Praying for a better year (A very short story)

Written in response to: Write a story about someone seeking a fresh start after a difficult year.... view prompt


Fiction Latinx Inspirational

2021 was not a pleasant year, not in the least. Mainly because of the worldwide pandemic that had been laying waste to the global population. This virus was a nasty one, nastier than we had ever seen. Yes, of course, there have been much worse over the millennia like The Black Plague, Ebola or Spanish Flu. But we managed to get a grip on the latter two, God handled the first one. However, COVID has carved its place in world history just for its mutagenic properties. The scientific community has never seen anything like it before. This virus was a LEARNING virus. Variant after variant continued to pop up in dense population centers around the world, one more virulent than the other. At this pace we were going to run out of Greek Alphabet letters to name them each type.

For me, the year has not been too kind. Don’t get me wrong, I was blessed with not having been infected…yet. But life itself has decided that the year of 2021 should drop kick me square in the nuts and it did it spectacularly. I started the year out full of hope. There was a new president that held so much promise for the country. Someone we all thought would heal the wounds that were ripped open by the previous raving lunatic that sat in the Oval Office. 2020 had laid bare our inability to cope with a virus that ran roughshod over the entire planet. Rather than band together to fight a common enemy, we sat finger pointing at whom was to blame for unleashing such a deadly disease (we all thought it was man made). Mid-way through we finally seemed to get our collective act together after seeing the rest of the world leap frog in front of us. Pharmaceutical companies shifted into full throttle to develop a vaccine. Some even combined forces and three different vaccines were created to combat COVID.

Once the FDA approved these fledgling vaccines (that were no cure, just a preventative measure from becoming infected) the government started distributing them to cities and states in the most dire need. It was a very slow and dysfunctional process. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was hogtied from the get-go because they were unprepared for something of this magnitude. We all felt it. Every city in every state felt it. But of course, there were those who did not believe in taking any of the vaccines on offer. Humanity, being the idiots that we are chose to let skepticism, conspiracy theories, the ravings of a dethroned mad man and simple stupidity stop the rest of the population from being vaccinated in order to prevent the continual spread of COVID.

I wasn’t so stubborn. I saw the writing on the wall and made the smart choice and got vaccinated. Yeah, there were side effects, but I survived. I was sick for a day with what seemed like a heavy flu, but I was fine after 24 hours.  As a result of the pandemic, companies were forced to get creative to keep running. Working remotely quickly became the thing to do. If you had a strong internet connection and a PC or laptop, you were able to login to your company’s network and continue working…and earn a paycheck. Let’s face it, no one wanted to pay their employee for sitting at home. Nope, they just didn’t.  They didn’t even want to pay them for remote work, but what choice did they have? Every major city and population center mandated that EVERYTHING shut down in order to stem the tide of rising infections.

The real losers (besides the ones dying from COVID, young and old) were the small businesses. The Mom & Pop shops of Main Street America. They were the real losers of the economy because they weren’t big enough or agile to survive. Soon many store fronts had shuttered for good. Not even when the government decided to start pumping free money under the guise of “Economic Stimulus”  into the system in order to help those who lost their jobs and were about to lose their homes as well. Already there were thousands living on the streets because of greedy landlords who evicted them for not paying rent. For most of those early homeless, the government’s stimulus checks didn’t get to them in time. Unfortunately, they met their end during the early riots and looting that broke out during the first quarantine.  It was sad, very sad.

My personal story picks up with my job. I was already unhappy with my position at the company I work for. Tensions within my department were thick due to interpersonal problems with certain co-workers. The powers that be (upper management) felt no need to address the obvious dysfunction within the group, choosing instead to allow it to flourish to a point where one day I blew a gasket and made a mistake. Since were working from home, the department had to be connected simultaneously via a ZOOM connection where we all could communicate with each other. In addition to that, we also employed Microsoft Teams to communicate with other departments within the company. On that day, my displeasure with a certain co-worker came to a head and I chose to vent my frustrations within MS Teams to another co-worker who felt similarly. The dummy that I was did not notice I was on the team chat instead of the individual chat and the person I was ranting about saw my comments. Needless to say, so did my supervisor. Long story short, I was written up with the distinct caveat that a repeat performance would cost me my job. No probation, no first time written warning, just a direct threat that I will lose my job if I act up again. The one and only time I have ever been disciplined for anything throughout my professional career and it almost cost me my job. Never mind that everyone else in the group felt the same way about this specific co-worker, I was the only one that was brave enough to voice my displeasure.

