It all started on the Monday morning.
That might seem cliché, the idea that Mondays are always terrible, but it’s not as if I decided that was when everything was going to happen. The clichés are there for a reason, and it just so happened that it was a Monday when everything started to go wrong.
I pride myself on being a happy person. ‘Always look on the bright side’ is my mantra, and I’m known for my smile. It was a habit that I’d picked up from my Nan. Even at her husband’s funeral I can remember her smiling, reassuring everyone else as if she wasn’t suffering. When she died I’d decided that I would emulate her, live happy and bring joy to other people, all in her memory.
But this Monday decided to test me on that.
The first problem was when my alarm clock didn’t go off. No biggie; it’s embarrassing, but it happens. I don’t take long to get ready for work anyway, so all I needed to do was skip breakfast- I could grab something from the bakery at the other end- and I’d be fine.
Halfway down the steps outside, when I heard my apartment door click shut, was when I realised that I hadn’t picked up my keys.
“Damn it.” But I took a deep breath and kept going. A pain, sure enough, but my sister had the spare set. All I needed to do was text her at lunchtime, and swing by her place on the way home. Still nothing to worry about, and I kept my smile up.
Outside the sky was dark, but it hadn’t started raining yet. See, I told myself. It could always be worse.
I’d spoken too soon though, and by the time I’d reached the bus stop it had started, only the faint baby drops to begin with, but the air was heavy with the rain still to come. To add more insult to all the injuries so far, the electric bus read-out was flashing.
This Stop Is Not Currently In Use- Visit Our Website For More Details
The over-eager message lopped round and round while I cowered under the scant shelter to dig out the details on my phone. Sure enough, one of the main roads just up route had been closed off due to an accident, and all the buses had been diverted. With the extra weight of traffic as well as the diversion, I figured by that stage it would be faster for me to walk, so off I set.
Several of my friends had said that I looked weird in the rain, as I had a habit of smiling. While everyone around me glares at the floor and curses under their breath, I float along in a world of my own, admiring the clouds and how everything glitters when coated with raindrops. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? After so many years of living by my Nan’s code it was completely subconscious; I hadn’t even realised that I did this until a university friend pointed it out. They’d watched my walking across the courtyard to one of our lecture rooms, and as soon as I got there asked me if I had any weed on me.
“You gotta be smoking,” they said when I told them that I’d never even tried it, let alone was carrying any. “How come you so happy then?”
At the time I’d pitied them, that they could only think that happiness could be achieve by drugs.
Anyway, back to this Monday. I couldn’t have made it, what, half way down my road, before a bus drove past me. The bus I needed and all. The only reason I’d looked up and noticed it was because it had splashed me when it went through a puddle. By now the rain had seeped through my coat and was getting my shirt wet, and now the bus-that-shouldn’t-have-been-there had drenched my trousers as well.
“Oh well,” I said, although my conviction was faltering, “at least the accident wasn’t too bad. Hopefully no-one was badly injured.”
Grateful for that fact I walked on, the thought of a warm croissant and my favourite coffee from the bakery next to the office keeping me going. As is always the case in bad weather, no-one else on the pavement was watching where they were going, and I had to dance around more people than not. Another two buses went past me on the way, and on neither occasion was I near enough to a bus stop to hail them down. Oh well, I thought, the extra exercise won’t hurt.
By the time I’d gotten to the office I was pushing it for getting in on time, so I’d decided I’d only get breakfast if there was no queue, which was quite likely at that time. However the shutter was down at the cafe, so the decision was made for me. The chill was settling deep under my skin now, but a cup of office coffee would have to do, and I could get a larger lunch. Still no problem, at least no problem that couldn’t be sorted easily enough. Why take everything personally?
The lift doors were closing as I got into the lobby, but I figured the walk up to the fourth floor would help warm me up, and get some of the water out of my clothes. Fixing a smile to my face I made my way over, completely failing to catch the eye of the security guards on the front desk who I usually said good morning to. That was fine- I could come down at lunchtime and tell them about my morning. The pair of them were really friendly, but most of the other office workers in the building didn’t bother to give them the time of day.
Up the stairs I went, keeping an eye on my watch to make sure I wasn’t late. After everything that had happened so far, I figured the best way to end the story off would be ‘and then I still made it in on time’. Of course, this was far from the end, but I couldn’t know that at this stage.
