“It Could Be Worse,” Fodderwing, Winter/Spring 1999

Short Story – excerpt

You are mashing your naked, chapped lips together while standing in front of the elevators at your god-forsaken job, fingering the lipstick in your pocket that you wished you had put on in the car, and now have to wait until you get to the ladies lounge.  The carpal tunnel in your left hand is already starting to throb at the thought of pounding the keyboard for yet another day of coding for the-man-upstairs.  The doctor told you to wear your wrist brace, avoid salt and caffeine, and please try to de-stress.  De-stress hell.  

You’re late because you can’t get going because you can’t drink your coffee because of the stupid ulcer because of the god-forsaken job and now you have a headache and you ran out of Zantac yesterday and you pretty much feel like no one gives a shit so why should you.  You smooth the now blonde hair you spent all last night dyeing and think about how long it will take to get split ends as you look at yourself in the mirrored elevator door.  

You rub your nose and wipe your hand across your dry lips without thinking, trying to let your mind go blank.  Maybe it’s possible to achieve some sort of Zen meditative state, where you can sleepwalk through work and come alive when they hand you the paycheck on your way out the door Friday night; to consciously live your nights and unconsciously dredge for the money during the day.  You feel your stomach twinge and your spirit drop as you think about your nights, lonely and boring as they are, and consider that your life is pretty much a slightly overweight black-and-white photograph of no consequence, no color except for your golden retriever, Boris, that your hair now matches.  People always look like their dogs.  Maybe this is the first step?

“It Could Be Worse,” Fodderwing, Winter/Spring 1999

Edited by Edward Allan Faine

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