There's lots of reasons for what we do. We work for money, we socialise for friends. We rest for work, we live for enjoyment. It just does circles, the way of life. Again and again. Over and over. Repeating and repeating.
The alarm went off at 3:00AM. Beeping and wailing. Louder and louder. Ringing in my ears. My head pounded with a newfound headache. I groaned and sat up. I pressed on the stop button on my clock. Silence flooded in, but not peacefully. It's the same routine. Get up, brush my teeth, get dressed, put on some foundation if my skin is extra dull, feed my hamsters, not have time for breakfast but wish I did, grab my purse, fix my hair at the mirror next to the door, go out the door, forget to take the trash out and go back in to grab it, go out the door again and lock it, get in my car and go to work. I slump down in my chair and look at the clock, 5:00AM. I feel exhausted already and daylight hasn't even begun to leak through the window seated behind me. I'm the second person in the office, the other being the janitor. I sit down at my desk, all the other desks surrounding me. I've never felt so claustrophobic. There's a stack of messy papers on my desk and I sigh before starting on them. A few people slowly make their way into the office and into their usual places, all looking fresh and lively. I wonder what makes them so happy and look so bright. At 8:45AM everyone has arrived. The usual order of things starts again. Agatha hands in her latest article to the Boss, the Boss praises Agatha for her usual early entry and good work, Madison gets her coffee with five sugars and then makes another one which she uses to flirt with Adam, Tina comes and asks me what time I came and when I say the usual she looks upset and disappointed, everyone buzzes about how the newest newspaper was a hit, the Boss sends Agatha to give me my tasks for the day, none of my tasks involve reporting on a topic and writing an article about it which is what a journalist is supposed to do which is my job, Felix brings me a coffee and asks if I'm okay, Chris comes over and talks with Felix and I, we talk for a bit and laugh, I feel a bit better about the day, June tells us off for being loud and we go back to work, everyone works in a broken silence for the rest of the day, Tina, Chris, Felix and I all go to dinner and I order a small salad, they all laugh and talk about the day, I can't help but feel sad at the fact that I feel no happiness, we all finish and someone pays, we all go our separate ways, I go home, take a shower and go to bed, I sit in bed and finish editing others reports and sort through other stuff, I finally decide I need to go to bed, I get to sleep. 1:00AM. I get up at 3:00AM, and repeat. That's my day but it's also my week, my weekend, my fortnight, my month, my year, my life. -Yuna
I wake up with my head pounding from last night. Music blaring, everyone drinking, headaches for days. I get a text from my friend, Mark. The notification ding sounds so loud and hurts. I look at it even though I know what it says. 'Great party last night, get ready to hit the gym in twenty, there's another one tonight.' I groan as I sit up. Everything looks closer than before. It's normal to me now though. I grab a singlet and shrug it on. My hair is a mess but who really cares. I can't remember when I last brushed my hair, not that it really matters since it's so short. Not like it's long and tangles easily like a girl. I put shorts on and lace up my shoes. I grab a protein shake and hit the town. I only need to walk a block before I hit a gym. It's expensive but close to my apartment so it's easy to get to when I can't drive. I think about last night. It's all a haze like usual but I don't think I drunk much. Who really knows though? I meet Mark and Jack outside and they glare at me as I grin.
'You're late,' Jack snaps and Mark nods. I apologise and look at the clock on my phone. I only took ten minutes since the time Mark texted. I groan as I should've known by now that he never means that actual time. Always earlier. Never too early to socialise. Even when parties run until four in the morning from starting at eight. Even when it's five and I supposedly don't need sleep. Not even a full hour. We do two hours of gym work and I can barely keep up but I don't falter. They don't seem tired so I don't need to be either. Afterwards we grab lunch with some girls that have been set up. I'm not interested and end up zoning out. I get yelled at by Mark for it though. I simply listen to the same usual words. If I bite back, they'll leave me. It's a small city and everyone knows Mark and Jack. They know me too, but only because of them. Without them, my reputation might as well not exist. I might as well not exist. Routine, it's all routine. If you break it then it breaks you. I learned that quickly enough. Afterwards we get pre-drinks and head to Mark's huge house. More like a mansion actually. One of the only ones in the city. Definitely not common. After that, another party. Everywhere I turn there's always someone I know. Always talking, always socialising. They all know me, I know some of them. I laugh at jokes I don't understand, I talk even when I can't hear because of the music blaring, I listen when all I can pay attention to is the rotating bright lights that reflect everywhere. Everyone seems to have fun but I can't really bring myself to smile, not really. I can't leave because there's always someone that will tell, always people watching your every move. Always ready to tell Mark or Jack in hopes of becoming their favoured one. So instead I zone out. Repeat the same party routine. Talking and joking. Drinking and stumbling. I feel like a lifeless being, not actually there but there so I can be there. Eventually but not soon enough, it all ends. I end up in my bed, somehow. The day repeats with the headaches, the texts, and the gym. Again and again. Routine. -Barry
It's changed. It has all changed. It's 9:00AM and I'm still in bed. I can't move, I slept up until an hour ago but now I can't bring myself to move. My phone is on my nightstand and I remember putting it on silent. Why did I do that? I'm not sure. I barely remember doing it, I just remember it being that way. Missed calls fill my notifications, four from Tina, five from Felix and ten from Chris. A number pops up on my phone for an incoming call. Chris.
