A Bad Day in Twelve Sentences.

I hate it when you’re so tired that you know you’re hungry, but aside from the occasional limp twinge, you can’t feel it, and it’s been a week of petty disappointments so you’re feeling sorry for yourself and feeling guilty about feeling sorry for yourself, and you’re in a foul mood and you just want to get to where you’re going, and someone falls into step next to you and looks at you, and you’re staring at the ground in front of you as hard as you can, thinking “if this guy talks to me, I’m going to have to resist the urge to hit him,” and the guy doesn’t take the hint and says, “hey, hey, excuse me, hey,” and then you have to talk to him and maintain a veneer, however fragile, of courtesy, and it turns out that what he wants is to bum a cigarette from you.  You can tell by the look on his face that when he looks at you, what he’s seeing is an openly antagonistic, sagging monster, eyes flat and black with hatred, not of him but of everything, of having to endure the simple state of being alive and conscious, and you wonder, is that who I really am?

You wait for the bus and it’s ten minutes late of course, and some woman cuts in front of you even though you’ve been standing in the same spot for fifteen minutes and you weren’t jumping on the bus because there’s a woman with a walker trying to exit.  You board, you sit down and you’re in this horrifying metal tube surrounded by people assaulting you with their voices, their odors, the eccentricities, and you have to pick the direction to look in that’s the least strange but will still prevent any eye contact, so you look at the emergency instructions in red letters on a little white plaque bolted to the seat in front of you and try desperately to not listen to any of the conversations around you because you are not well positioned to deal with anything chipper or banal at the present time.  And you can’t even figure out why you’re so anxious to get home, because it’s filthy and unpleasant to be there, surrounded by all of the things that you’re responsible for, but at least it has a door that you can use to shut everything else out.

You get off of the bus at your bus stop and you think that if you actually have to prepare your own dinner that you might just cry, so you go in to this horrible fast food sandwich shop that’s right near your house, and once you get up to the counter you are confronted by a grinning and upbeat teenager, and you realize that your smoldering rage has reduced you to such a bestial cognitive state that you have to marshal all of your discipline to accomplish something as simple as ordering a goddamn sandwich.  You watch with dead eyes as the sandwich is assembled and wonder if there is a single human being on this earth for whom six jalapeno slices on a twelve inch sandwich would possibly be enough, but you say nothing.  You just jam your teeth together until they squeak.

Once at the register, you sign the receipt and tuck the sandwich with six slices of jalapeno on it into your bag and suddenly you’re confronted by the youthful and bright eyed cashier telling you a story about how he saw a picture on the internet of a cat that had a white patch on it that looked just like a human skull, and how he’d seen cats with hearts and stars before but never a skull and you are staring uncomprehendingly at him with your mouth very slightly open, for so long that he starts to trail off and appear uncertain of what’s going to happen next, and you want to reach across the counter and grab him by the lapels and say, “look at my dead eyes, sir.  Do you understand what this means?  It means that life is meaningless and filled with despair and horror and we will all die and far too soon, and you and I are just rodents in fancy clothes.” But you don’t.  You say nothing.

So you walk the rest of the way home and your shoulders are starting to ache from the sourceless tension that you’re subjecting yourself to and you go inside and close the door that shuts everything else out, and close the windows and close the curtains and turn off the lights and turn off everything that might make noise at you, even unplugging the buzzing electric clock hanging on your wall, fully aware that you’ll need to reset it later and not caring, and you sit down with the sandwich with its six jalapeno slices and realize that you are utterly nauseated by the thought of eating this sandwich that you just spent money on, knowing that money would have bought three days worth of groceries and it seems like that might be the last indignity that you can put up with, so you sit in the dark and relative silence, surrounded by the things that you’re responsible for, and you say nothing.

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