No. But One Day.

Submitted into Contest #103 in response to: Write about a character looking for a sign.... view prompt

5 comments

Inspirational Coming of Age

The grey mornings have started blending seamlessly together, although here and there, the occasional face works its way into my conscience. The boss, asking me for a report he won’t read. The intern, asking me for a pencil he won’t return. The HR person, inviting me to a party I won’t go to. I liken them to curious, momentary disturbances in a lethargic sea of black, the only moving shapes in a periphery dominated endlessly by my computer screen.

There was a time when the distractions would have been welcome, when the familiar human contact would have prompted a small smile from me. But those days are long gone.

Paycheck, Debt, Repeat. Paycheck, Debt, Repeat. My tricyclic, Holy Grail, the mantra which pushes me out of bed every morning, coaxes an un-pressed dress suit onto my hunched figure, forces a bowl of stale cornflakes down my throat, cajoles me into an hour-long commute and chains me to a tiny cubicle for 8 hours a day.

Ah, purpose. What would Man do without it?

But this won’t be my life forever. Any entry-level office job is a stepping stone to bigger and better things, after all. I’ll save up enough money to pay off my staggering student loans, get some strong, customer-facing experience along the way, and quit my job. Then I’ll finally follow my dream - work as an EMT for the local hospital.

One day.

My heart races just thinking about it!

Admittedly, things have been slow. The economy has been down. Companies don’t have the budget to promote. Plenty of accountants are out of work all together. The 3 years I’ve spent as a junior accountant are nothing, I chide myself whenever I feel low. There are people who are UNEMPLOYED out there. Count your blessings.

A loud crash, uncharacteristic of the sleepy office, interrupts my musings. Without thinking, I jump up and race out the cubicle. Jan is sprawled on the floor dowsed in spilt coffee, an overturned chair beside her and a deep cut on her arm. As if I’ve done it a million times before, I race to her side and kneel down. She’s shaken up, but alright. Nothing seems broken, so I grab a handkerchief and tell her to press it against the wound. Guiding her back to her cubicle, I instruct someone to get an icepack from the fridge, and tell Jan to apply it to her arm in case it starts to swell.

“Thanks hon, I feel much better”, she goes.

“Don't mention it. Let me know if you need anything”.

“Jake, you should be doing this shit full time. You don’t belong in an office”.

I walk back to my cubicle. For the first time in a long time, I feel … something. Adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Maybe it’s a sign, an excited little voice in my head goes. Maybe it’s time to –

No. The rational part of me shuts down that thought. It was just a slip and fall accident. Get back to your desk. Don’t run away from stability and a paycheck.

But – the excited little voice starts arguing.

No. But One Day.

The rest of the day passes by much the same as usual. A blur. I finish a report. Then I get lectured by my boss for using the wrong format. So I reformat it. When I punch out of my shift, I shuffle towards the car, already dreaming about my little apartment – the ragged couch, an ancient TV, the beer cooler. Nothing like a nice pick-me-up to forget about your problems, even if it’s only temporary.

I get off the highway and turn into the dilapidated building complex, where I wait at the Stop sign. A young pedestrian smiles at me as she crosses.

I don’t think I would have caught what happened next if I was a minute too late.

A pickup truck comes barreling down the other end of the street. I watch in detached disbelief as the driver completely ignores the sign and races past the intersection, oblivious. The young women doesn’t even have time to react.

Her body gets tossed up like a rag doll. The driver – clearly impaired – keeps going. A scream builds in my throat as I see her bleeding out on the pavement. I yank open the door of the car and rush to her side. I’m dimly aware of half a dozen bystanders watching mutely, none of them moving.

“Hey. Hey! Look at me - You’re going to be just fine”. Judging by her rapid breathing, she’s in shock, so she probably feels no pain yet. I focus on her eyes, trying to calm her.

“My name’s Jake. I’m trained in First Aid and I’m going to help you, OK? Can you tell me your name?”

“Lisa”, she gives a whimper, and her eyes close. Cursing to myself, I rip off my shirt, turn it into a tourniquet and tie it around her forehead – as far as I can tell, it’s the worst external injury she has.

“Stay with me, Lisa!” By now, a couple bystanders have recovered and rushed to my side.

“You guys trained in first aid?”, I snap out. They nod. One of them pulls out his phone and calls 911.

“I suspect internal bleeding in her abdomen”, I begin. “Keep her legs elevated till the ambulance gets here.” The other bystander rushes over to help.

“Hey – Lisa?” I gently pat her cheek and her eyes flutter. “Help’s on the way, stay with me!”

I assess her vitals again. Although its shallow, I thank God she’s still breathing – I don’t have to worry about CPR. I make sure her airway is open, and I continue talking to her, trying to keep her awake. Asking her about her family. Asking her about her pets. Asking her about her job. More and more people are starting to congregate, although I tell them to keep their distance. Some of them are even filming.

What a great world we live in.

And then, I hear the sirens. In less than 2 minutes, an ambulance and police car are screeching to a halt in front of me, and paramedics are rushing to put Lisa on a stretcher. I give the cops a description of the car involved in the hit-and-run. I hope they catch the bastard quickly.

A tiny voice has been quietly whispering in the back of my head ever since I started treating Lisa. I frown, trying to make sense of it.

“Hey man, good thing you were here”.

I turn around and see one of the paramedics walking toward me. I shake her hand

“Just being a Good Samaritan”, I reply.

She smiles at me. “As long as we have people like you out here, our jobs become just a little less heart-breaking. You probably saved her life, you know”.

I accept the praise with a smile, and make my way back toward the car. People are looking at me, pointing and whispering with admiration. The tiny voice in my head finally speaks with clarity.

Hey, Jake?

What, I reply wearily, as I drive into the building parking lot.

2 in one day? It can’t be a coincidence, it says back.

I mull it over. The tiny voice speaks again, with a little more confidence.

Maybe it's a sign - it speaks up again.

No. I interrupt flatly.

But One Day.

July 17, 2021 21:33

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5 comments

K. Antonio
20:00 Jul 24, 2021

I liked the story a lot! The build up, the twist in the middle, the character's perspective. It was a well written story that played with something I feel will resonate with many people (the following of a dream, the leap into doing what we love, the idea of having to plan ahead). Anyway, great job!

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Vanit Shah
02:01 Jul 25, 2021

Thanks for the feedback!

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This story was truly fascinating to read. The feelings Jake has in this story are super relevant to people now in everyday life who are looking to have faith in their dreams. I found this to be very inspiring being as the fact that I'm a person who although has big dreams, is knocked down by a voice that tells me I can't do it. This was a little pick me up to myself and I thank you for writing this because I enjoyed the read. Awesome job with this. ;)

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Vanit Shah
21:20 Jul 25, 2021

Thank you so much!! So happy to hear that people can resonate with this :))

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You are very welcome.

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