Every Morning’s Story

IMG_5350The sounds around him were muted into unreality. Conversations, car noise, road work, all of them no more than background fuzz. His eyes were open, but the world was still hazy, indistinct. He stared at his phone. The digital approximations of cards slid under his finger, some finding homes, some snapping back to their point of origin, unused.

The person next to him – a man in a dark suit with crisp lines that contrasted the motley chaos of color that filled the vehicle. The man in the suit sat wide, legs akimbo. The card playing man wondered for a moment if maybe the man in the suit couldn’t close his legs. Was it uncomfortable? Were there anatomical differences between himself and the man in the suit? Why were his legs so impossibly far apart? The man in the suit was pushing the card playing man further against the wall, annexing a small portion of his seat for the man in the suit’s left leg.

The card playing man fumed silently about the inequity of that for a moment. Ran a mental simulation of himself – a transformed person. Now he was the man. The man with confidence. Self-assured and correct. He would laconically turn his head to the man in the suit and – without even needing to get the man in the suit’s attention, speak and say the perfect thing.

“Look man. No one’s balls are that big. Why don’t we negotiate the release of the the other half of my seat from your clutches, and you can go back to day-dreaming about beer-and-slider-soaked fuck-mergers and popped-collar polo shirts?”

The man in the suit would stop – frozen with the shock of having been spoken to in such a way. Churlish ire slowly transforming into slightly awed enjoyment of the non-reality of the words just spoken to him. They couldn’t be real – no one talks like that in real life. Why does this guy sound like TV? What’s his deal?

But the man in the suit would move. He would gently close his legs – half-unsure as to why he was even doing it. And for the rest of the day, the man in the suit would be off a step. Maybe just a half step. Just enough to remind him that he’d been bested. The man in the suit had tried to assume what was his, and found instead that the world disagreed. He was denied. How does that even happen? That’s not what happens to the man in the suit. How did we get here?

And then the fantasy ends. Too heavy to sustain its own weight in the harsh glare of morning’s reality. It falls apart like a cloud in the wind. Substance slowly giving way to non-existence.

The card playing man looks back at his phone. Tries to make himself comfortable against the vehicle’s window frame. The morning has begun in earnest. And his eyes are clear now. Cloudy kitten eyes at birth have grown into adulthood. The world – once a palette of grey haze, now screams into those eyes, demanding attention.

He shuts down his phone. The stream of digitized sound still streams through the padded black embrace of headphones, never letting thought become real for more than a few elusive seconds at a time.

So he doesn’t try. He lets the sounds wash over him. Words, laughter, the susurration of enjoyment fills his mind, while the world fills his eyes. The two blend into a warm unreality, and he wraps himself in it, shielded from the careless onslaught from without, and the battering hate from within.

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