All There Is. Short Story.

I’m sick. Again.

Again with the tonsillitis. Fun! My throat looks pretty damn gross and I’m on some heavy-duty antibiotics. Apparently, one of the potential side effects is blistering and skin falling off in large patches. Awesome, huh? I don’t totally regret reading the info sheet at all.

So over all I’m feeling pretty damn crappy, I mean I have stuff to do and my head feels all fuzzy. It’s not fun, but I’m hoping the antibiotics I’m on now get rid of it, if they don’t I don’t really know what the next step is. Throat removal? Is that a thing? It seems like it’s probably a thing.

Despite this, I had some kind of weird pride when the doctor looked at my throat and told me it was pretty gross. Apparently, when my body gets sick, it goes all out. I have to say though, as someone who isn’t squeamish it is pretty damn nasty looking. I’d describe it for you, but you don’t really want to hear it.

On with the show!

—————————————————————————————-

All There Is.

He looked outside, the rain was still falling. The steady drumming of it against the window was slightly distracting, normally it would fade quickly into the background noise, but not today. Today it was loud and intrusive. He looked at the computer screen for a moment, trying to figure out just where he was in the work on screen, then back out the window as the wind drove the rain against the glass again. It had been a grey day this morning, but the news had predicted that the clouds would pass quickly, leaving in their place a sunny, bright day. The news lied. He rubbed his eyes and stretched, he felt a little better once that was done. He glanced at the clock, still another hour left to go, he knew that there would be no more work done today. He waited out the time left, alternating between the screen and the window, occasionally he would type a nonsensical sentence just to make it seem as though he was working. The noise of the rain was just too distracting. He watched the people outside, struggling with umbrellas, trying to avoid getting drenched in the downpour. He watched as a wave of water was splashed onto a woman, she stood still as the car continued driving and after a moment, she started to walk again. He shook his head slightly, hate to be her. He looked around the office, the others seemed enamoured with their work, hunched over, faces close to the screen. It was just all so tedious. One of the fluorescent lights started to flicker slightly. He stood from the desk and moved past everyone, into the break room. He flicked on the kettle and sat back against the cabinets. He didn’t really want tea, but it would give him an excuse to be away from his desk.

The kettle boiled all too quickly and with seemingly no time passing, he was back at his desk, a mug of gently steaming tea by his hand. He took a sip. Was this really all there was? He had never been one to be full of ideals or great ideas of travelling. Sure travelling interested him, but he was content with short stints away. He liked routine, he liked the assurance that each day would hold no surprises. But not today. Today he wished for something to happen. He knew it wouldn’t. He’d get off work, drive home, have dinner and go to bed, just like every other day. He might watch a movie or read a book, but that was as unexpected as his evening would get. Karen was probably starting dinner now. She was unemployed at the moment, he didn’t mind too much, they had no money concerns yet, but she was getting restless too. He took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. That’s probably what it was. She was getting antsy and it was rubbing off on him. He wondered if maybe they should go out to dinner or a movie or something. Anything that was outside of the house, outside of the norm. Usually date nights were scheduled, worked in between meetings and days where they had no energy to do anything other than sit and look at the TV. They were wasting their lives, while watching inane characters live out theirs. Maybe they should go away. They had some money put aside. It would put some pressure on them down the line if Karen didn’t find a job soon. Maybe they could go on one of those deals everyone was always talking about, just for the weekend. They could go somewhere nice, visit the spots, wander the town. He shook his head. What was the point? They’d just slip back into their same old mundane lives. Previously mundane was good, it was stable, now it seemed suffocating. He was trapped and so was Karen, they just didn’t realise it yet. Trapped in the web of being responsible adults. They couldn’t just take off and explore the world, there were bills to pay and jobs to go to. He could leave, take a year off work, but there would be no guarantee his job would still be there when he returned. They’d find some reason to get rid of him while he was gone. He took another sip of the tea. What he needed was a bit of excitement, just something small to break through the monotony that had become his life. It didn’t have to be much. They could go on a drive over the weekend, just start off and go some random direction, maybe he could research a few places, see if there were any deserted castles or ruins nearby. He wasn’t sure Karen would go for that. She had been adventurous before, but she seemed to have settled into this rut with him and without complaint. Maybe they needed it, reignite some passion in them both. They’d go on this little jaunt into the countryside and things would look better. They could make it a thing, every weekend find somewhere new to go. That could be fun right? And they didn’t need to be expensive, there were plenty of free places they could go. It would be good for them too, healthy, a walk here and there would do them good. He glanced at the clock, still another fifteen minutes to go. He felt better about being here now, at least he had some kind of plan, even if it was only vague. He opened up an internet browser, then started typing. He was about to hit enter, then paused. He glanced over his shoulder, no one was there, he looked back at the screen. They monitor this kind of stuff. He usually had enough work that he didn’t need to bother with the internet to pass the time. Would they really mind though? He closed the browser and took out his phone. He looked around for a few places online while he waited for the day to end.

