The time ticked as 11:03am at the bottom corner of her computer screen.
Some inner urge moved her to shut all her tabs and hit ‘hibernate’ in the turn off box Windows gave her as options.
‘d’ and ‘c’ are completely worn away on her keyboard, and her memory serves to know which key is the ‘n’ and which is the ‘m’ ”“ they’ll get obliterated next. Better than how the ‘o’ is stuck now, giving her “ooooo” each time she touches it, no matter how lightly. At least it still works, for she’d tired of her game to use only words without the well-rounded letter. It had been amusing though.
She sat for a moment in her sudden realization she’d never hit that ‘hibernate’ option before, wondering what it actually did. Ironic; if pixels could get worn down same as keyboard keys, that ‘hibernate’ button would surely be the remaining beacon before her computer gave up for good, and she feared it might happen soon, sooner than she’d be ready for.
It was too early for lunch, so that wasn’t the urge. Still, she walked to her fridge and grabbed a bottle of water to quench any possible stirring of idleness hunger ”“ too much of that had already gone to her waist in the past few months, but it went to the page too, a pleasing plumpness altogether. She closed her eyes and drank deeply, feeling the chilled water slip down her throat and pool inside her. She stood inside the opened refrigerator door for another lingering moment to deliberately separate the feeling of cold within, and cold reaching her skin on the outside. The inside was deliciously stronger. Bracing.
When she opened her eyes, the water bottle was already capped and back in its place, and the refrigerator door closed; she knew the motions as well as she knew her keyboard. She caught the view outside her kitchen window and impulsively moved to open the door, stepping outside. The day was so beautiful, and the sun so strong! Normally the early autumn heat and humidity irritated her, especially in the afternoons as it cut her writing concentration short. It got her to race against time each morning, and yet here she was, choosing to sit on the porch stairs and let the sun burn into her back, warmth quickly permeating every part of her and her morning. Damn it felt good.
The garden beckoned next. Well, those stubborn resilient weeds did. She moved from the rectangle of green onions to the square of low-lying basil bushes plucking out the new weeds as she went, bending down, straightening up, and bending down again in her own garden inspired exercise break. The thyme and the oregano grew profusely, loving their patch in the garden, and they effectively smothered everything in their path, so no weeds grew there, yet she stretched toward their far reaches in the garden to check anyway ”“ the stretching was good for her.
Ah, when she returned to her keyboard the words would flow again, she just knew it. How lucky was she, to work from home as she did? Corporate life had been good to her, but she did not miss it, not one bit. This was so much better.
The time ticked as 11:03am at the bottom corner of his computer screen.
That maddening restlessness moved him to slam his laptop shut to hibernate ”“ again. He didn’t even bother closing any of the tabs, not caring if the machine struggled to understand the abrupt interruption or not.
What was the use of having the newest and most expensive mac Apple offered when it was so pathetically poor at holding his attention? He’d begged for it as the only graduation gift he wanted. What a waste of money. What a wasted wish.
It was too early for lunch, so that wasn’t his urge; he felt a far different hunger. Still, he walked to his fridge and grabbed a beer; it would dull this confusing boredom as it always had the past few months. He wondered how much longer it would work, for he couldn’t afford the hard stuff. Just as well. Whatever.
Summer had become autumn. It was beautiful outside, with the leaves turning color and a new crispness charging the air and quickening the pulse. His shades were drawn though, and he didn’t notice any of it. Didn’t see it, didn’t feel it. Not anymore.
Worse than the boredom, the nagging, brutal guilt suffocated much of whatever else he’d once felt. It consumed him and all his attentions nowadays; he just couldn’t concentrate on anything else. He was supposed to be an adult now. He was supposed to go to work every day, listen to some boss, pay taxes, contribute to society and all that crap. A college degree, graduating summa cum laude no less, hadn’t helped him one damn bit; he had done all he could to find a job ”“ any job ”“ and there was nothing. Nothing.
Pride wasn’t in his way ”“ that feeling went away a long time ago and he’d gladly flip burgers, haul trash, anything; the lack of possibility was the problem. If it was still there, he no longer could see it. He could barely force himself to get out and keep looking. This morning was one he hadn’t, and he was getting alarmingly close to stopping altogether.
You play by the rules, get good grades, stay out of trouble and do everything your parents and teachers tell you to do, then the economy tanks, you can’t catch any break at all much less a decent one, and life sucks.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Postscript: I want a happy ending for this story. This was triggered by the current events of the day, for this second scene is playing out everywhere right now, and it breaks my heart. I am on a campaign to do something about our Lost Generation, and I hope you will join me. More here: Share your Sense of [Work] Place.
We have put so many dreams into the ‘job’ basket, that we have a lost generation not now understanding how to enjoy any sense of work, because the ache for a workplace is so very strong, and it feels so missing. They have no sense of belonging, and we are all paying the price.
Footnote: About the #FridayFlash fiction community. This is the 5th time I am participating, with fictional stories that do reflect some of the struggles we have in our workplaces today. My first 4 stories: The Vision, and The Manager, The Truth Will Set You Free and The Garage Sale.