It Had to of been a Monday
“I had failed my first test that day. I think it was a Tuesday only because I was tired, but not angry tired which means I had taken the stroll over the Monday hump and casually survived." He looked at his sweat and flesh entangled fingers from their abode that lay in his lap, and they flinched at the air. It appeared as if he was fidgeting endlessly. For some, the oxygen is simply toxic. Finger by finger he mumbled one, two, three- "Fourth. It had to be fourth period," he said. Without him knowing, the woman sitting across from him was really thinking about her Safeway cashier, and how when Tim Was His Name bagged her groceries, the veins in his hands would pulse at the grip of her cartons of whole milk.
Getting paid $27.10 an hour has become her only motivation for sitting here on her plush arm chair with rusted feet like that of her old protest pins that lie right on the flat portion of her chest. She doesn’t exactly listen to his day to day struggles which to her may seem insignificant among the endless piles of People magazines that lay on her bathroom floor and the psychology degree printed in ink from Montana State plastered on her wall that seems to be the only tangible memory of her life. Framed in a fake brass rectangle from the Goodwill, it hangs crooked to the right. She told herself she liked it that way, but the number of empty ice cream containers in the trash tells the garbage man a different story.
It wasn’t fair to her in the beginning with parents who told her they would give her everything they didn’t have the privilege of having themselves. This meant extra chocolate on Christmas and five layers of socks when it was cold instead of three. Never in their contract of parenthood did it discuss forcing her to make her own decisions or wean her off of the Task Mentality she was so skillfully taught in school. The task mentality is a plague of the brain in which one can only do something when told to do so. It functions on deliverables.
In eighth grade, she had been asked to write a Poem. A deliverable. A deliverable she had to, let’s say, deliver to the class. The Cannabis Influenced Procrastination and Past Influenced Self Hatred had ceased her words from working. From the moment she stumbled upon Robert Frost and his paintings, would she feast on words until about age sixteen when the Past decided to feast on her instead. Temptation and Desire texted her after she had just finished a container of Kirkland Very Vanilla and begged to take her out to lunch. As they sat at the center booth, enjoying three medium rare hamburgers, three chocolate shakes, and a large order of fries, her eyes twinkled between sentences of sinful ideas absorbing the self hatred like that of a syringe which sucks blood out of its victims. Mouths full of flesh and flesh eating words, they walked. The sweat of their palms being left on the table top of their futures as they pushed their chairs out, stood up in unison, and walked out of the joint.
When it came time to write that Poem, every ounce of Spring had left her. She excused it by the words of the man himself. “Nothing gold can stay,” so she left, gave up, and sold herself to the system.
The Poem was due on a Monday and that Sunday, on the day of the Lord, what used to be her mother sat by a bottle of Pick Me Ups and she never quite got up from her plush couch ever again. Depression became a symbol after that, one that fueled Anger and Mistrust to make decisions for her. With their mentorship, they convinced her that she wanted to go back to school to write more Poems about how to help people with Depression like her mother and possibly finish the words she never got to. These Poems transformed from bits of sunshine that resided inside of her to the placement of letters on multiple choice tests whose order would determine her excellence. Pencil after Pencil, whose sole purpose was to whittle themselves down possibly by means of derogatory language, would sit at her desk. They sat there, wedged between What Could Be and What Was- never quite getting to the promise land. Her left palm down, collecting condensation that contained what she couldn’t say, and the right palm, a cave where only the shadow of her writing’s path may lay, her hands became cradles for the Poems she wish she could write. They always had the sweetest of dreams.
Between the sky blue lines of Paper would she try to poke holes for the sunshine to make its way on through until she was told to stop putting holes in her answer sheets. It worked with the lines, but with the bubbles, it was different.
“C’s are most common,” the boy sitting two rows behind and three columns to the right of her desk told her. His voice came out in whispers so whether it was C, D, or B that he said, that was then up for her to decide. After consulting Anger and Mistrust, they chose C because it stood for Cure.
She resides in room 317. Right across the hall is a man in room 319 with a flip phone he only keeps because of the text messages his now Departed Daughter sent him on it. The texts say things like, “Don’t ever forget the words I tell you now. They are forever put into the universe. I love you.” She would about five rows of pixels later, put a less than symbol followed by a three. The only heart beat he could ever feel again was that behind a screen and light that frightened sleep. He could take apart and prod and at the machine to try to grasp at it but only to the point of destroying the technology that built it in the first place.
Just past where the light from the backing screen could reach, there was a rug that lie on the ground. This rug, covered in China printed paisley ran underneath the door into the fortress of room 317. Growing up from the edge of the rug was a wall that the woman put up. Everyone could see it, built brick by brick- some broken, but no one said anything. They paid her $27.10 an hour to feign its destruction.
That was all that he needed it to feel like. He did always say, “I feel like no one listens to me,” so just in this moment, he did the same. “I feel like my echo goes unregistered. I sit here in this room and other rooms under fluorescents, but nothing is registered.” He said this with the Truth crawling out of his eyes like an earthworm out of the soil. It recedes for the same purpose of wanting familiarity. He didn’t want to be there either so he looked up from his hands of which the skin was now dripping off from the touch of oxygen- the flesh staining his pants. He made eye contact with this woman so she could know he simply wanted to sing his Poems to those who pretended. He raised his hand to get her full attention because he too had deliverables and perfectly placed pencil pot holes on paper. He held his face in his now bare phalanges because he too had the Spring in him until it wilted. The rug became saturated with his tears so much that they, droplet by droplet, flowed into room 319 because he too painted his whole body in gold paint before he suffocated. Nothing gold can stay. He uttered his last bit of sunshine through perforated holes in his breath when he said, “I noticed Tim Was His Name’s veins as well.”