A golden beam of light shined its way through my window and lit up my room with an angelic orange glow leaving no spot darkened, despite the blinds attempting to protect my window from this sort of interference. I looked outside to see the world illuminated with this same beautiful radiancy.
Outside, various birds, insects, and other land-dwelling animals assembled to perform a joyful symphony for all the world to hear. The usual hustle and bustle of the city failed to impede their song as no person dared step outside.
After observing this spectacle I pulled my blanket over my head to block out the obnoxious glare of the sun. I rolled over and tried to get some more sleep, but the noise prevented me from getting any more rest.
Instead of cowering in fear due to all the people littering the world, they ran rampant in the streets. Each day the animals drifted further towards the most populated parts of cities, and with each step, they became bolder. With their now brazen presence, they brought a new vitality to the world.
It took a while until I finally accepted that I got up when they did. I’ve never liked mornings and getting up early each day only reinforced that sentiment. Nothing ever got done when I felt as I did. Nothing ever got done regardless of my state though, so I guess it didn’t have as big an impact as it felt like it did.
Before the quarantine when this issue didn’t present itself nearly as often, I worked for eight hours every weekday at a local restaurant. My job was to take the order of whatever glutton came into the store and deliver them their grease ridden heart attack in a box covered in smiles and rainbows.
The hands of the only clock in that building moved in unpredictable ways. Sometimes they would stand still for hours on end. Other times they would move at a pace so slow any change in position couldn’t be detected by the naked eye. Though unpredictable, the hands invariably declined to move past a steady crawl.
I could never trust that clock, after a time I started bringing my own watch to work to verify its integrity (or just the opposite). After looking down at my watch every day, only for both of the sources to agree, I began to question my reality.
The building had a way of holding you in place and draining your energy until you had nothing left to give. When I finally made it home after a hard day’s work, I would rarely do anything useful. My energy had been forcefully expelled from me, and so I spent my free time recovering.
After work, I laid down on my couch to watch Netflix or browse through whatever social media I decided on at the time. Each series, movie, or post offers something different from the last, and there’s so many of them that it’s impossible to run out of entertainment. With each binging of an entire series or each social media post I flicked through, I knew I still hadn’t managed to make a dent in the vast expanse of unexplored media.
Now that the virus has gotten to a point where governments needed to take action and keep us safe in our homes, most restaurants have shut down. My workplace laid everyone off as soon as they heard the news.
When I first heard this news, I thought of all the things I could do with all this free time. Learning to cook for myself has always been a desire of mine, but my busy schedule has always gotten in the way. Now that the issue of time was irrelevant, I finally had the opportunity to practice.
I could finish that book I’ve always wanted to read, hell, by the end of the quarantine I could probably finish ten. Only one thing stood between me and a vast expanse of new knowledge and skills.
After I finished work every day I would go home and laze about. Even on the weekends when I could be making a good use of my time, I chose to sit around doing nothing. Initially, I thought quarantine would bring about new opportunities considering it turned time into a near unlimited resource, but old habits die hard.
Soon the “I’ll do it laters” became neverending. My freedom became my curse as my conscience and my actions constantly disagreed.
I spent the days repeating the same routine. After I woke up I would make myself some breakfast, usually a pop tart, muffin, or some other low-effort snack I had lying around. After that, I proceeded to lie on the couch and watch television, only pausing for the occasional meal or bathroom break.
Modern technology has allowed for some amazing devices to relieve boredom and cure stress with a single push of a button. If you came from a time before these inventions found their way into the mainstream, you might think of them as some divine gift of god.
Having had experience with these would make you think just the opposite. The amount of time I’ve wasted clicking through social media is immense, but the immediate gratification of the world at my fingertips has tainted my brain with a need for constant stimulation. Each time I like a post on facebook, or post a new story on snapchat I’m dragged deeper into the bottomless trench.
My state of living for each like, follow or retweet showed no signs of changing, until one morning I heard my doorbell ring. At first, I figured whoever ringed my doorbell had the wrong house and would soon notice, and correct their mistake. I hadn’t invited any family over, and door to door solicitors likely wouldn’t be out during this time.
I ignored the initial tone and hoped whoever stood outside my door would acknowledge the fact that maybe they hadn’t been addressed for a reason. Regardless, they persisted and after about a minute of not answering the door, I heard another ring. Then two, and three.
Soon, I couldn’t hear myself think over the constant chiming that filled the flat. I scrambled to my door to go tell off whatever girl scout, or annoying prankster saw it fit to mess with me. When I bursted open my door, I was prepared to let out a verbal barrage on the poor fool who decided I made the ideal target.
Before I could let out a single word though the person who had arrived at my door cut me off.
“I’ve just about had it with--”
Before I had time to finish my sentence, both of us stood before a mansion bigger and more elaborate than anything I’ve ever seen.
Glass covered parts of the structure, allowing for a view inside. Each room contained some flamboyant display of wealth. In one room a private bar could be seen. In another at least 20 cars of varying models and designs were visible.
The building itself stretched out for what seemed like a city block, with the yard adding another few to the property. A pool sat in the yard surrounded by white tiles. Beside to the pool, a man laid sunbathing.
“What is this?” I asked confused as to what I was witnessing.
We stood inside my apartment complex, at the entrance to my room. The door was swung wide open so the mess of my living space could be seen from the hallway.
Dishes with all sorts of grime and bits of food lay strewn about my place. Dirty and sweaty clothes appeared in piles on the floor, adding to the unbearable smell that flowed out of the room and threatened to fill the hallway. Old pizza boxes as well as other forms of takeout accompanied the dishes to cover the tables and counters making them near impossible to see under the mountains of trash.
Creatures came to explore these mountains. Like explorers to Everest cockroaches and ants summited the peaks and gazed down upon the chaotic world beneath them like they had conquered some incredible feat.
“You need to make the first step,” as they looked at me I could feel an unseen pressure. This was no condition to live in. Changes needed to be made in order to better my home as well as myself. I walked into my apartment ready to take action, but as soon as I stepped through my door I found myself in my bed.
A warm light shined down through my window and onto my face. The animals outside sang their cheerful song as they welcomed a new day.
Feeling a renewed sense of purpose, I sprang out of bed and into my living room. Next to my couch sat a desk with an empty garbage bag. I thought of the experience I had and how I needed to take the first step to correct things.
Then I thought of the work it would take. I looked at my television. The black screen reflected the world and painted it as a dark caricature of reality. I thought about each moment I wasted in front of it, sacrificing hours of my life to this meaningless abyss.
I thought about the painfully boring days at work selling bits and pieces of my life for barely enough money to survive. I thought about the days when I had gotten home to find the television sitting right in its usual spot, ready to wash all my worries away. I thought about all the NetFlix specials and Hulu originals I had yet to watch.
I thought until there was nothing more to think about, and finally I turned thought into action to picked up the remote
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Hey Sebastian, I just finished reading your story, and I am impressed with your writing. I would start my review with all the things I loved about it. To start with, I loved the imagery you have presented in your story. I think it's as alive as it needs to be to transport you to that world. I loved some of your phrases. For example, “grease ridden heart attack in a box covered in smiles and rainbows.” I think the contrast between the happy images on the box, with the gory imagery of grease leading to a heart attack is brilliant. I loved ...
Thanks for all the feedback, I'm glad you liked it! There's definitely some things I need to work on I really appreciate the criticism, as it helps me to become a better writer by noticing and editing these things more. Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment.
Amazing imagery! -A.