It was probably ten o’ clock on a cold winter morning. There was a light which fell directly on her face waking her up. It was a big crack on the nearer side of the window that the small curtains couldn’t cover.
She had meant to get the crack fixed. She had even called a guy last week.But nobody seemed to pick up the call most of the time and the one time they did,they kept saying ‘we can’t hear you’. It’s one thing for people to ignore her in person knowing that she wasn’t a very attractive person nor had a great personality but it’s another thing to ignore her over a call when they didn’t even know her.
Her mirror was fixated in such a place that her face would be the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes in the morning. She could see the dark circles under her eyes,eyes that had lost all the sparkle and just looked plain dead,emotionless.She also noticed a small cut in the corner of her lips as a result of all her lip-biting thanks to anxiety.She didn’t really like the position of the mirror in her bedroom but that’s how it came attached and she didn’t have the luxury to reject rent controlled apartments based on positioning of mirrors .
She sat up on the bed,her hair all tangled and disheveled. She noticed so many strands of hair on her pillow that it got her wondering if she would go bald very soon. She didn’t like the quality or the color of her hair either. She wished she was a redhead with shades of blonde.
She reached for the second drawer on her night-stand vaguely noticing the dust that had accumulated on it ,trying to avoid the fact that she probably hadn’t dusted her house for over a month. She lit a cigarette and stared at the crack on the window. She had never quite looked out of the window of her apartment. People always said cold winter mornings are the best. They are beautiful. Well she didn’t care to know and something tells her she probably never will.She got out of bed ,stubbing the cigarette bud with her left foot on the floor.
She went to the kitchen to make herself some coffee.On opening the fridge she found out that her milk had expired three days ago and so did some of the other dairy products. She really had taken a hit on life. She was thirty and alone,she did a boring job that paid decently enough most of the time but her value at work was close to zero. They could very well just call her on a casual Monday morning and lay her off without prior notice and it wouldn’t harm anybody but her. Lately she has been very disorganized,not completely herself. She hadn’t done any laundry for weeks,nor did she want to give the dirty dishes in the sink another thought. It’ll come around,she told herself. Things will get better. Maybe it’s the winters. Cold and gloomy. Made her lazy.
She entered the washroom and looked through her pile of magazines stacked up in one corner next to the basin while brushing her teeth. It was a habit of hers to buy a magazine every evening on the way home from work and read it while she went about her business in the washroom in the morning. She noticed that she hadn’t bought any in the past one week. The last one was from Thursday, the week before. She was running a little short of money this week but that’s okay,she would be getting her salary on the 25th again and she could just buy all the magazines that she missed out on in the past one week.
She sat on the pot while she flipped through the pages of an old one while humming a new song that she heard on the radio in an old bar a few weeks back. Her favorite section in the magazine were the female models. She admired and envied them at the same time. How could they have such flawless skin,such perfect hair,that tiny waist,those perfect curves and not a single ounce of fat where it’s not supposed to be.
She looked down from her magazine noticing her big bulging tummy and she couldn’t help but give a short laugh.Well,she deserved it. She ate like a pig and didn’t work out much.
She waited by the running shower for fifteen minutes for the water to get warm but it was still ice cold.She raised her arm, smelled her underarms and realized that she stunk. Now that she thought about it,she hadn’t taken a shower in a while. It’s super cold in the month of December and it’s tough to take a shower every single day,sometimes not even for weeks.God she needed a proper bath. After waiting for another fifteen minutes,she decided against it. She’ll have to make it work with perfumes for today. She’ll call a guy tomorrow.
She sat on the bed in her towel staring at her wardrobe which didn’t have a single new addition in the past one year. It was a real pain every morning trying to figure out what to wear when everyone at work showed up in new clothes every single day as if it was a crime to repeat clothes or something. She suddenly remembered that she had ordered two new shirts from a new fashion website that she had recently found online. She checked the status of the order and it showed “Out for delivery”. It’s strange. That was a status even a week ago. Deep inside she knew she should never have trusted new websites or gone for their fancy clothes at low prices .It was too good to be true.
She stepped out of her house,locked the front door,left the maintenance money under the doormat in an envelope for the building security to pick up later in the day. While she stood waiting for the elevator,the old woman of seventy who lived next door also stepped out and stood next to her for the elevator. She greeted her but the old woman didn’t reply, just turned to look at her and gave a long hard unflinching stare.She found that very odd and insulting and then she suddenly remembered the fight she had with old woman’s husband over two months back ,something related to taking out the trash late at night. It had felt like an irrelevant conversation at that time but clearly the old couple knew how to hold a grudge over trivial matters. She already had issues with low self esteem,she didn’t need another old woman’s ignorance towards her making it worse.
