The electric scream of the alarm clock shattered my sleep at 4 AM. The timers automatically turned on the lights in the room, forcing my eyes to snap shut. At 4 AM in New York, it’s still dark. I took a deep breath, opened my eyes, tossed aside the blankets, and rolled out of bed.
“Time to get ready for work!”
Work. The same damn thing as always. In the same building as always. With the same people. The same problems. The same lunches.
I wanted to go back to sleep. Fall into bed, bury myself under the blankets, and wake up when I woke up. But, that wasn’t life. That wasn’t grown up. Mature. Responsible. I pushed my body into motion. Got my shower, shaved, got dressed.
The sofa called as I walked past, “Come! Lie down. Stretch out. Relax.” But, I had bills to pay, rent, car, heat, water, electricity, phone. Hell, the damned phone was over $100 a month. I moved past it, ignored it, ignored the cry of my legs, “Let us rest!” I pushed on to the kitchen.
My usual breakfast. Three frozen sausage links, two frozen waffles, one banana, and a can of Amp. Aptly named, Amp. The solid food gave me protein and carbs to get me through to lunch. The Amp kick started me, got me out of the house and to work. I tossed the empty can in the recycling bin and shook my head to clear the cobwebs from my brain.
New York, the big apple, land of money, money, money. Land of the punched clock, unpaid overtime, unused vacation sold back to the company. New York, where nothing ever stopped. Where I got up every morning, before the sun, and pushed myself to work, along with millions of others. Where I worked long past sunset, then staggered home to eat another fast food meal picked up on the way. So I could crash, just in time for the alarm to shatter my sleep at 4 AM the next day. So I could do it all over again. And again.
I took her picture down months ago. She left, said I didn’t love her anymore. Said I loved my work more than her. She walked out with a suitcase, never came back.
She was right, you know. The job was all I was. All I did. Hell, I didn’t even dream at night. Except for nightmares, when I was at work, and the building got hit by a plane, or a bomb went off, or someone went bat shit crazy and shot everyone, like that guy in that movie theater in Colorado did one time.
It was time to go to work. I left my apartment, pulled the door shut behind me, I didn’t look back. If I looked back, I remembered.
I didn’t want to remember. I didn’t have time to remember. I had to get to work. I was a grown up. Responsible. Mature. I didn’t have time to remember.
This is my entry for Year 2, Week 44 (Week 2.44) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Wake Up In New York” by Craig Armstrong and Evan Dando. Please, go read the other stories in this week’s challenge.