Dusk Came Fast

After all this, who knows. Maybe I'm insane. Or maybe I really can see the future. Yea, that's what I believe. I can see the future, and it ain't too bright.

This all started a week prior to New Year's Eve, 1998. I had been living lies. Day in, day out, everything I did was false. Every morning, I woke up and ate a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon, made by my own hands, obviously burnt with expertise. I would then proceed to walk out the door of my trash apartment, down twelve flights of stairs, and into a cab, which would escort me to the building in which I worked.

My job was dead end. I was the worst employee in my department, as well as the hardest working. Hell, I was the worst employee in New York. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, no matter what amount of percentage I worked at, all of my coworkers were better at my job than I was. I had asked before, not being completely oblivious of my bad fortune, why I worked somewhere that I didn't enjoy, and why I worked as a tax specialist, something I definitely didn't have a taste for. The fact was that, as I would soon learn in a forthcoming epiphany, I wasn't good at anything. I had been born out of place, twisted. My whole life, after being looked over and observed, was one humorous comic, that kids read in the Sunday paper, the sillies.

During my childhood I had been clueless, annoying, and gullible. I spent all of my days suspecting there were places in the world made of chocolate, and that as an adult I would buy North Dakota and make it a state-size Jurassic park. I was no better as I grew to be adolescent. I continued my adventure through imagination land, through junior high and high school, not knowing where to go, and not knowing what I was to do, yet alone what I was going to do when I graduated. Mood swings outlined this same adolescence, which did not help with my friend-finding skills. I had spent my life alone, void of any special interests. I never met someone to talk to, nor had I ever found any specific interest in any type of music, or any cinema, not even any literature that was not required.

I was simply nothing. I was surprised to still be alive AND sane at this point. I figured that by the time I was thirty-four I would have either been in an insane asylum, with twelve lives on my hands, or I would have achieved complete ecstasy by jumping out of a window or by hanging myself. And yet I was still steadily going downhill in life, instead of being clinically insane or just plain dead. I was cursed to stay here, from day to day, being the biggest loser in the world. I accepted this though.

Upon the hour of twelve at noon, on this very Monday, I grabbed my bag of personals and left work for a small coffee shop down the street, it being the streets of New York City, and it being noon on a Monday. They were busy, as usual—cars inching down the overly busy roads, the sidewalks filled with the same people, all wearing suits with fancy ties, or tourists who have decided to wear their "I heart NYC" shirts out of the store. Only shining shoes, briefcases, and sandals were permitted on the grounds of these crowded walkways.

However, eventually, my trip concluded in the business of a coffee shop, which shall remain nameless, for the sake of its own small-time business. I entered and immediately sat down, ordering coffee (duh) and a croissant (still sold in places besides France) and presumed reading over reports for spelling errors. It was then that she sat down in the seat across from mine, on the very same table. At first I was too stunned to talk to her. No one had ever sat with me, or talked to me, or anything of the sort. Oh, and she did talk. It wasn't just an awkward moment where she sat across from me by accident, or because there were no other seats, in which case she would have not said a word.

Not unlike any normal conversation, with any normal person, the first word spoken was, "Hello."

My reply was still stunned and converting to confused at a steady pace. "Hello?"

She powdered her nose. She had sunglasses on, big ones, but I could guess from her appearance that her eyes were a light blue, a blue that pounces on top of you, the type that dazzled you to see, because it seems impossible for eyes to be such a bright shade of anything. Her hair, flowing and long, was platinum blonde, and her posture, even when sitting, showed very obviously that she towered above most by an inch or two. Sleek as well, not unlike a blonde Audrey Hephern, my very own Holly Golightly.

"I'm sorry." I put down my coffee and put on my most confused face. "Do you need something?" "Just act as if were good friends, blend in."

"Why?" I chuckled as I noticed blending in wasn't that hard for me.

"My ex is trying to find me, he's become more of a stalker, really. I can't get rid of him, and I'm doing my best to blend into the crowd found within this coffee shop as he passes by."

I looked out the window, immediately spying with my eye a muscular man—lacking hair except across his upper lip, with a dragon tattooed across his neck—continuing down under his white tank top, passing by the front of the shop. As soon as he passed by, I made her aware. "He's gone."

"The stunningly handsome bald man with the ravishing dragon artwork stretching across his back?" I rolled my eyes.

"Yes, that man."

"Well, then, you can buy me a coffee while I put myself at ease." She relaxed her shoulders and leaned back onto her seat whilst taking her glasses off.

Amazingly blue eyes, what did I say.

I ordered another coffee and took a sip of my own, in a bit of a fumble. She giggled at me tripping over my chair. Upon returning to the table, we lay upon silence for a while. Finally, I thought of something to talk to her of and grabbed my courage—I would need it. "Why did you break up with the man?"

"Who, Charles?" She assumed I knew her ex's name.

"Assuming Charles has a giant dragon across his back, yes."

"Ah, he was much too rough with me, everywhere, and he had horrible taste to boot. That awful trash metal. I honestly can't listen to anything that lacks in poetical lyrics and a smooth singing voice."