"You finally picked up!"
"Sorry, I don't know what happened, I slept in,"
"Good, you need some sleep. You've been awfully dull lately and it's kind of hard to see,"
"But I need to get to work! I have so many papers to do!"
"Then why aren't you coming?"
"… I … can't,"
"Don't worry about work today, I'll cover for you. Spend a day to yourself… Oh! And pack your things for a trip, swimmers included,"
"What?! Why? For how long?"
"Don't worry, you can buy things at the place if you run out, it's a surprise, but bring a lot," With that he hangs up. I put the phone on my stand and fall back asleep.
3:00PM. I almost mistake it for AM and panic. I'm still on the same routine. After all I don't deserve a holiday. I don't deserve a break. I reread the clock and realise. I slept majority of the day away. I manage to drag myself out of bed. I go about my usual routine but I feel lighter, almost. I get out my suitcase. I had to look a lot for it first as I haven't used it for years. It's old and tattered. I feel embarrassed of how much dust is on it so I throw it out. I gather my things and head into town for a shopping trip I had no idea I needed. I get a bit carried away. I buy a suitcase, new swimmers, some summery clothes to fit the season and some other bits and pieces. I haven't been in a clothes shop for ages as I usually keep to the supermarket and stationary shop. I get back home an hour later and begin packing.
The next day I hear a car pulling into the road. I look out and see its Chris. I grab my suitcase and feel a bit awkward in my casual clothes. I usually only wear my work clothes and my sleepwear. I go downstairs and stand next to his car. The boot pops and I put my suitcase in. I get in the back and greet Felix sitting next to me. Tina sits in the front passenger seat next to the driver's seat which is occupied by Chris. Next thing I know, we're all flying down the highway heading who knows where. Music plays from the speakers which is on Tina's playlist. We all sing along, in such a good mood. I can't remember the last time I felt this way. This free feeling. I laugh into the breeze swimming in from the window. We've been on the road for so long now. Night is beginning to seep into the skies. Felix has taken over the driver's seat. Music is still playing but it's much quieter now as Tina has fallen asleep and Chris' head is slowly dropping. An hour later brings us to Chris' head is resting on my shoulder, he's asleep, Felix is still driving and refuses to let me take over as he's not tired, Tina is asleep, the music is on a low sound setting but it's still able to be heard, Felix and I quietly chat as the road trip is nearing an end. We pull up at our stop at 5:00am. We're right next to an ocean that seems to stretch forever. By now Chris is driving again and Felix is currently sleeping. I slept for a few hours but I'm not tired, I feel so light and happy. A huge cruise ship takes up next to the wharf and I laugh from joy.
"We're going on a cruise?"
Everyone is woken up and we grab our things. We make our way onto the boat and go to our designated cabins. We're in a room that's connected to the one next to ours with a door in the wall. I'm sharing a room with Tina and Felix and Chris share the one that's joint to ours. Tina flops down onto her bed and laughs.
"I never thought we'd actually get a break from that place, it feels so weird," I nod to her statement in agreement. I feel so weird. I'd be filing through papers at this point, not even thinking of ever taking a holiday. We had some spare time before we were going to meet for breakfast so I called my mother for the first time in many months. I explained my situation and even cried a bit. Hearing her voice is so amazing. We met for breakfast and laughed before going on with looking around the ship. So much to do, so many people to meet. So much fun to be had. I laugh at the joy that continues bubbling more and more inside me. We're stopping at places all over the world and there's even more activities in those places. Adventures and memories. I want to enjoy it for all it is. The days fly past but they don't. I remember every minute of all of them. I feel so free for the first time in too long. I don't want it to end but it does eventually. We make our way back on the long road trip. We're all still buzzing from all the fun and high spirits. But I start work on the Monday. Two days of relaxing at home, then work. But it's going to be different. Routine isn't for me. I realise that now. I refuse to ever feel as helpless and ruined as before. I find it funny that I needed a high to realise how low I was. On Monday I feel different. I get there on 8:45am. On the dot, maybe a bit later. I greet Felix and Chris as I walk in and they smile and look happier than ever before. I get a coffee, before Madison does which puts her off, I make another for Tina and greet her at her desk, she smiles when I tell her I just got here, I sneak into The Boss's office just as Agatha was about to, Agatha glares at me while holding her assignment, I stand at The Boss's desk.
