You are lucky you are dead.
Monday begins, as it always does for me, jammed into a metal can with eight hundred other poor fuckers. We are burrowing our way through tunnels hidden deep beneath the streets of London. Going nowhere fast, as usual. The weight of the River Thames rushes unheard, somewhere overhead.
The early commuters respect the edict of absolute silence, following its doctrine as if the carriage were unoccupied. No tourists are present at this hour to break the unwritten law. To speak on the London Underground is a distinct, un-British activity, don’t you know.
In the crush of bodies, there is no room for accessing my own entertainment this morning. I am apathetic. So I resign myself to Fleetwood Mac, leaking from cheap headphones somewhere behind. Or snatching passages of Dickens, from the dog-earred paperback of a passenger in front.
A man to my left grows more tomato-faced by the minute. What little hair he owns is splayed across his damp scalp. The buttons of his shirt strain across his girth. Sweat marks have appeared at the pits of his suit jacket. On the spot I make a promise to myself. I am going to eat healthier, drink less coffee, resume my running and make sure I sort out my work to life balance. In truth I will commit to none of these; again.
I exit the station and am confronted by an Autumn London morning. The street is a bobbing sea of black umbrellas, each attached to a scurrying commuter beneath. I push open the door of the coffee shop and run a hand through my slick hair. Over an Espresso, I check the news and the sport on my phone for overnight updates. I ignore the missed call from our Mum, opting to text Nicole to say I love her. I think for a moment about perusing my work email, but resist. I put my phone away. From my regular seat by the window, I watch the world pass.
The rain stops. Ants fill the streets, a series of black dots scuttling towards offices. They cross at designated spots, neat lines of regular purpose flowing in every direction. Hurry ants, quick, before the clouds rupture once more. I too live this familiar routine of torpor. The daily routine where the direction I take is against my own will. I am not sure if this is coming across, but let me be clear: I am dissatisfied with my job.
My desk is in a room with no windows and no doors. The colleague with which I share the space is one of the most flatulent men it has been my displeasure to know. My work is not exciting. I am in a lull between deadlines, so the craziness of last month is unremembered. My emails are clear by lunchtime so I can take myself out for a languid sushi. My colleague asks where I am going and in fear of him offering to join, I tell him I am going to the dentist. ‘Again?’ he asks, and I nod in affirmation as I leave.
The afternoon passes with interminable slowness. I spend it plugged into my headphones, searching for the perfect funeral song to which I can take my leave. My colleague watches shemale anal porn on his laptop in the corner, demonstrating a careless abandon for which I feel deep jealousy – of his balls not her balls, to be clear.
Nicole texts to ask what time I will be home tonight. I tell her I must attend drinks with the team after work. She asks if I can I pick up some dinner on the way home, suggesting sushi. I say of course, but resolve to pretend they are sold out, and instead buy steak and a nice red. I text to ask if I can take her up the ass tonight. She replies, asking if I can also get some gyozas.
And so the days go. I get through to bed time, which itself is a form of success, I suppose. Each morning I wonder if I will triumph again, and so far have I always have done. That said, I am uncertain I know what appearance failure takes.
We are all contemplating there must be more to life. Yet ‘more’ is unachievable without effort on our part, and that is too exhausting to undertake. Especially as there are drinks with the team after work.
Fuck. I wish I were dead too.