Like a writer uninspired Alex knelt there. He didn’t know what to say, how to react, where to go. He was a man without words. He had had his expressions and his phrases stolen. The confidence in his voice drained. Like a writer uninspired Alex just sat there. He didn’t know what to say.
That day had been very much like any other. Completely, entirely and massively normal. Alex woke up. Alex dawdled. Alex left the house.
At work things continued at a steady pace. The office was quiet; silent like the break of day, but the only tweeting came from phones, not birds. “This morning can soooooo go to hell lol” wrote Jacob, ever the inspired linguist and optimistic Monday-morninger. “Can’t believe I drank so much, now feels like the calm *after* the storm, eek” said Stacy, sympathising with herself, like her weekend in a dark, dank pub that smelt of beer and actual, real life regret was a storm. No wonder she craved the clouds breaking.
Alex’s favourite part of the morning was when he heard the plans of the weekend upcoming. Time travel wasn’t really a thing just yet, but calendars’ flutter back and forth as though the willingness to avoid a weekday would eventually give way to the invention of a full-on physical time machine through the power of desperation. Or at least here was to hoping.
Alex enjoyed work like anyone else enjoyed work. Today, being Monday, it was laced with average conversations and dull tasks with lunch and water-cooler conversations thrown in for good measure. “How was the weekend?” and “yeah, I didn’t do much really, but that’s good sometimes, isn’t it?” were sewn between the hours as though nothing else could hold a working day together. On a Monday morning small talk is about the biggest thing in office life.
The rest of the day was as comfortably uninspiring as it had begun. A certain safety in the boring and the benign, as though if someone surprised you with something interesting, something important and something worthwhile you would lose your words. The storm after the calm, surprised by excitement. Surprised by the need to react with a change of pace. The uninspiring can be comfortable. Safe. Unimportant.
Alex got off the 311 slightly later than usual. Between his need to stop for change and the buses running late Alex had received four missed calls and a text, which turned out to be an answer machine notification. Between the four missed calls and the answering machine notification (all from his landlord, Niall. Or, as Alex’s phone read ‘Niall ARSEHOLE landlord’) Alex knew something was wrong. One missed call can be a mistake, two an urgency but above three is usually an emergency. And from the landlord this could mean anything. “Fuck” Alex exclaimed, uninterested in his proximity to a number of children and their now angry parents.
Alex, instead of call back, decided to turn his walk to a run via a short jog. Alex hadn’t ran since 12 years previously, when high school seemed riddled with reasons to run, but this time round it hurt his feet and stomach. Not as much as it hurt his mind to wonder the reasons for four missed calls (and a notification) from an arsehole.
Channelling his inner athlete, Alex saw the home stretch and increased the speed of his now slow jog. As the jog brought him closer to home and his house came into view there was a sinking sensation. He has gone from violent red to pitch black in seconds. He had feared eviction on the grounds of harbouring an extra housemate on the sofa or a rent increase because Niall had found the massive raspberry stain on the carpet in his room but from what he could begin to see, nothing could prepare him readily. No phone call, nothing.
Alex was slowed fiercely, quickly, abruptly by a police officer who was having little trouble requesting Alex to slow down, but less success actually stopping him moving. A stationary car used as a barrier to slow oncoming traffic, but instead of one car, Alex was moving with the force of an entire fleet.
By now Alex could see the four missed calls, the text and the voice message right in front of him. He could see the violent red and the consuming, horrific black. He could feel the pain from the run but it was searing, hot and sharp. He could see, feel, and hear it all. The loud roar and hot burn. Searing. Hot. Sharp.
Upon taking up a long bus journey, a short run followed by a shorter jog Alex had made it home quickly and safely. He had arrived at his house. He could see his house. Yet Alex had arrived home to his house – his “it will do for now” house, his “it’s alright for the moment” accommodation – to find it engulfed, surrounded and transformed into a ball of fire. Into the violent red and the pitch black. Into more than small talk and more than water-cooler conversation. The house in flames and the garden almost invisible. Yet in between the smoke and the fire, he could see a green blur. An unmistakably evident shape. In between the smoke and the fire, he could see his housemate’s car. His housemate, his oldest friend, his best friend’s car. In between the thoughts of “what?” and “who?” he fell to his knees. This wasn’t safe, this wasn’t comfortable and this wasn’t unimportant.
Like a writer uninspired Alex knelt there. He didn’t know what to say, how to react, where to go. He was a man without words.