Everyone was packing up and leaving, he followed suit, bringing his mug into the kitchen he dumped out the contents and put it in the dishwasher, it was looking full so he started it as well. He returned to his desk and began tidying everything away, when he was done he grabbed his bag and looked out the window. The rain had become slower, lighter. Well that was something at least. He patted his pockets for his keys. “Fuck.” he hadn’t brought the car today. Nor did he bring an umbrella. It was supposed to clear up. He scowled. Well at least it wasn’t raining as hard. He walked slowly towards the lifts, taking his time, trying to delay the inevitable.

He stood under the overhang, looking out at the rain, wondering if he should call a taxi. No. He walked to work to save some money. It wasn’t that bad, he’d be home before he knew it and then he could have a hot shower, warm himself up. It would be fine. He took a breath and lowered his head before stepping out into the drizzle. It didn’t seem that bad at first, but his clothes quickly became damp, then wet. His shirt was starting to cling to his chest. At least he had a jacket on, even if it was a suit jacket. As he walked he dug through his bag, grabbing out a pair of headphones. He untangled the wire, teasing the wire through the loops and knots, once it was done he put them in, then plugged them into his phone. He quickly found a play list and started it. That would help pass the time at least. His hair was wet, beads of water growing fatter before finally rolling down his face, tickling as they went. He pushed his hair back a few times, but it kept flopping forward onto his face, plastering itself to his forehead. After the fifth attempt he gave up. It wouldn’t be much further, then he’d be home and warm and dry. He was getting hungry as he walked, he hoped Karen did have something done, sometimes he arrived home and she was jonesing for take away. That would be fine normally but he was cold and hungry, he would need something to heat him up. He wanted something hearty, though if she did want take away he would make do, as long as it was delivered, he knew that once he was in, he wouldn’t leave the house for the night. He was walking at a fast pace, head down, when he tried to look straight ahead the rain blew into his eyes, causing him to blink.

He opened the door and went inside, “Hello?” Nothing. Karen must be out. He stripped out of his jacket and shirt, then took off his trousers, he bundled them up and carried them upstairs. Shivering, he grabbed a few towels and quickly turned on the shower. It was as warming as he had hoped and once dry, he dressed in a pair of pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt. He wondered where Karen had gone, she must be out shopping or something. He went into the kitchen and looked to see if there was a note, seeing none, he remembered his phone and went back upstairs for it. Yep, one new message from her, his phone was on silent still. “Hey, Angie’s having a meltdown at the moment, probably won’t be home till late, you know how she gets xxx.” he read the message and sighed, it was typical of Angie, what ever guy she was seeing now probably dumped her for being too clingy. Karen would have to comfort her. He had only been there for one of these sessions but it was more than enough. As far as he could tell, Angie liked the attention. It was the only explanation. She always asked for advice and did the exact opposite of what she was told. He turned up the volume on his phone and slipped it into his pocket. He was on his own for dinner tonight. He went downstairs into the kitchen and looked in the fridge, trying to see if there was anything he could just shove in the oven or microwave. He saw nothing appetising. He pulled a few things out before putting them back. He wondered if maybe he should get takeaway after all, as he thought he looked out the window, it had stopped raining, typical. Probably wouldn’t rain for the rest of the night either. He dug through the freezer and found a frozen pizza, looking at it critically he decided that it would do. After turning on the oven he stripped the pizza of its packaging and shoved it in, he fiddled with the dials for a few moments and after setting the timer, he went into the sitting room and pulled out his laptop. It would be a nice surprise for Karen if he found somewhere for them to go. She’d appreciate it.

He spent the rest of the night looking at places, finding a few that seemed interesting, when Karen came home he didn’t mention it to her, he wanted it to be a surprise. As he lay in the darkness beside her that night, he knew he’d never say it to her, all these plans would never be revealed, he’d just keep going until one day he‘d just stop. She’d shoot down any idea he had for going away, she’d say it was to save money, but that was always the excuse. They never really lived. One day he would wake up and realise he couldn’t do it anymore, he couldn’t go into work, he couldn’t deal with the same thing every single day. He rolled onto his side and closed his eyes, shoving the thoughts away. It would be fine. It would be different this time. It would.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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2 Responses to All There Is. Short Story.

  1. I must admit that this was all a bit literary for my tastes; nonetheless, I really liked it. It managed to be dark and depressing without coming across as overwrought. I wonder how many people spend their entire lives thinking and living like this?

    The only thing I’d suggest is that you try to break your paragraphs up a bit. Some of them – the 2nd one in particular – are exceedingly long at the moment and look quite daunting to read.

    • I’m glad you liked it, I took a bit of a departure from what I usually write with this.
      I think a lot of people live their lives like this, wanting to change, but never actually following through.

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