Trapped. ch1 and 2

I heard the soothing, steady sound of a coffee maker.

It feels as though I’ve been stuck here for so long. Stuck in the same place, the same office, the same town, the same life.

Forever.

There are very few things I fear. Shakespeare knows what I would do with a bare bodkin.

Why was I here again?

Tom haphazardly held a cup of coffee with just his index and his middle finger, gripping it loosely at the very edge of his fingers. He set the mug down near a plaque on his desk. His gaze lifted from the mountains of papers strewn in front of him and focused on me. Right. Coffee. The steam from the espresso slowly rose as I stood up to shake his hand. He looked down towards his work again. I sat back down.

“Thanks for the coffee, Tom.”

“Don’t mention it. We’ll get the espresso machine in the lobby fixed as soon as we can.”

I exited the room silently, closing the door behind me. What a stupid cunt. I walked swiftly between the cubicles, the leather strap of my messenger bag heavy against my left shoulder. Are you supposed to shake someone’s hand after they give you an espresso? I passed the secretary’s desk, turned the corner sharply, and headed towards the elevator. Who gives a fuck?

The elevator door inched open painfully. I slid between the open gap and slammed my hand repeatedly against the button for the first floor. The doors slithered shut, and the elevator gradually began to descend. Incessant Christmas music droned silently from a small, visible speaker in the corner of the elevator. It smelled faintly of peppermint candies.

How quickly five years had gone by. Five miserable, horrible years. This was supposed to be an “in between” job. But the pay was good, the environment — well, it was just barely tolerable, and my motivation to leave was nonexistent. But yet another year had gone by, and I was still here.

The elevator creaked, groaned, and came to a halt, then dinged for the first floor. All the cubicles were entirely empty, the lights were off. It was so quiet I could hear the holiday music from the elevator echoing in the distance.

I walked out to white snow in black ink. It was snowing. Another late night of work.

The headlights from oncoming traffic illuminated the darkness — sparkling white snowflakes danced as they fell in the breeze. I slammed the door to my ’98 Toyota Corolla shut and exhaled. White vapor billowed out of my mouth. Fuck it was cold. The engine sputtered, creaked, and came to life as I turned the key. The headlights flickered on, and I felt a soft stream of warm air hit my face. I took a small sip of espresso and set it down. It tasted like shit. No sugar, no milk. I didn’t drink coffee very often, but when I did it was to stay awake. I would need the coffee tonight to be productive. I pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road. God it was good to finally be out of that place.

Driving was the only time in my entire life that I could truly relax. I became one with the two dim headlights shining through the frosty dark. I lost myself in the road and in my own thoughts. I felt relaxed, at peace — in transit between two miserable places — but free. The realization that my life was nowhere near where I wanted it to be was forgotten. All the problems at work, all the work of tonight, all a nonissue for the next twenty minutes behind the wheel. It was my escape. It was, in many ways, my own special kind of meditation.

I turned the corner around Lexington and began to accelerate towards the leftmost exit to the freeway. A black sedan pulled in front of me from the far right lane, flying across four lanes of traffic to make the exit. The car looked oddly familiar for some reason. Fuck that guy. I wish I could never stop driving really. Never reach a destination, just be out on the open road for the rest of my life. Maybe in California, with the ocean to my left. In a convertible. The black sedan suddenly sped up impossibly fast, disappearing in the darkness. I would grow my hair out long and let it flow magnificently in the breeze without a care in the world. I could drive forever along the ocean, and maybe even up north into the mountains. I could drive between mountains and oceans and watch the vast world pass me by. I saw the black sedan reappear in front of me, swerving violently for a moment, then slowing down. My hair was too curly to grow that long though. For a second my gaze faltered from the black sedan in front of me, and I looked down to the coffee I had placed in the half broken, yellowed plastic that used to be a cup holder.

I heard the sharp screech of tires braking. Hard. I felt the impact before I had really realized what had happened. Molten lava spilled all over my entire body. Coffee. It was coffee. I slammed into an airbag. Pain. So much pain in my forehead. Shattered glass everywhere. I felt the blood and smelled the blood before I felt the pain. I opened the door to my now totaled, piece of shit car, and threw myself into the ice cold. I screamed. I screamed louder than I ever have in my entire life, and for longer than I ever thought I was capable of. I screamed until the scream turned into tears, the audible noise into visible pain leaving my body. The scream turned into a hopeless wail, and the wail into the shrill, faraway echo of sirens. I screamed less because of the pain and more because my life was collapsing, I was failing. It was over. I had no plan B, no exit strategy, no hope, nothing to live for, no one to come looking for me, no reason to be here anyway, and I wailed because even if those sirens got to me in time I was already dead.

~

As far as I know, you need free time to fall in love. Or so I thought. If love was a staircase and she was at the bottom of it, then you could say I flung myself down headfirst. To say I fell in love was a massive understatement. I crashed and spiraled down those steps and landed at her feet. But I don’t have time for that right now. I have an interview to make.

I pulled into the parking lot of the drab, square office building I would have to work at for the next few months if I got this job. I took a deep, labored breath, squared my shoulders, and stepped out of my car. Emblazoned on the glass front door to the building was plain white, Times New Roman that read Bringer IT Tech Solutions. The sign was completely unremarkable and hilariously redundant. The door creaked as I walked in, and it became abundantly clear the sign was telling.

Tom Bringer was a short, stout, heavy-set man in his fifties with thick rectangular glasses and an upper body so hairy that it gave his thin white button up a distinct, subtly visible textured pattern. He gave me a small, half smile and muttered something silently about Indians as I walked into his office.

I could already tell I would come to hate this man.

“Would you like some coffee?” he said, as I sat down after shaking his hand and exchanging closing pleasantries. The interview had been about as boring and uneventful as the rest of the office. “Sure,” I mumbled.

As I leaned forward to grab the coffee mug, I felt as though I was struck by lightning — some sort of momentary nervous system collapse — and the mug plummeted from my grasp and fell on top of Tom’s desk. Boiling hot coffee formed rivers and lakes instantly between the miscellaneous junk and paperwork scattered across the desk, then cascaded down onto the floor, and, almost in slow motion, fell painfully down onto Tom’s lap. He leapt from the table and screamed shrilly. Fuck.

Expletives rolled off his tongue so fast I felt like I was listening to a foreign language. I blushed violently like an imbecile and began to profusely apologize rapid fire. Tom ushered me out of the office, seemingly with a vengeance. Understandable. I essentially fled and hightailed it out of the parking lot back home. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Home was a house filled with five random cats, four random roommates, and one dusty room with a small twin bed. It was all I could afford. It was temporary.

I walked into my room, dropped all my shit, and opened up my journal.

The interview should be easy-peasy shit. The job is beneath me. Whatever the case, I have no fucking choice at the moment. It’s this job, or move back in with my parents with my tail tucked between my legs having failed all attempts to make any other life for myself. I need this now, and I’ll get it. There’s no way in fuck I can lose out — I am completely and utterly over qualified. It would take a disaster of Shakespearean proportions to fuck this one up.

Welp.

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