"Did you have any feedback for the training?" I ask one of my employees.
His face lights up. "Really?" he says, grinning.
"I'm sorry, have I ever given you the impression that your opinion was unimportant to me?" I reply.
Strange dreams of chewing up diamonds and swallowing silver chains leave me exhausted through the day. I know I have to finish up my taxes after work, though, so I walk in the rain over to whole foods, grab a tea, and suck it down on the walk back to the store.
By the time I leave for the day a couple hours later, I can feel the caffeine propping me up, and I congratulate my self. The sensation is a little creepy, though - the exhaustion is still there, at my core, but it's as if I put on a caffeine suit that I can wear over the weariness like a disguise.
After I've picked out the bolts, nuts, and washers at the hardware store, I hunt for a pen to write the item number on the little paper bag so the cashier doesn't have to look it up to know what to charge me.
Katie appears at the head of the aisle, an ironic look of surprise on her face. "A man is being left alone in a hardware store?" she exclaims.
"I've never had to look for a pen, or write down a number myself in this aisle in my entire life before some dude swooped down on me," she adds ruefully.
"Can I ask you a question?" she says without making eye contact, which already has me mildly annoyed, because that's what she always says right before she says something stupid.
And of course she wants to leave early, but when I ask why, the only reason she can come up with is, "Because I have a lot of stuff to do...."
The minute we walk into the butterfly exhibit, a large brown specimen with giant owl-like eyes on its wings flutters around my head before landing on my shoulder and closing its wings, where it stays for the rest of our time in the enclosure.
"You have a calm butterfly soul," Katie says approvingly, and I find myself strutting around, my butterfly friend and me, feeling quite proud of myself.
As we're about to leave, and the attendants are checking us for any stowaways before we exit, Katie points. Off to our left stands a presumably blind, or almost-blind woman holding a white cane, grinning hugely, absolutely covered in butterflies from head to toe.
I plod to the elevator at the end of my shift, legs full of lead, push the button to go down, and wait.
In that idle, empty-headed way that you do when you've been working all day, I try to remember the last time I ran, and I can't. So I try, in a sort of painful, shambling kind of way.
I make myself run back and forth in front of the elevator a few times until it arrives, just to prove to myself that, despite my shot knees and busted hips, I still can.
It’s not even that late, but weariness tightens my shoulder blades and weighs down my eyelids, and I can barely keep from yawning.
But because I made a promise to myself, a promise to be kinder to myself, more appreciative of the tiny little life I have left to me, I write.
I write a little song in prose about the knowledge that we are all going to die, and I push myself a little bit more. I remember the way the sky looked overhead, wintry with low clouds, and the cold air blowing through my thin t-shirt, and I admit that that’s good enough.