His ship had sailed directionless. Shards of a broken compass had ripped through his confidence. The weight of his own expectations had taken the wind from his sails.

He had distracted himself, hidden behind a false laughter and a cheeriness that wasn’t him. Less funny things became funny on better days, and awkward silences on a less good ones.

He gave in too much, too often. Self-deprecation had become a clutch. He made humour of his inadequacies. Making others laugh was a noble venture. Better they than him.

He convinced himself of things, of truths that weren’t, of imagined realities to forget the real ones. The attempts to quell a restlessness that wouldn’t settle remained just that: attempts.

It couldn’t be like that. Not any more. It could not be his forever. Not when life was waiting for him.

The battle to reclaim his throne started now. His last day of caving, of being too nice, of being too kind, of setting himself alight to keep enemies at bay had come to pass.

He was a candle that was well and truly burnt out.

He stepped away from the shredder and took a breath as it devoured the last piece from the stack.

There were no more papers to shred.

New chapters were desperate with a desire for him to fill their pages with his ideas and characters. They wanted to embrace him for all that he was, for all that he wasn’t. To know what he was like when he was all in. When he poured all of himself in, when he let go, and when he was himself, uninhibited and free.

When he let himself be, they would be there for him, without obligation or expectation; because they wanted to be.

The clock struck five.

He unloosened his tie and stuffed it into his backpack.

His heart skipped a beat.

Life was there. He could feel her.

He would keep her waiting​ no longer.

***

© enchirist 2018

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