"I see. I'm the same way—can't listen to it if they aren't singing about something fascinating." That whole sentence was pulled straight out of my ass. I couldn't give half a damn what I listened to. Why lie?

She looked at me quizzically. "What's your name?"

"Timothy. Timothy Burns," I replied.

"Nice to meet you, Tim. I'm Alice Goffren." She held out her hand and I took it, shaking politely.

It was in that precise moment that I realized that I wasn't alone anymore. There was someone else there with me in this big world. For the first time in my giant sad life, I wasn't by myself.

And we talked for hours that day. I forgot about my job—I didn't figure it important. I didn't get fired, so there was no worry. The rest of the week flew by. Before I knew it, it was Friday afternoon and I was home. Upon returning home, a man was sitting aside my front step. I took my keys out, and he approached me.

"Tim Burns?" he asked. The man was tall and muscular, but appropriate and business-like at the same time. He was at least six foot five, and he had bold sideburns.

"Yes, and you are?" was my retort. I tried acting a bit more tough than I really was, because to be honest, I was a bit afraid of this man.

"I'm Jeffery Owens, a friend of Alice's."

My eyes widened immediately. "Ah, yes, how is Alice?" "She's well. Of course, you should know that she's having a New Year's party tomorrow night. She's asked me to invite you for her."

"She couldn't have invited me herself?"

"Well, she's very busy, being the newest manager of a modeling company of the New York City branch." As if I had known.

However, it was irrelevant—she had invited me to a party! Me, the biggest loser in New York! Now I knew that I had found something to live for.

The night of the party came, and I dressed in my sharpest suit. I was told it wasn't exactly a casual party, hence worries of my look.

Amongst arriving, I found most people were dressed much nicer than me, and they all seemed to be people working under Alice, a very small few of them working above her. This party was brought up because Alice was looking to impress her boss. I had thought as much was possible. It didn't matter that she had invited me to a business party, though I was prepared to inquire why. What mattered was that Alice had invited me to a party at all. Four hours at a coffee shop had brought me up from being a lonely man with absolutely no life to being a man with a goal, an aspiring dream.

It was twenty minutes after my arrival that I finally found Alice, actually. I didn't hold it against her—being the host of a business dinner party in such a huge place, with so many guests, as I have seen enough bad sitcoms in all my days of sitting on my couch and watching television, would be more than difficult.

I lost my head in her beauty once more upon seeing her. "I'm so glad you could make it, Tim!" She did sound excited; my smile grew in size and stupidity.

"Wouldn't have missed it for the world, Alice. But, uh, would you mind telling me why you invited me to a party like this? We aren't exactly business partners or anything." I shook her hand in ecstasy once again, reuniting myself with her warm palm.

"Well, Tim, a dinner hostess does not much look appropriate without a date of her own." It took a second for it to hit me, but once the words that she spoke flew into my ear and corresponded with my mind, I could have sworn I was ready to jump into the air and swing from her glass chandelier.

She'd invited me here as her date! This was the first time that I wasn't a loser by himself, the first time that I had somebody by my side, or in these circumstances, I was by somebody's side.

The party went along smoothly. I was introduced to all of Alice's coworkers, employees, and employers. The dinner itself was excellent and very organized. Though that night I had firmly decided against alcoholic beverages, Alice forced them upon me, and I found myself satisfying my quench for thirst with an expensive wine along the whole evening.

Then, the minute that beckoned us to this fancy hall had arrived. It was 11:59 December 31st, 1998. And as the countdown arrived, people chanted 5, 4, 3, 2, and at 1, everything slowed down for me. Everyone in the party cheered, their glasses held up as high as their arms could reach. Some even jumped in the air, caught in gravity's wake. For me, though, everything was frozen, and my life flashed before my eyes.

It is now December 31st, 2006, and I am home, in the dark, watching a cheap game-show on my small television. My daughter, Abigail, is in the other room playing. She is the spitting image of her mother in every single way, and I have to see her every day and try not to cry. We have just arrived home from school and work, and we are both sullen. We've both been sullen for the last seven years. That would count as all of Abigail's life. And when she turns eight in twelve more months we will still be sullen. And I know that all of this is my fault. Abigail is here because of me. She has been sad all her life because I have been sad all her life, and she will grow up to hate her father because of me. I will continue to raise her as I go into a downward spiral of life, waiting for my final moment to come when I can say "finally" and then be gone forever. And I can only regret, because all of this is my fault. I will leave the house, dressing in my warmest jacket and scarf, and tell Abigail "Don't leave the house." And I will simply walk out the door.

I will walk down the streets of New York City and watch as people rejoice with their families and loved ones, and I can only be jealous of what they have. The worst part is that when they count down 5, 4, 3, 2, I will know that Alice is no longer alive, and I have no one to hate for it—I have only myself. And when that 1 arrives, in screams and yelps, glasses being held high by tender arms, and cheers and hoorays because 2007 has come, life for me pauses, in the middle of the street in New York City, and I am brought back to Earth.

Alice called my name. "Tim, Tim!" I looked at her with a smile, trying to hide what I had just seen. She asked, truly concerned, "Tim, are you alright?" It was then that I realized that I was alright, but that in eight years I wouldn't be. In eight years I would be right back where I started.