You come home and turn on the tv. What is on you wonder as you click through the channels. You might be slightly drunk from dinner, from a few after work. It has already started. You pass the news and more news, maybe pausing on some reality dating show or some cooking show, before you find a movie a couple year’s old that looks safe and inviting. What the fuck, you think, it’s just one movie. A couple hours. You can take care of stuff after that. But then after it, you’re tired and just want to go to bed but you know you should really do the other stuff. But let’s be honest. You’re tired. You’re tired from working at the company. There’s nothing wrong with that. You are allowed to be tired. What the fuck. You work hard. You work hard for the money like some pop singer said. You liked her. You hum the song for a few beats. You know you have other stuff to do. Other stuff that is more important than this tv or that movie or drinks or, maybe, even sleep. But you’re fucking tired. All that shit you have to do at work tomorrow. Jesus. Your morning is already fucked, you know it, and maybe you might have time in the afternoon to catch up but you’re not sure. In fact, you doubt it. You know that. It’s a pipe dream as they say. And maybe you already got someone in your bed, that warm bed, someone waiting for you, or maybe not. Maybe it’s empty. Maybe it’s still a tangle of sheets from last night’s bad dream, but it’s your tangle so there’s not a driving reason to walk in there.
And for a second, while the tv is muted and you’re not thinking about pop songs or about whether you have a nice, warm inviting body in your bed, you look around your living room and you wonder, you wonder what the fuck, what the fuck is this all about. You feel it, and are afraid of it, for a second. Because you know, you really know, that the tv doesn’t mean anything, that the movie is shit, that work tomorrow, let’s face it, work tomorrow is meaningless, you can go to your grave without any work tomorrow mattering in the big scheme of things. And that you got very little else. You want to stand up and beat your chest and declare I am here. But no, no, you think, fuck that. Maybe my work doesn’t have to change the world, fuck it, I don’t have to change the world, it’s not my fucking responsibility, it’s not my cross to bear, fuck you, you can’t hang that weight on me. I don’t need that kind of pressure. I got bills to pay and people to feed. I got obligations. I need my job for that. I’m allowed to watch crappy movies and have a couple drinks and just close out the night so I can do it again tomorrow, motherfucker. Motherfuckers! I am just one person! I’m just human. There is nothing riding on me! Just let me work and watch tv and hum stupid pop songs because I am no one. I mean nothing. I mean nothing to anyone. I am insignificant! You know, if I want, let me travel the world, let me waste away my time how I see fit. I could buy a ticket to Paris right now or Rome, I could go to Rome or a thousand other places. I can call in and tell them I’m sick for the week, I can go explore the world!
But you won’t explore the world. You know you won’t. You wish you could but you can’t. You are here. In this tiny living room with this big tv and your phone and your calendar that has already outlined your day tomorrow and the day after tomorrow in red, and it’d be so easy to turn in, wouldn’t it, so easy to turn in and not do the things for yourself, it’d be so easy to turn in.
Ron Burch’s short stories have been published in Mississippi Review, Cheap Pop, PANK and others. He’s been nominated for a Pushcart, and his first novel “Bliss Inc.” was published by BlazeVOX Books. www.ronburch.com.