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The rain tumbled and splashed against Andy’s apartment window. The 45 year old’s pale, skeletal body leaned against the sill. Smoking his first cigarette in almost twenty-five years, Andy peered through the glass, watching the rain pour through the blinding smog that surrounded his high rise. Tears sprung slowly from his eyes. He remembered his wife leaving the apartment, about two weeks ago now, after he came home to another man in her arms.
Turning back from the window he faced his apartment. A single light fixture, a kitchen counter with bar stools, a couch, a coffee table, and a tiny flat screen television. Next to the kitchen, a bedroom with a door that was always closed. Everything about the bedroom, the smell, the pictures on the dresser across from the bed, reminded him of his wife. Dammit. I should have thrown those pictures out. He trudged to the couch and tumbled onto it. On the coffee table in front of him was an array of beer cans and empty gin bottles. He grabbed the last bottle, draining it it one sip. The alcohol was bitter, but the smoke of Andy’s cigarette dulled the flavor. Andy’s wife was gone, and the bottles had been piling up in his apartment since. He had been fired from his job teaching physics three days ago, after showing up to his school fully drunk. His bank account was dwindling. Andy’s future was barren. Now’s not the time to think about that. He returned to his lugubrious stupor, fueled by strong tobacco and cheap gin.
As Andy lay on his couch he dreamed. He took himself back to his eighteenth birthday.
Andy remembered sitting around a large table, his family beamed at him while he sliced up the last birthday cake his parents would make for him. “Well son,” his father boomed to the table, “onwards and upwards!” The family smiled at his father’s maxim. Andy wept quietly into the couch’s cushions as he remembered a kinder past. He was crying because he believed he had no future. Yet he continued to dream. This was a better life. As he dreamt, he wept more, until he felt thirsty, and went to get a water bottle from his refrigerator.
The days unfolded almost identically for the next week.
At the end of one night, Andy tried to remember: What the hell happened this week? But the days were blurred together into a fine line of misery and monotony.
Andy had avoided it for long enough, that is, the question of what he is to become. He had no job, no money, no wife. He could return home. For what? Andy knew he had nothing left. Alcohol helped him cope. Ultimately it changed nothing, and Andy recognized that. I’m not anything. Andy knew he was right. He wasn’t anything. He lived repetitively, alone, unskilled, unintelligent. As the days dragged on by, Andy grew used to his lifestyle. He left his apartment methodically and strategically. Once a week he’d exit his apartment, for food, cigarettes and booze.
It was the third time he had left his apartment in three weeks, when on the way to the local convenience store, Andy’s heart began to race. Is that Isaiah Winger? Upon thinking the name, Andy’s mind immediately raced back to senior year of high school. Isaiah was the most memorable friend of Andy’s high school. Andy remembered laughing his a** off at Isaiah’s jokes. He was the funniest kid in the 12th grade. Andy began to stare, and the man looked back. He waved at Andy and jogged towards him. “Andy! What’s up man? You look like you haven’t been outside in years dude!” Andy regarded at his friend with amusement. “Yeah it’s been a while,” Andy observed pensively. “What are the odds, man!” exclaimed Isaiah. “Honestly. Where you headed?” Andy replied. “Nowhere right now,” was Isaiah’s response. I’m just around here to take care of some family business. You know how it is.” Andy realized he was feeling happy for the first time in a long while. He thought about everything that he had undergone in the past few weeks. “Isaiah, let me tell you,” Andy began, and he told his story.
The friends spent the next few hours in a bar near Andy’s apartment. Isaiah listened to Andy talk about the loss of his wife, and the subsequent depression that Andy had fallen into. “So what are you doing now then?” Isaiah asked tentatively. “No idea.” Said Andy. “I’ve gone broke since I lost my job, and no wife to take care of me, obviously.” “Damn.” Isaiah remarked. “No family back home then?” “No” Andy responded. Isaiah continues to push. “Come on man, you really should get a new job though. You’re ruining yourself.” Andy took a long pause. “I don’t really have the will to do anything right now.” He said, in between sips of his beer.
Andy and Isaiah met frequently over the course of a few weeks, meeting up in the same shoddy bar to discuss whatever they found interesting. Reflecting on their conversations one night, Andy thought about how he was feeling, compared to a few weeks prior. I feel healthier certainly, and I’ve gotten out more. Andy realized his mood had improved thanks to the companionship of his friend.
One night, Andy left his apartment. He walked up to the roof to think. He sat atop the building, gazing at the metropolis around him. Neon characters flashed, advertising products Andy had never heard of. He stood over the precipice. It was just as he stood up to stretch, he realized: I’m alright. This is the first time in like three weeks. For the first time in what felt to Andy like ages, he was feeling genuinely happy. Andy heard the door to the roof swing open. Isaiah called “What’s up?” startled, Andy keeled forward over the edge.
He awoke in a bed.Andy looked at the scene around him. A grove of ginkgo trees visible through a nearby open window, a warm breeze, neatly trimmed hedges, a chartreuse evening summer sky. His window was right by a park. Andy turned his head. Behind him was a white placard labeled “United Family Hospital, ward 3.” An old woman, with short gray hair and a stoop sat in the corner in a black plastic seat. Andy remembered the roof. He remembered falling, and from that point, from the moments before he fell, the few weeks before fell into place in Andy’s mind. I’m not going back to thay. He looked at the old woman, and she looked right back at him. Her riveting gray eyes reminded Andy of himself. He averted his attention from her.