The beginning of my day starts the same no matter what. I go through all the usual routines of breakfast, brushing my teeth, and noticing that my hairline is starting to recede, before I go to work. I walk there, which is stupid because the walk is just as grey and dull as work itself. I keep thinking that I'll find some comfort in world around me; maybe the wetness of the ground, or the sound busy feet make, but every day before I approach those big glass doors I settle into this same feeling, like I’m a moth throwing my paper body against the artificial hope of a lamp. I open the big doors, hold them longer for someone coming in behind me. Thwack, thwack, thwack, there goes that silly moth again.
She sits a couple of rows in front of me so I don’t see much of her, just that soft, pretty, orange hair that moves when she talks. If I could just break out of this pattern of movement, of this predetermined action, I swear I would walk right up to her and touch it.
I’m afraid it doesn’t get much more interesting than this. Except for one good part at the end, this is about as action driven my life gets to be. People don’t understand that when they create a story they create a space, a space filled by things and people, enough at least to maintain it. That makes sense, right? I'm not made to made to last much at all, I'm not even a side character, just another one of the people that fill up the space. In a couple of hours, the beginning of everything will start, and I’ll die almost immediately. I don’t even get to see the big event really, I go at the beginning of it. I do get to see jack though, twice actually, but both times it's just for a second.
He is the hero of the story. I image I'm lucky because I get a glimpse of him, of the most important person, of the man this story is about. It’s bleak, but there are plenty who died in their homes or on the streets, killed instantly by the big event, and they have no chance at all to see anything. But for a moment, near the end there, I get to see him. I get to see something dark and distant in the sky too. I’m in my chair now, at my little desk, and the drumming of my fingers against the fake wooden frame gives me back a shred of lost sanity.
Her name is joy. I don’t know what happens to her after the attack happens, and this is probably the only thing left that worries me. She turns just enough that I can see her smile from the side. I wish I could hear her laugh just once before I die.
When I peer out the window around 1:38, there's jack. I watch as he crosses the street with haste, smiling at an oncoming car before disappearing out of my line of sight. It’s a quick moment, but it’s the first time I see him. You can tell he’s meant to be the hero, the way he looks, the way he strides; there’s even a sort of glow about him that gives it away. I’m immensely jealous of him. Of course I am. Looking at him I know he was created for life, for the big event that’s only about an hour or so away now. He gets to see it all, he even gets to shape it. I’m not sure if he knows, and I’m not sure why I do but nevertheless I will die, and he will save the day. That’s just how the story goes.
I hope that when the darkness swallows me up it's her I see. It will be worth it if in that strange suspended place, I get to have some shred of her memory, some recollection of her silky hair. I can’t even talk to her here, and maybe that is why I’m so unfazed by my fate; because I’ve told myself it’s possible to see her in that darkness.
The big event is so close I can almost feel it seeping through the jagged lines of time to swallow me. All the little people at their little desks type away silently, and the tap tap tapping they make is happening in my brain too but faster. I know what to do because I've done it before and I can’t change it no matter how heavy my brain feels inside of my skull. I get up from my desk and leave the building, no one stops me.
I wish I could take her with me and run but I can’t. The curse of it all is the blind submission in which I move. My body betrays me by following its path so perfectly. It knows I’m meant to die. Does she die? I try not to think about it, but my mind is like my body and it knows its set path, so I focus on her soft hair again and how I think it would feel.
I’m outside and the air is different from before, its energetic now, it's alive with something I can’t see. I’m a moth again as I walk down the street. I hear a sound in the distance that’s like a siren, around the same time I smell smoke. I keep walking, even go a little faster. We're in the last moments here, I can feel it like the typing in my office.
My head starts to go a bit, everything happens so fast. People start screaming, people I didn’t even know were there, but there are so many voices. Those on the street with me look around in a panic, start running. I see something big and dark looming in the sky, I wish I could stare long enough to figure out what it is but I look away. There’s jack again, I see him for the last and second time, briefer than the first. He’s in his zone now, this is his call to action and he knows just what to do. All I see is him running, out of the corner of my eye, towards something. Then something that I can’t see comes flying in from my left side, I hear the sound its speed makes as narrows in, I think of how melancholy it is that I die at the start of all the action, before the story has really even started. Then it impales me.
I’m still here but swallowed up by something else. Maybe it’s not fully a death, some stuck place before I reset. But the thought of her is here with me and that’s enough, so I don’t care. Soft orange tendrils, I imagine them in the darkness.