Two flights up and the next disaster befell me. Water was dripping off me as I went, and someone before me had clearly been in the same situation, leaving little pools scattered across the stairs. I came around one corner and slipped in a puddle, slamming down onto the stairs I was trying to climb. For a fleeting instant the world span around me, and then there was a sharp pain in my knee and wrist. It took me a moment to realise what had happened, and then longer to struggle to my feet. Both my right leg and arm had taken the brunt of the fall, and I had caught them across the edge of a couple of the stairs.
“That could’ve been worse though,” I said through gritted teeth. And it could’ve been; if I hadn’t managed to break my fall then it would’ve been my face that had hit the stairs, and that would be a hospital trip, at best. All I need was a bandage or two, and some time resting at my desk- with that cup of coffee- and I’d be right as rain again.
“Right as rain,” I laughed, loving the irony of the phrase even as I winced and limped my way upstairs.
The first person I saw when I got to my floor was Deborah, the office gossip. Usually she’d have been on me in an instant, given the state I was in, but this time she hurried past, her head buried in files.
“Deborah! Is Adrian in?” Our unofficial first-aider, who would happily hand out painkillers and bandages without needing to fill in any paperwork.
“No, he’s off sick. And Christine’s been looking for you. There’s an important meeting about to start. Oh wow, are you okay?” She had at last looked up and caught sight of me, but I was too distracted by what she’d said.
“I’m fine. A meeting? What about?”
“Not sure, I think there’s a problem with a couple of the contracts.”
“Ah, damn. This day is determined to be bad.”
“What did you say?”
“Doesn’t matter. Main meeting room yeah?”
There might not have been time to drop my stuff off at my desk, but I did it anyway. If everything was going badly anyway, then it would be better to be slightly late and look presentable, than to be late and a mess, or so I figured.
The meeting lasted all morning, as one of our major contracts had fallen through and everyone was desperately trying to find a replacement. I was only there to take minutes, which was arduous enough with my still-tingling hand. Writing was taking me so long that I daren’t stop to grab any of the food that was supplied to the meeting, in case I missed anything that was said, and then the meeting over-ran as well.
By the time we were released for lunch I only had about twenty minutes left of my lunch break, with more meetings promised for when we got back. Now I had to prioritise, and as I knew there was more writing to come I went to the chemist and brought some bandages and anti-inflammatories. Thankfully they had some snacks up on the counter, but it was still well gone mid-day before I had my first food of the day.
Back to the office, some time hiding in the bathrooms as I patched myself up, and then I was back in meetings. These were slightly calmer, with the initial mad panic over, but I knew that now was the most important time to stay professional, especially when they started talking about redundancies.
“No avoiding it really,” my boss Christine said to me as we grabbed coffees during one of the smoking breaks. “Last in, first out, probably.”
It was said off-handedly, and Christine didn’t even stick around long enough to see my reaction. The problem was though, while I wasn’t exactly new, I couldn’t remember anyone else joining after me.
That’s fine, I thought. Redundancy gives a payout, and that’ll give me time to find a new job. Maybe I could even push myself, and go for something more exciting than office minion.
Optimistic as I am, even I can’t deny that when the final meeting finished- almost an hour after I was supposed to sign out- I was glad to be able to go home. The security guards had already gone, so I made a note to myself to make sure to catch them in the morning. I had survived the day, most of it whilst still slightly damp and running on only a couple of snack bars, and it would become a story. Yes this Monday had contrived to be the worst Monday of all, but I wasn’t going to let it get me down.
I was coming out of the building when I remembered about my house keys. I won’t lie, the smile faltered for a second. No problem though, just a quick text to my sister. Actually, it had been a while since I’d seen her, so why not treat her to dinner as well? Then we could catch up, marvel at how appalling my day had been, laugh and joke, and I could finish the day on an absolute positive note.
Normally I don’t text while I’m walking, but it was already late, and I wanted to catch her before she settled in for the night, or had started cooking her own dinner. So it was that I was on my phone when I got to the crossing, but the green man showed up and I carried on typing as I walked across. My thumb was just over the send button-
-and that’s when the bus hit me.
I think I was dead before I hit the road. At least, I hope I was. Either way, the aftermath looked painful from up here. And I’m glad my sister never got that text- that would’ve been a hell of a way to find out that I’d died, if she’d been waiting for me for dinner.
But do you know what? After all this, I’m thankful to my Nan. I mean, just imagine if I’d let every little thing that had happened that Monday get to me. I would’ve been utterly miserable, for the entirety of my last day alive.
And I think that would’ve been tragic.