We Took on the Day and We Lost

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
depression and its loveliness

Submitted: September 06, 2013

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Submitted: September 06, 2013

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Its 5:36 p.m. and he opens the door to his small dingy looking apartment which is supposed to be lit by the rectangular window perpendicular to the old but clean looking brown couch, but the window nor the blinds have been open in weeks maybe months, and it seemed as though he didn’t care the darkness and staleness didn’t seem to bother him. It wasn’t on his mind it seemed as though there was a far more pressing issue on his mind, but he always seemed that way. Very serious in his face, not unfriendly, but always seemed as though he didn’t look like he was enjoying himself, which he wasn’t. Anybody who would have paid even the least bit of attention to him would have realized the almost permanent look of disappointment on his face was not put on intentionally, but really as a reflection of his feelings, he was alone, and he knew this.

 He had work colleagues who always didn’t mind his company, he was a person that you not only tolerated but almost enjoyed because of his non confrontational demeanor, and ability to see any side in almost every confrontation. He was a person who was liked but forgotten as soon as he left the room. He was unsure if he liked this persona, but realized that’s the way it was, so never really made any attempts to change it. His life had become a mind numbing routine, one where there was no joy, but really no pain either. He thought about life a lot, but never coming to a definitive conclusion on how to improve himself, he never planned to change it. It was mind numbing, but not hurtful, it was safe.

After arriving home always around 5:30ish, he would then go to the bathroom to relieve himself, check the fridge retrieve a beer sit on the far right side of brown couch, which he’d bought at goodwill, when he bought his apartment 3 years ago. He would drink two in an hour and then when he finished the second would proceed to heat up a microwaveable meal, which he always had stockpiled in his freezer. After eating his meal and drinking another beer and clearing his plate, he would go to the bathroom and brush his teeth so not forgetting to do it before he fell asleep, which most nights was on his brown couch sitting up, in the same position he had been in since he got home. This was his routine, the T.V was his consoler. He remembered in his younger years he would consistently flip through the channels when a commercial came on, and he would flip the channels really with no other show in mind, that he was searching for but would zone out and not have any thoughts until he got to something familiar usually sports that he would leave on and presumably begin the whole process over again. Now when the commercials came on, he would “zone out” but without the process of flipping through channels, that before was necessary for his adolescent mind to reach this almost pre-comatose state he would enter, a state of nothingness, but one that could be broken out of easily, and on command.

Its now 2:17 a.m. his movement since he got home was a change of which leg was being stretched out from his right to his left, while his other leg stayed in a rigid angle with his bare foot rested firmly on the cold tile floor, his slouching allowed the back of his head to completely rest against the worn out spot where his head had laid so many times before this, and for such long periods of time, for the last three years. This was his normal position, sometimes he’d have both legs stretched out and his hands folded resting on his stomach, this was the other pose he would take, normally when he was tired, which would usually be the day after his sleepless nights. His mind never really felt the tiredness, but consciously knew that he needed to sleep so he helped lull his mind by fidgeting into a more comfortable position which would always end up being this laid out pose, but his head would always be in the same depression on the couch, he never thought about it, he never thought that it might be more comfortable if he placed his head elsewhere, it never even crossed his mind. For a man whose whole life was comfort and ease not realizing that his head could be more comfortable, was strange, and peculiar, but for a man who lived so much of his life by blind routine, it wasn’t that shocking, but still peculiar.

2:23 a.m. He hadn’t paid attention to the television since The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson had ended at 1:37 a.m. He felt a draft come form under the couch which he gently blew against his right foot that was planted on the ground, he stretched not think anything of it, but did look behind himself on the couch, he had the urge to get off the couch and do something, he wasn’t sure what, anything he thought, but before he could complete his incomprehensible thoughts which were similar to the thoughts people have the few seconds after they wake up, which are usually forgotten immediately after they happen, with no exception here. An ad came on the T. V for an over the phone sex chat.

As he watched the pictures of voluptuous women talking on the phone in suggestive poses and smiling fakely, he thought nothing like he normally did when he was younger once the commercials came on, and how he did now, when he watched television period. But he didn’t know why he was watching so intensely, he had no conscious thoughts but, he was engaged, incredibly engaged, so it seemed almost second nature when he picked up his old flip phone which he had since he was 17, and has probably been used in the 9 years by him as much as some 17 year old girls use theirs in probably a week, he called the chat’s number. After the first two rings he realized what he did, and felt incredibly anxiety, he had no idea what to expect, although anxiety filled most of him, there was also a slight tint of excitement, especially in his voice as, a sexy voice asked him his credit card information, which he gave up with a half smile on his face. Not realizing consciously that he was smiling, still not really thinking, not like the way he thought of nothing when he was watching television though, it seemed as though a sudden rush of thoughts overwhelmed his mind, and went back to its normal state of complacency and comatose. As he was transferred to one of the girls, he had a strong urge to hang up the phone, but with the sudden rush of thoughts to his mind the excitement, gained some leverage in its wrestling match with anxiety, and became the dominant feeling, and made him refuse the urge to hang up.

