Sometimes I wonder whether I’m alive. I breathe. Obviously, I breathe. My chest rises and falls, and I can feel the air rush into my lungs. And my heart beats. I know that because occasionally I’ll put my two forefingers on my wrist and I’ll feel the pulse. It’s funny. My whole body is seething with life and yet I’m dead from the neck up. Funny, eh? Isn’t it funny?
Today is the last ‘just another’ day.
I stare at the same screen. Listen to the same ring tone. Witness the same bullshit. Attend the same meetings. I feel like I’m on a conveyor belt. I’m one of the prizes. The prize that nobody remembers or particularly pays attention to. The prize that’s never claimed. THEY ONLY EVER REMEMBER THE CUDDLY TOY!!! Whereas I just wind up collecting dust as I go round, and round, on the merry-go-round of bollocks. If I had an inner child, it would be the subject of torment. Poor bastard.
And another phone rings. And another ‘Hello, Marvey Reed, can I help you?’
There’s a whirlwind of apathy in this office. Meaningless words fly around in all directions, as the sound of yellowing teeth clamping down on pens floods the precious and rare moments of silence.
Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. TAT-TAT-TAT. Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. TAT-TAT-TAT.
I swear they only chew down on their pens as an alternative to their tongues. If we’re honest, we all want to rip our tongues out so blood pours and spurts into the air, instead of the lies we’re forced to spew out into the receivers.
The boss walks in. My stomach turns into a pit of snakes, writing and squirming, hissing ‘get out’.
I resume breathing. I check my pulse. I catch my reflection on my screen, which is now black and bursting with shooting stars. I concentrate on this and try to believe I’m flying, flying through space, flying among the stars. The only problem is there’s no horizon, no final destination. I’m a lost lamb flying into an eternal sky, floating and rotating, in a state of euphoria – but getting nowhere.
The manager shouts something. I snap out of my trance, click the mouse, and a database pops up full of records that no one gives a shit about. No people here, just numbers. We’re all just statistics. There is no ‘we’, ‘us’ or ‘them’.
“GET ON THE FUCKING PHONE, SIMMONS!!”
We work for eighty-four thousand and six hundred hours in a lifetime. I worked it out. There are eight thousand, seven hundred and thirty six hours in year; that’s five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. I know that because I’ve seen the musical. We work for a lot of years. We spend over five million minutes at a desk, as a corpse, waiting to be buried. PUT US IN THE GROUND ALREADY!!
Another phone rings.
I pick up the receiver.
Hold it to the side of the face.
Rub the eyes.
Mutter a greeting.
Update the database.
And then… and then I return my attention to the stars.
When I’m really down, I allow my imagination to rue the day. I sit at my desk, next to my diverted phone, with my hands poised on the keypad. Even with closed eyes, the fluorescent ceiling lights have a way of keeping everything vivid… but it never takes long to sedate the mind. I inhale and breathe in the cloggy, air-conditioned air. I exhale a colour – usually yellow – as I imagine I made different decisions.
I’m on stage. And before me is a vast audience. I’m performing to an auditorium of glow-worms. The spotlight’s on me and I can feel my blood heat up. Everywhere – rapt attention. In a stranger’s body, I recite a language full of beauty and truth, and savour each word. The world is mine and I’m home.
And now I’m in a foreign country, on another stage, in front of thousands, hundreds of thousands… and I look sexy as fuck… and my guitar is magnificent.
I once received a card that said; ‘never let anything stand in the way of your dreams’. HAHAHAHA!
I can’t help but ‘tut’ at those wankers who pretend or who are happy. I pass these jolly strangers, these ‘happy as Larry’ Larry’s – why’s Larry happy anyway? Such a stupid phrase… – and I try to smile but the cynicism in my veins buckles along the way, and bile collects in my gut, and if I smile at them, I won’t be able to keep it from spilling out of my mouth. So I don’t smile. I walk past and heave.
Today is the last ‘just another’ day.