Needless for me to say, things did not go well for me with after that. It was pretty clear that my supervisor decided to make an example of me despite me being the best worker in the department. Why? Because he wanted to prove that he could keep me under his thumb for as long as he wanted. He wanted to retaliate against me for exposing a weakness in his management style that would only draw the attention of Senior Management (Vice President and above) and the questions that he surely did not want to answer less it threaten his job. The truth of it was that he felt threatened by me. You see, once upon a time I was in charge of the very same department until he came along and snaked it right out from under me. To be fair, it was partially my fault. I rested on my laurels once I had achieved the position and did not watch my back until it was too late. Once he took over, he kept me close and under his thumb. Fast forward to today and the existing problem with that certain co-worker. My boss allowed this guy to do whatever he wanted without actually doing any of his responsibilities. He did the bare minimum just to say “He worked” and continue to earn a paycheck from the company. It was more like “steal a paycheck” from the company. I couldn’t stand seeing this guy get away with “murder” while everyone else in the group turned in an honest day’s work to actually EARN their wages. Nothing I said or did could rectify my problem, so I had to learn to bite my tongue and live with it until another opportunity came along. Believe me, I was looking for one.

Events at work weren’t the only thing making my year crappy. They overflowed into my personal life as well. You see, I had been married once, but was now divorced. While married, I was fathered two children. Girls, to be exact. Ever since they were born they were my whole universe. Despite their mother and I breaking up I stayed devoted to them and only them until they were old enough (Junior and Senior year in high school) to accept me being with another woman. Unbeknownst to me, for one reason or another, my daughters turned on me. For whatever reason they had, which they did not share with me, they decided that “Daddy” was no longer needed and tossed me to the way side. I could not believe it. They only two females in my life that I placed before anything else had betrayed me. First it was the youngest one, Tara. She went cold turkey on me, refusing to even speak to me for over a year (pre-pandemic) before she even considered uttering a single syllable to me again. The oldest one, Mary, followed suit. But at least she waited until she moved away to a different state to reveal her true feelings. This occurred a few months ago and was revealed to me in an e-mail that she sent after I ended my work from home and returned to the office. I came in one morning and was greeted by a very nasty and graphic e-mail she decided to send me. I won’t go into specifics, but that e-mail completely shattered me. After reading it I felt as if a nuclear warhead had detonated and incinerated me. No clue, no signs, no nothing warned me of what was coming down the pipe. I felt truly alone. What about other family? No, no one was around. My sisters and I had drifted apart for one reason or another. I was not speaking to my mother because I simply hated how she raised us and could not stand to be in the same room with her for more than five minutes. My nieces and nephews spoke to me every now and then, but we weren’t exactly close. As for my father, well, he had left when I was two and I never saw him again until I was twenty-two. So the relationship is pretty non-existent. I speak to him every so often, but not enough to say we are close. Both grandparents on either side were long gone. Uncles and aunts were dropping off at least one per year where there was only one left…I think. My cousins keep their distance, for their own reasons (MY MOTHER). Yes, I have friends, but don’t really socialize that much. 

I am an introvert and tend to be a loner unless I really feel the need to seek companionship. I turned back to what I thought I did best to fill the gaping hole in my life and that was art (I have a degree in Graphic Design) and writing ( I love to tell a good tale). Both proved to be a dead end as I kept hitting a brick wall whenever I tried to make inroads in either arena.

Next, my social life. Yes, there was a woman who I was with on a long term basis, but she proved to be a bit…overwhelming and played a part in the fractured relationship between me and my oldest daughter. No, I had no idea of her machinations until it was way too late. Again, I am partly to blame because I should have been paying attention to the signs that were there. To use a sports metaphor, “There were flags on the play all over the football field.” So, I ended things with her after I found out the miserable truth. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have done it a long time ago. I guess you could say that I feared being alone because I did not know if I would find someone that truly fit with me as well as she did. Now I am not so sure any of that was real (It was all a lie). Her plan was to replace my kids with hers, seeing how much I adored my girls and gave them the world. She wanted the same thing from me since her ex-husband was a good for nothing scumbag and did shite for his own kids (she had two of her own). I was having none of that, hence the heave-ho when I found out her part in the drama between me and Mary (she really did me dirty).

Fast forward to now. It is December 24th, Christmas eve to be exact. There is supposed to be yuletide cheer in the air. This is a time for celebration, the day our savior the baby Jesus comes into the world. This was a time for family to gather and give gifts and be merry. But it doesn’t seem that way. Humanity has gone off its collective rocker, if you ask me. Looking at what happens on a daily basis in this city or any other is enough to make grown adults cry. Mass shootings, riots, lootings, the ever present COVID virus and its many variants. At face value there is nothing to look forward to, nothing positive. 

But there is. There is hope. There is faith. There is the expectancy of a better tomorrow because as surely as the sun rises and we wake up, it is a chance for something better, something positive to happen for all of us no matter what our station in life.  Yeah, there are a whole mess of people who have it far worse than I have this year, but that doesn’t take away from what I have endured or make it any less painful to me.

No, despite it all I still have my life, my health, a roof over my head, food in my stomach and a job that pays for it all no matter what the circumstances are. I honestly feel deep down inside that 2022 will be a better year for us all. Come January 1st, I am doing things differently. I am doing things the right way. I am going to make a better effort at a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate.

December 24, 2021 22:37

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Kendall Defoe
15:18 Jun 05, 2022

Good luck?!


Miguel P
20:58 Jun 05, 2022

We shall see :)


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