A lady answered in a soft voice, which sounded like a loud whisper saying “Hey there, what’s your name?”

He paused for which seemed like a lot longer then the 15 seconds it took for her to say “hello are you there?”

This seemed to peak something in him, a sudden feeling of disparity filled him, and he said “yes sorry” in a weak voice, one that seemed like he had just gotten out of a funeral for a loved one. She ignored the distress in his voice and continued trying to engage him, which she knew from her training was the main objective in her chats, because minutes mean dollars so she wants to get him talking, and peak his interest.

“Where are you from sweetie?” she said in a surprisingly motherly tone, he didn’t respond again, not knowing why, perhaps a realization of what he was doing on here came to his mind, and he was having second thoughts.

But he wasn’t.

She was beginning to get frustrated at this point, not wanting another shy guy, which made her have to work, see she was similar to him in this regard that they both tried to do things as simple as possible, pain free. She liked having the guys who would ask her questions in which she could say “yeah” or “uh huh” or giggle and say “no” which was important, she wanted the customer to feel like he was in control, she wanted them to be the dominant one in the conversation, because that is the easiest for her, and breeds the longest conversation.

She said “sweetie are you still there?” after 20 seconds this time

This time he responded with some more power in his voice, a bit more confidence, probably from the comfort that he was getting from her calling him sweetie, something he enjoyed ever since a waitress called him that one time in the middle of one of those sleepless nights he had. He wound up getting out of the house and going to a coffee shop, an urge much similar to the one he got that made him call the sex chat line. The waitress was kind to him, even though he only ordered a cup of coffee, and she realized that her tip from a cup of coffee wasn’t going to be worth her while. After he’d finished his coffee she was promptly over there offering him a refill, he would have normally refused, not wanting to overstay his welcome, afraid that she wanted him to go, because he wasn’t ordering a lot. But he accepted, after this she sat at the booth with him, and said he looked sad and what was wrong, he weakly smiled as he had learned to do when a personal question that made him uncomfortable came up to soften the impact of it, he said nothing and that he was fine. But she didn’t buy it at all, she asked him again without a change in her expression, one that only wanted to help, and wasn’t joking, and who wasn’t amused by his halfhearted smile. He paused for a moment and observed her he first saw her thin face which had some forehead wrinkles, but she couldn’t be much over 30, he then saw her brown hair, which had lost volume with the stresses in her life, which she now pulled back into a tight, but not well kempt ponytail, which had a few loose hairs straying out. He wondered if she was self conscious that she seemed older then what she really was, and was probably a result of her two small children that she had with a man named Chad, whom he overheard some not so nice things being said about him when she was at the cash register with another waitress. He then looked into her eyes, which were staring very intensely at him, he noticed that the green seemed faded, again from the stresses in her life, he felt bad for this women, who was gorgeous even in her waitress uniform and no makeup on, he could only imagined what she must have looked like when she was younger and not burdened with the responsibilities she now had. She had a bright future, and now is working in a coffee shop, not married and two kids, and then he felt shame in himself that he wasn’t giving her an answer and making her wait. He tried his best most caring voice he could have and said, “really, I’m fine”. He knew she didn’t believe him, she got up and said “alright” and walked away, never to ask again. He then immediately regretted not telling her everything about himself, pouring his heart out, but then soon realized, how pathetic it was, and soon found guilt in wanting to burden this kind women with a story of himself, a sad and lonely person. He felt shameful, and got up with an incredibly tight knot in his throat, that you get before someone cries. He quickly place d a 50-dollar bill on the table for the $1.25 cup of coffee and left the restaurant in a blur, on his way home, he did not cry, but the knot remained, he would not feel pity for himself. When he got home he sat on the couch with both legs stretched out and his hands folded on his stomach and didn’t sleep.

 

With the new found confidence in his voice he said to her ”yeah I’m here sorry, I’m just a little nervous”

To this she was relieved; for this sentence had been uttered to her numerous time before and she knew almost robotically how to respond to him. She said “there is nothing to be worried about baby, I’m your friend, we are just going to have some fun, what’s your name?”

