Updated: Mar 17
Sometimes he had this dream; a terrible dream that stuck with him throughout the day; a dream that shook him to his core. Too often when he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep he would be brought face to face with oblivion and all of her void nothingness, but what did it mean? His mind pleaded against his denial for acceptance and the peace that follows release.
He always woke up alert, jarred back to reality. His eyes would burst open as the light began to crawl up the grey and baron walls of his bedroom. He would look up at his ceiling fan and try to make sense of that dream as the blades beat their steady rhythm in an unending and senseless cycle. What could it mean?
His routine was now a part of him, almost instinctive. First, he would roll out of bed, never pausing to remake the covers. Then, sullenly, he would sulk to the bathroom and take the first piss of the day, shower in tepid water, and brush his teeth with rust as he slowly became more alive and more awake. Next, he would throw on whatever clothes weren't too wrinkly or too dirty and walk out the door always neglecting the most important meal of the day. He rarely had an appetite anymore.
His walk to work wasn't too long. He rather enjoyed being outside and having somewhere to go. The energy of the city, the lives being lived, gave him some strange sense of wonder. Curiously enough, he didn’t hate work either. Very few did what he did for a living and none made such intimate, meaningful connections. No, it was the damn weekend that he dreaded; the weekend, and her unrelenting quiet.
The hum of office noise, phones, and typing mostly, droned throughout his days. The movement of the office always invigorated his tired heart. At work, a call would come in from some broken soul nearing the end of their rope, and his job was to simply hear them and connect. So often the thing people needed most was a friendly voice to keep them company and illuminate the darkness around them, showing them that they aren't alone.
He just knew what to say and when to say it. Every time he took a call he was able to beat that whisper with his sincere concern and genuine wish to help. Nowhere else in his life had he been able to be so connected with anyone. He was what they needed and they for him.
He ended every workday in the same miserable fashion when he unlocked the door to his tiny apartment and shuffled in, feeling as gloomy as his grey walls. He could never tell you why, when, or how it had happened but suddenly, he would find himself defeated. He would eat his food, not really tasting, and never enjoying it, in front of his T.V. as he soaked in the warmth of the voices illuminating the auditory emptiness of his apartment. It was nice to hear another voice in his hovel, even if it was artificial.
After he had sat in front of the T.V. for far too long he would lay in bed and give a deep sigh of relief for work time would soon be there, and he would get to escape his lonely little shell once again. After all, it wasn't work that he dreaded, it was the weekend that he loathed.
On Saturdays, he would wake up around noon and lay in his disheveled bed until three. He would never be hungry, but he knew he should eat. It was something to do at least, wasn't it? He would wrestle between going out or just staying in, always opting for the latter. Something about going out on days when he had nowhere to go deflated that sense of wonder he carried through the week. Watching, emptily, as others had a purpose was lonesome sport. He would watch everything on T.V., staying up until the sun began to rise, then begrudgingly surrender to his sleep. On the weekends he merely existed.
He would lay awake staring at his ceiling and let his mind go wherever it pleased and
then, he would dream. He would dream that he was falling backward off a boat, splashing into the crisp, blue Pacific, and descending to a colorful reef below, bubbles dancing all around. He would drift around the reef and explore. The fish would dance and play as he moved among them, enjoying what was the pleasant side of the reef. As he explored, he would always notice these lonesome fish skulking away into cooler, darker waters. If you asked, he couldn’t tell you what or why but something about them called to him. Nothing good could live in the dark.
Closely he would watch them, slowly coaxing them back to the light until they would suddenly dart away. Confused, he would look up, and the terror would sink its gnarly teeth into his core. Darkness, abyss, nothingness, void: call it what you will, he knew it as oblivion. He would stare into it, not comprehending it further than empty, cold, and dark as it stared right back into him. It was endless and petrifying as it glared into his soul.
In terror, he would swim frantically back to the reef and all of its energy, all of its life. It seemed harder every time, but he had to fight and return to the warmth. And then, his eyes would burst open, adjusting to the light’s crawl. Cold-sweat-soaked he would begin the day again.
He would almost be excited as he sat in his cubicle to help those who called in. He was happy to be there, to soak up all of their sorrow, all of their loneliness, and if only for a moment, love them. He saved lives. For five days a week, he was a capable man in control who could help, but as always the weekend would rear its ugly head, and he would become nothing, no one and alone.
You don't know how quiet an apartment could be. He did though, he truly did. There was this quiet that even his T.V. could never drown out; a silence that could never be muted. This was his life; predictable, pitiful, and perpetual all the way up until he dreamed that dream one last time.
After he had wandered away from the warm, bright reef he found himself, yet again, face to face with oblivion. He was still in awe-stricken terror. The current pulled at him gently. It was deeply unsettling to him, the notion of nothingness, and suddenly it crashed in on him; the call of the void. It whispered sweetly like a girl drawing him to bed. He knew he should swim away, but slowly, lovingly it pulled him in. He panicked until he saw the oblivion, void of life, for what it was.
Euphoric freedom drove like adrenaline through his veins. He let go of his fear and swam toward the abyss slowly, deliberately accepting its seductive invitation until the darkness had engulfed him and he knew no more.