By the time she stepped out of the building,it had started raining heavily. It got immensely difficult to hail a cab. Most of them were occupied and the ones that weren’t,just went past her like she was invisible,like she wasn’t screaming at the top of her voice and frantically waving at them to stop.
Deciding that it was futile trying to get hold of a cab,she walked towards the bus stop. It would get her late for work but it didn’t matter. She wasn’t of much significance there and nobody would miss her nor would hell break over if she was an hour or two late.As the bus approached the stop,a huge crowd rushed towards it,pushing each other to reach the front even before the automatic doors had opened. It always surprised her how so many people could all fit in through a small door in no time when everyone was in a hurry and yet it took her thirty minutes to get to the front of the line at Starbucks even with three people standing in front of her.
As she was fighting her own battle to get onto the bus,a very nice man held the door for her before they could shut,and right behind me was a pregnant lady. She got up,thanked the gentleman and helped him hold the door for the woman as well. The woman was also nice,gave both of them a smile and thanked them. She was probably in her fifth or sixth month and had a beautiful glow on her face. Good for her,she thought. The bus was so overly crowded that she had to stand all the way to work but the best part was,nobody noticed that she hadn’t bought a ticket. Guess,going unnoticed sometimes wasn’t always so bad.
She always hated the moment as she entered the office building every single day.She hated the look of it,the people who didn’t care about one another and it reminded her of all the exciting opportunities that existed in the world outside and the amazing work many people did. It probably just gave her a reality check every damn day that it was too late for her to change her life. A tad bit too late.
She waved at the pretty receptionist Dana,who looked up but didn’t respond. But it’s okay,Dana was a bitch anyway. She could be sitting there getting paid to paint her nails all day and still act cocky and superior to her. She decided Dana wasn’t worth giving another thought about.
She was over two hours late for work and frankly now she was a little surprised that nobody called her from work screaming at the other end about her tardiness. She tried punching her card in the hole to enter the office but it constantly showed that the card had expired. Just what she needed on the day she was already so late. She looked at the line where they gave out temporary cards and gave out a sigh.
She stood in that line for another forty minutes. For some reason people kept cutting in front of her unapologetically, making her the last in line every single time. She was running out of patience,losing her mind slowly but she didn’t have the courage to tell them off or go to the back of the line which was behind her. She really really needed to work on her self-confidence. This world wasn’t meant for the survival of weak people.
Finally after an hour , she reached to the front of the line. She spelled out her name while handing over her identification to the woman with the badge sitting infront of the computer. The woman stared up at her for a second or two and then behind her. She shouted “Is there anyone else who needs a temporary card? We’re breaking for lunch now”. The lady repeated that twice and all that while she was standing right there with her card in hand.
It was outrageous. She knew she didn’t have a great personality ,had a forgettable face and that greatly affected her self-esteem for years. She had her days,her moods and despite all that she still tried to stay positive. But this was a new low,a rock bottom. A person who is obligated to do her duties towards her was ignoring her blatantly . Maybe there’s a staff management she could complain to. It was unacceptable.
She opened her mouth to say something when she noticed the paper on the table next to the computer which was dated yesterday.
In a small column in the obituary section next to the booming headlines about the rise in price of oil which would obviously be the first thing people noticed as opposed to the news of dead people,there it was.In fact she also missed it in the first glance and it probably wouldn’t have caught her eyes either if the name wasn’t familiar.
“Joan Morgan,a woman of thirty five,was found dead in her apartment five days later due to an overdose of sleeping pills. Her close co-workers mentioned that she used to consume them daily to help her sleep so it’s not clear if it was an accident or suicide.Her body was found five days later after she didn’t give in any notice at work for her absence.She was lying on her side,her body had started rotting. There was a strong pungent odor in the room mixed with a mild smell of smoked cigarettes ,the buds scattered on the floor all over the room,the ashtray empty.”
And then there was the picture along with the column,the same face she had seen in the mirror this morning when she woke up. The same look in the eyes,the same circles,the same small cut on the corner of her lips that was hard to notice.
Come to think of it,it had gotten chillier than usual in the past few days.
And she was thirty two.