With this he froze, all of the strength he had, suddenly left him, he felt dizzy, and disoriented, he couldn’t see straight, and had the incredibly tight knot in his throat again, he couldn’t respond, but he wanted to with all his might, but he knew he could not speak, 30 seconds went by, nothing was said, she was irate at this point, knowing that she couldn’t hang up and try someone else, because she would be fired if she ever hung up, so she waited impatiently, another 10 seconds went by, and as she was just about to open her mouth to say “hello” in an agitated tone, hoping he would hang up, she heard him say “Are you happy?” she was bewildered not knowing what to say, unsure of what to say, never having to answer personal questions about herself before, it threw her out of her comfort zone, and into a vulnerable position, she had grown accustomed to answer vulgar questions, but this; she had no idea how to answer and responded with a weak “I didn’t hear you” hoping he would change his question, but as soon as she uttered that lie almost like he had been waiting for what she said he said again with a lot of conviction, a voice that intimidated her, not mean sounding, nut powerful, a conviction in a man’s voice that she had not heard ever before. She paused again, her mind racing and feeling uncomfortable, he then said

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable” (he sensed his defeat and was willing to give up) he said, “I’ll hang up now”

She squealed a “wait!” another brief pause, which seemed excoriatingly long. “I don’t know” she uttered, “I guess”

“What did you want to be when you grew up?”

“An actress, you?”

“A sex chat operator”

“Hey! Ha-ha”

“Ok maybe that was only as a teenager, I really wanted to be a firefighter”

“You sound like a firefighter”

“Ha-ha, really, how so?”

“I don’t know like you just sound very confident”

“Oh ha-ha I’m not normally”

“Really?”

“Yeah, who was your favorite actress as a child?”

“Oh my gosh I’m embarrassed”

“Ha-ha why?”

“It was Roseanne Barr”

“No way! Ha-ha”

“Its true, I loved that show!”

“No it was a good show, ha-ha, so how did you get into your line of work?”

“Well, I moved away from home to Los Angeles once I graduated high school, and I went to a million different auditions, and didn’t get a call back, like literally for a year I was going to any audition I could get, so when I got turned down for a foot ointment commercial, I gave up on acting and called my friend who also works for this company and got a job doing this”

“Do you like it?”

“I mean, yeah you meet some interesting people, most of the time they are just talking about their dick (laughs) but it’s not bad”

“Do you wish you would have stuck with acting?”

“Umm, I don’t know, maybe some days, but, I wasn’t getting anywhere, with it, so I just wanted to stop failing”

“I think you should have stuck with it”

“(Nervous laugh) yeah I don’t know, I don’t like to really stir the pot too much, you know I don’t want to try and fail, Id just like things to be easy, and right now this is easy”

“I know what you mean”

“So yeah I mean it kind of sucks some days, but when you look back at your life, how many people are really proud of what they accomplished?”

“Probably not many”

“Exactly, so like whatever dreams move on and we move on, I’m content”

“Are you happy?”

She didn’t know what to say. She was caught off guard with this question again, but somehow knew it wouldn’t go away, she froze, she couldn’t speak. 10 seconds went by, 15, 20, 25, at 30 she thought about what this mysterious caller might look like, 35, she thought he’d definitely be tall, with plain clothes, and very well kempt hair, she thought he’d be very clean, but also have a kind face, one that was always smiling, she thought he might have a lot of friends, and didn’t know why someone who sounded so confident, would be calling a sex chat line. 35. She was intrigued by this man, and briefly forgot about the extremely personal question that she felt uncomfortable about, 40, she asked, “what’s your name?” Almost immediately after those words rolled off her tongue, he asked her again, “Are you happy?” She was shocked, she had a knot in her throat, she started shedding tears, she knew the answer now, she had been hiding from it all this time, she had never felt so alone, she didn’t know what to say, she wanted to cry, but she couldn’t, the knot in her throat kept her from speaking, after 30 seconds of silence, she heard him breathe in deeply, she knew what was coming, she didn’t know how to respond, he said again “are you happy?”

She hung up.

He sat there with the phone next to his ear, listening to the ring of a call that has been disconnected by the opposite party he sat there motionless for an unknown amount of time with the phone held against his ear.

After she did this she collapsed onto her couch, she wasn’t happy, and she couldn’t even say anything, she lay curled up on her left side, staring at a bouquet of flowers sitting on her coffee table from her father for her birthday, she got them yesterday, and loved them, she bought a vase for them and couldn’t wait to have a party to display them to her friends, but she didn’t think about any of that at this time, she lay there curled up, sobbing and staring at one flower that missed her attention yesterday, probably caught up in her own excitement. One of the violets was wilting, it was dying, and had no way for it to be saved she thought to herself, she didn’t sleep that night she just lay there thinking about the dying flower, and her own unhappiness, he didn’t cross her mind once. She cried until morning.

With his phone pressed against his ear, he sat their, in comatose, just like he’d been during the commercials as a child, and when he watched television as an adult, but, here he didn’t have a blank mind, he had a mind that was occupied, a mind that thought about her, he’d never met her, he’d never have a chance to meet her, never. He would live the same life he had. He put the phone down, and stared at the beer bottle on his coffee table that was next to the empty sleeping pill bottle his doctor prescribed to him. They weren’t empty when the conversation started, he then stared next to all of the pill capsules that had been cut in half, and the powder that was supposed to help him sleep was deposited into the half empty beer, he drank the beer, and slept.


© Copyright 2018 Hunter Andela. All rights reserved.

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