Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Struggle

            James stared out his apartment window and squinted against the winter sun. He looked up at the lazy clouds drifting across a turquoise sky. It was peaceful yet it didn’t touch him. He was so far away from its basic natural beauty. He wasn’t a part of it. It was something that was going on somewhere else. It was an abstract that he couldn’t wrap his tired mind around. His stomach growled and he remembered that at some point he’d have to eat, but even that seemed like a hassle.  

             The sunlight streaming through the window felt like a laser on James’ face. It was hot and uncomfortable. It made James feel annoyed. It was too hot for a winter sun. He stepped away from the hot sun and the window and looked around at the same old stuff in his apartment. It was unchanged. As if it were a photograph from some terrible scrapbook. It was another day. Another hour. Another mortal coil. James thought about praying for help. He thought that maybe asking God for some kind of sign, something to help him realize that everything didn’t suck. Then he remembered that God didn’t work like that, at least not since the Old Testament.

             James entered his kitchen and looked at the pile of dishes in his sink. He figured he’d have to wash those before he could eat. He was out of spoons and forks. He still mindlessly went to the fridge and opened the door. He stared at the nothing inside. There were radishes, carrots, one egg, old bologna, three slices of cheese, garlic pickles, and a giant polish sausage. James sighed and closed the door. He left the kitchen and slowly dragged himself through his dining room toward the living room. He sat on the couch and decided on a cigarette for breakfast.

             He inhaled and wondered about the unknown depths of existence. He exhaled and the smoke drifted up through the streaming sunlight. The blue smoke slowly danced up toward the windows and blanketed the old, unchanged items in the room. James thought of tango dancers as the smoke swirled from an unseen breeze blowing in from one of the many drafty old windows. The smoke plumes dipped and spun until they vanished into whatever nothing existed at the microscopic level.

             A fire truck screamed down the street and James woke from his waking dream. The dogs next door started howling in mimicry of the wailing sirens. James felt himself getting sadder with each passing minute and yet he didn’t think there was any way he could really explain this sadness. To himself or anyone else for that matter. It just lived in him, wetting the corners of his eyes. He smashed the cigarette out in the ashtray and stood up. He stretched, cracked his back, and moved back toward the windows.

             He imagined a woman. A beautiful woman getting off the bus. A woman that wanted him. He wanted to see her. He wanted her in his arms. He wanted to tell her, any her, that he was there for her and he was okay and she would tell him that as long as she was with him she’d never let him get so down. She’d support him and subtly encourage him without being a nag or judge him when he failed.

            James squinted against the sunlight.

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