“Don’t say a fucking word. Not one word. Don’t do anything. Wait. Just. Wait.” A thought learned from experience. From lost friendships, destroyed careers, and countless times I hadn’t waited. Where I’d paid for not waiting.
“Breathe.” Another bit of wisdom from my thoughts. A long, deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take a second. A third if needed. More if you have to. “Breathe. And Wait.”
I closed my eyes and took that deep breath. Then a second, third, and fourth.
“Music. Listen to the music in your memories.” A third bit of wisdom, learned from decades of emotional torture. “Just remember something.” Then, the words, and sounds came back from my memory.
I once had an understanding that everything would go my way
But now we’ve come too far along for me to hold on to my own beliefs
I’m not in it for the fun of it but for the pain
I’m not at all interested in your temporary fame
And the same old song we sing(1)
I wished I could leave. Walk out of the room. Out of the building. Go find a beach, stand on the sand, and watch the ocean. Just to escape the reality, the constant noise, the constant insanity of life.
Hell, I couldn’t even reach for my headphones, they weren’t allowed at work. And, no music in the workplace. Some people found it disruptive to their work processes. No pictures at your desk, no comic strips, nothing that was a form of self expression. No plants. Nothing.
A machine world. Filled with people. People who knew exactly how things were. I knew that. I saw them speak to each other. “Let’s make our appearance at Judy’s Birthday Celebration. They have cake.” I could almost see them wink at each other. Even if they didn’t want to go, they went. Because. It’s what you did. “How are you today?” And the answer was always, “Fine.”
“Wait. Just. Wait. Sit here. With your hands on the keyboard. And text windows all over the screen. And wait.” Noise. The noise of silence. Have you ever heard the overhead lights? The high pitched whine they make? The air being forced through the vents into the room. The same keyboard at everyone’s desk, attached to the same computer, making the same clicking sounds. With the same fans making the same racket in their computer cases. Endlessly.
The clock said 4:56. “Wait. Another 4 minutes. Wait. It’s almost over.” God, how I hated the lights. They drained the soul, the life, out of everything. “Only 4 minutes, and you can escape.”
Yes. Escape. To the car. To drive home. With a zillion other people I’d never met. To wonder if I’d make it home alive, or if someone would crush my car, with me in it, as I waited. In the traffic.
“Wait. Just. Wait. And don’t forget to breathe.”
480 Words (not counting footnote)
For week 20 of Ever Addams weekly #EVERyTuesdayWordplay Flash Fiction prompt. Sometimes, sensory overload triggers panic attacks. Life’s a headache sometimes, isnt’ it. Go read the other stories for prompt #20.
(1) – “Here Come The Vultures”
Songwriters: Guus Eikens / Martijn Westerholt / Johanna Wessels
© Robot Of The Century Songs, A・k Company Limited, Kobalt Music Netherlands International B.V.