• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 03
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Why is it like this?

There’s a certain rush, he knows, facing the day with particular expectations; knowing it will go wrong.

Today it was the shopping centre escalators. It was the usual route he goes day-in, day-out: through the centre, down the escalator, and outside to his bus stop, where the 193 bus that brings him to work is waiting.

But today the route was obstructed. The escalator was closed for repairs. Naturally, he threw his hands up in despair. Walking his usual swift pace, he changed direction suddenly, then stopped abruptly, not knowing the quickest alternative route. He was definitely going to be late to the office. And it wouldn’t be the first time this week.

“Fuucck!!” he meant to say under his breath, but did so rather loudly.

He realised he must have looked strange, spinning around and flailing his arms about while shouting expletives. But that didn’t give people the right to look at him like that. Fuck them all, they don't know what it’s like. They don’t know what he’s been through. He cursed them all, and he cursed the shopping centre staff for letting this happen. Eventually, he reached the bus stop just in time to see bus pull away.

His day was ruined earlier than usual.

At work he was accosted by his manager, Paul, immediately upon entering the office, his voice dripping in fake joviality.

“Alright, buddy?” he said brightly. “Sleep it out again, wha?”

“It’s not my fucking fault!”


Why is it like this?

“Whoa, okay,” replied Paul, laughing, but clearly uncomfortable. “I’m only having a laugh. You know we’re not strict on when you come in, as long as you make up the hours.”

He doesn’t believe this to be true, they’re just saying it to trick him. He often sees Sharon from accounting swanning in at mad times. But she’s good-looking; she probably got away with murder. He, on the other hand, isn’t so blessed.

The day continued thus: his computer kept updating and restarting; his pen broke; he stubbed his toe on the photocopy machine; he got served cold coffee; Paul kept being fake-nice to him, asking if everything was all right. Prick.

He needs a drink after a day like that. He needs one at the end of everyday lately. He savours the mellow rush in all its briefness. It makes him feel ready to face the inevitable mountain of shit that would be the next day, and the next day, and the day after that. It helps him sleep. It also helps him wake up suddenly at 4 a.m., when he stares morosely at the ceiling, tortured by thoughts of his life to come.

Someone once told him that life is about perception. It’s not what happens to us, but our outlook that’s most important. He should try be more positive, they said. But they are the words of someone born fortunate. That is a luxury for the lucky. He is not a pessimist – he is a realist.

Change is impossible.