Man, 30, a clerk. Single, smells like a shirt picked up one day ago at dry cleaners. Wears "straight" ties only; no pink, no dots. No red-nosed Rudolphs. Drinks instant coffee with no sugar, reads newspaper in the morning (right after he finishes his breakfest – with just the right amount of unnecessary calories). Doesn’t believe in God but believes that the sun will rise every day, again and again. Never really cared to wonder why. Usually goes to bed at about 10pm, usually wakes up at 6am. Usually in his NREM phase of sleep. Usually he doesn’t mind. (But his subconsciousness probably thinks that dreams are for kids only.) All his furniture screams IKEA. He likes their design, he finds it fresh, modern. Simple. According to his opinion, everything in life should be simple including life itself. Chairs, chairs especially.
Currently, he’s sitting on one of these IKEA chairs at an IKEA table. Except an IKEA vase with an IKEA flower in it, there’s nothing but a book on the table.
The man is staring at it. It is hard to tell what sort of book it is at first glance, there’s no title on the cover. No author either. It is missing any ilustrations, any clues leading to the content of this collection of murdered trees, whitened and cut into slim rectangular shapes. But than the man suffocates the mystery aura and after a glimpse of hesitation, he opens the book. Oh, suddenly we see. It is his diary.
The pages are completely empty.
He writes in it every day.
The man’s expression mirrors the one of a colon, a hyphen and a capital "I" typed on a keyboard. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t move any unnecessary muscles either. Though, sitting there, in the exact same manner as a picosecond ago, he looks somehow different. It might be that the sun rays changed their angle, it might be that the air in the room got drier. It might be the book’s fault. The man doesn’t give us answers.
The silence evolves from gentle whispers to unpleasant continuous whistling.
Suddenly, He cuts through it. Our subject quickly stands up and makes noise by shifting off the chair. As an eccentric contrast to his previous state, his moves are chaotic, impatient, all over the place; the subtle wrinkles on his forehead seem to have formed word RESTLESS. There is something desperate in the way he reaches out for his camel-coloured coat and the man himself looks as though he realizes this fact as well. However, he skips over this glimmer of self-awareness and grabs his keys, then rushes out of the front door.
And then he slows down rapidly as though every following step is meant to be as delicate as possible. Or he’s just clueless about where to go. Or both. To passers-by, he must look kind of suspicious; his eyes tickle every object, one by one, in the field of vision by their sight, as if the clerk watched out for any witnesses of the crime he’s just commited. Even his posture, hands deep down in pockets and his back slightly hunched, says: "You don’t trust me, I don’t trust you, neither." Overall, he looks uncomfortable. Yet he continues his walk. Until he is interrupted.
First comes the hand and a very familliar squeeze of our focus’ shoulder, the body connected to the upper limb appears from the uninterested hurrying crowd slightly after.
"Yo, bro. Got fire?"
Bro? flashes through the clerk’s mind in an instant. But the other person is most likely not telepathically connected to this thought with "a tiny bit" offended undertone or is simply ignorant of it. In either case, the reproachful question mark isn’t met by anything but a licking of dry lips.
"Excuse me, I don’t..."
"Ya ain’t smokin’, bro?"
There goes the bro again.
"Aww..." lets he out as if that was the most touching thing he ever heard. The bro guy puts a hand in his pocket, takes out a cigarette and the so-called fire he was asking for just a moment ago. Our "hero" turns into a personification of confusion. The unknown from the crowd lights the cigarette and forces it into clerk’s mouth.
He would defend himself, the entrance to his digestive tract and would respond to such a rape of personal space with an impressive amount of vulgarisms for sure but before orders from brain reach muscles, the other person disappears.
The muscles are offended. After all these years they’ve deserved much more than a hoax.
The man, all exasperated and reddish, breaths in and...
Chokes. The cigarette smoke spreads in his lungs as a virus and stimulates every square millimetre of lungs‘ surface, forcing him to cough heavily. He leans forward and closes his eyes for they have started to tear. And then – bang!
His whole world shakes, the left and right sides switch their places. He falls on the muddy ground, one wouldn’t guess the coat was ever supposed to remind someone of a camel. The camel turned into bizon. An injured bison.
"Ouch! Dammit!" escapes his mouth before he even realizes what happened. He manages to stand up and sees... a lot of orange colour spread on the ground. In the middle of it lies a little girl, probably five or six years old. The tiny flowers on her light dress are covered with the same amount of mud and dirt as seen on the man’s coat, the ribbon in her dark hair looks somewhat withered too. The little brunette’s eyes are wide open, her raspberry coloured lips start shaking and let out a first sob.
Oh no, not that, he thinks. He dislikes kids, the small drooling creatures who are way too loud, way too egocentric and disgustingly foxy for their age. But most of all, he hates them crying.
As composed as possible, he makes the first step towards her. Her eyes get even wider though it is hard to believe she had any reserves. There goes the second sob, the third one comes slightly after. The older participant of the accident kneels down and reaches out his hand. It kindly touches the little shoulder, then amicably pats it.
"There, there." he says. Aware of his lack of talent for consoling, he chooses the first words to come to his mind and believes them to be the best. And, strangely enough, it works, the lovely miniature of a person calms down.
"Come on, get up, we will pick up these..." he focuses on the ground for the first time, "...oranges for you, okay?" and helps her to get on her legs.
"Are you selling these?" he asks while quickly picking the oranges up and putting them into a wicker basket.
"Mmm," she shakes her head, "not anymore."
"You’re buying all of them."
"What do you mean I’m buying all of them, I never said that, did I?"
"You hurt the oranges, Mister. You have to adopt them and apologize now."
"Do what? What kind of logic is that? Besides, these oranges are one hundred percent okay, where do you think..."
Oh my, I’m actually arguing with a child here.
As an acceptation of self defeat, he shuts up, takes out his wallet and pays for the oranges.
"Thank you, Mister! Goodbye, Mister!" smiles the little angel, hands out the full basket with over fourty orange balls and runs away, the opposite direction.
Just what...? he starts but is too tired to finish the thought. His lungs remind him of their existence once again and he coughs two more times.
Hanging lip, he scans the basket’s content. What should he do with so many? He doesn’t even eat oranges, of all fruits. He lets out a long sigh and then decides to go back home. Passing the streets, his thoughts are foggy, almost blank. Although his eyebrows are joined by a newly appeared wrinkle. With such an expression, he finally arrives at the place he lives in. Looking at his front door, he stops though, as if after a pause an idea came to his mind. He doesn’t turn where he’s supposed to but passes his house to stop at the next one, his neighbour’s. He puts the basket on the mat and then, a bit hesitantly, he rings the bell.
And quickly runs away back to his house, where he hides. Only after the doors are closed and behind his back, he allows him to breath out.
He sits on the chair he sat on before. And then he realizes a strange thing – he brought one orange with him. He looks at it, suspiciously, then looks on the table where The Book lies, still. Book, orange, orange, book, he goes.
And then he laughs. He laughs out loud and clear, all the way from his stomach.
He peels the orange and boldly bites it. Then he picks up the pen and starts writing.