I wasn’t hungry.
No, listen, it’s about work.
That damn rattling had woken me.
Just breath. The nightmare had passed.
The grey paneling of my ceiling said nothing back as I swore to it. “Bastard. Faggot. Mongoloid… Uh… fuck.” I couldn’t go on, couldn’t think.
The hour I lay in bed before going back to sleep each night was like being dead.
I couldn’t take the alternative. No more lights. I didn’t plug in anymore.
At a certain point, I had to make the choice. My body couldn’t handle the strobes in my skull.
The wires dangled in the air beside my bed. That was my last thought as I started to drift off, watching them sway in the draft of my air vent’s flow.
There was no sinking or sense of time. I never had the memories of what I dreamt, only the impressions they left of meaning.
My alarm clock started screaming at me.
The floor met my bare toes as I threw back my covers automatically. My phone was across the room, blasting cellos. I stumbled to the dresser. As I lifted it up to swipe away the noise, my thumb brushed over the cracks there. I unlocked it with the code I knew by heart and checked my text messages.
I stared at it.
The rain was beating against the floor to ceiling glass of my window. The shades blocked the light, but not the noise.
I waved my hand. “Open.”
There was a grinding sound as the automatic blinds locked up.
“Fuck.” I waved my hand again. No reaction. “…Trash, you-” my jaw locked as I started. “Agh, shit,” I groaned. The pain flared up in my chest, throwing me against the dresser, almost to the floor.
I gripped the metal edge tightly, but my hands slipped, letting me crash down.
Once landed, I settled in. I had to suffer it to pass. This was nothing unfamiliar.
I was rated for just under a billion beats. I swear they wanted me dead sooner. Less than a billion pulses? That was the warranty on my metal heart. After that, all bets were off.
People had a funny way of dying once the equipment could be refurbished, you’ll notice.
I laughed, lying there.
God knows I was burning my time.
But I couldn’t stay. So, I sat up. Then, I pulled myself higher.
Standing to walk, my fingers brushed the center pillar of the room as I circled around it to the open kitchen.
I pulled out the plastic ramen cooker that I needed. Unwrapping the package of dried noodles and putting it in with water to the fill line, I started the timer to stand in the microwave’s warm glow. Nothing but its hum occupied my thoughts for the time it took to cook.
My watch read six thirty-five.
I didn’t plan to shower before work. I planned to eat and wait until I had to walk out. At the last moment, I would run to the elevator, ride it down, and catch the subway. In all that time I would check my phone every now and then, though it wasn’t really mine.
The cramped space of my apartment was massive compared to the one I used to have. The relief of claustrophobia was something I thought about every morning.
Without warning, the blinds popped open, flying back as the motors sorted themselves out.
The sickly blue light of the Disney advertisement rose colossally over my building. It was brighter than natural daylight.
I squinted and sneezed.
This, just as the microwave beeped.
I took out my instant noodles and sat down at the table. There was nothing to do as it cooled but wait.
I was dying, but it wasn’t so dramatic.
“Yeah,” I said to my noodles.
These are my motions.
Strained tethers to a story I have no part in.
Perhaps you’re wondering where the story went?
Maybe I’d figure it out. Maybe I’d get a text. Maybe I’d jump out of my skin. More likely, I would be thinking the same thing tomorrow morning. Someday I’d feel like jumping or running, but both were harder than this.
I put the flavor packet in and stirred.
Living on the edge.