"What do you want?"
"I've come to tell you a few things and make a few demands,"
"You're in no position to do that so no,"
"Actually I am. I was employed as a journalist, I haven't been assigned a task for my proper job and therefore you are wrongly paying me. I will not be overloaded with work otherwise I will put in a complaint to head of staff that I don't get any rest and am overworked which interferes with my mental health as I get barely any sleep. If you do not give my proper work then I will leave this company and I will report this place to head of staff for all the reasons I have already stated… I expect my new assignment tomorrow otherwise I will be packing my things and finding a workplace that respects me." And with that I walk out the door with my head a little higher. I sit at my desk and finish off my papers that I am assured that either way my statement goes, I won't be doing them again unless that's what I'm employed for. The Boss comes out of her office and stands in front of my desk.
"You're fired." I look her in the eyes and smile. I figured that would happen and I was prepared. I grab a box and keep that smile on my face. I pack my things away and walk towards the door, thinking I would never have to see that office again. But I look back especially as I hear a voice call out.
"I quit then," its Tina, she grabs a prepared box out from under her desk and packs her things too.
"I quit too,"
"I do too." It's Chris and Felix. I didn't expect this. They shouldn't leave because of me but I see their face and see what I did. I gave them hope. They hate this job as much as I do. The Boss looks at a loss of words. We all grab our stuff and walk out together. We order pizza and go to my apartment. We laugh off the day and I realise it's all going to be better. I had already found a job that was eager to have me. It's a small company and not well-known but I saw the great potential in it. When I told them about my friend's situation, they agreed to let them work there too. I was beyond happy. A few years later sees it as this. I love my job as I get to report all the things I didn't even know was happening, our company has grown so much that we're at the level my past company was at, my past company has dropped so much after my complaint and the lack of staff, I'm working with Felix, Chris and Tina still but we've made so many other friends too, I get weekends off and we all plan things to do on some of them. I've never had a more free routine. But it's not a routine, not anymore. I'm happy for once and enjoy each day. I love my life and I can't believe it - Yuna
I'm broken. My phone was ringing too much so I put it on silent while I went over my mistakes. I did it. I actually did it. I felt nothing though. I only feel scared and worried. Worried about what I did. I did too many things. Made too many mistakes. All in one night. It had to be done though. Didn't it? I look at my phone and see all the missed calls. All the texts and run my hands through my hair. There's one text I do open though. From a real estate agent. For a house halfway across the country. What have I done? I remember having enough. I was done. With Mark and Jack. With all the parties. With all the people. I left halfway though. Recently Mark and Jack have made a joke of making fun of me and seeing how far they can go with it. Before I snap, before I get up and leave them. It was fine until they did it in front of a whole party. And the joke was far from just a harmless laugh. So I grabbed my things, a box of pizza, some beers and left, slamming the front door behind me. I could almost hear their laughs trailing behind. I simply walked and walked. I managed to get to my house an hour later. I sat there, staring at a wall. Eating and drinking. Staring and wondering. What went so wrong? I woke up in my bed. I got up and got ready for the day. I actually washed my hair in the shower today. It feels weird knowing I don't have to get to the gym as quick as I can. I take my time to enjoy the luxury of getting ready with nowhere to be. I go down to a store to borrow some boxes to pack my stuff. I think I see Mark and Jack with someone else across the street but I don't stay there long enough for them to see me. Let them talk all they want, let them joke all they want. It doesn't affect me now. Not anymore. I go home and start packing for a new life. A new future. It begins soon.
I'm renting a truck to put all my stuff in from a guy named Zac. The truck is old and dusty but it will do. On the drive there, lots of bugs flew around my head, coming from the truck. I ate a few bugs. When I finally got there I realised what I did. My house was amazing. Not the old apartment I had before but an actual house. Modern and beautiful. I dropped my stuff inside and began the long trip back to my house to drop off the truck and get my car to drive back. The next day I dedicated myself to preparing the house for myself. I set up my bed, tables and chairs. I furnished the house with only needing to run to the furniture store down the street twice. The house finally looks perfect, mine. I went to the gym the next day. Only because I wanted to, not because I was being told to. There I met a group of tight friends that introduced me to the gym and offered for me to catch lunch with them afterwards. I smiled and agreed. They asked me about myself and I answered truthfully, about all my mistakes and how I left not wanting to make them again. They all were super polite and asked if I wanted to join their gym group. I of course agreed again and gave them my number. I went home happy at the life that is going so well.
It's been a while and I'm super happy. My friends from the gym have become my family and I couldn't be happier. Madison from the gym is my new girlfriend and Chris has introduced me to his group of friends who are called Felix, Tina and Yuna. We all get together on weekends and their bond is stronger than I've ever seen before. Yuna is extra special, she told me what happened to her and I told of what happened to me and she understood completely. Everything is so much better now. It will be, always and forever. -Barry