Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

He took his time twisting on his blue tie, staring at himself in the mirror. It was Wednesday—that’s why he was wearing blue. Always blue on Wednesdays. He sighed, hearing that last sentence in his head. Pathetic. Another Wednesday.

Another shrill beep from the microwave when his oatmeal was ready. Another morning burning his fingertips on the ceramic bowl—again—and having to rummage around in his drawers for the oven mitt. Another bitingly cold walk to the bus stop, where there was always a different knot of people that blew smoke in his face. Another bus ride where the driver glared at him and closed the door a little too quickly once he got on. Another scan of the seats, and as usual, Red-Haired Bitch’s purse taking up the only spare one.

Another day slumping into his chair at work, clicking alive his computer from its Redwood National Park screensaver. Pulling up the Excel sheet with the calls he had to make that day, heaving a deep sigh and picking up the phone. Another ham sandwich at noon, another bus ride home, another dry TV dinner.

Did he have the energy for another one of these? Did he have the gall to swallow and move forward with one more day—to plaster on that innocuous smile and run through his usual script of “Excuse me,” “Mmhmm,” “Of course,” “Thank you,” “Yes sir,” with everyone around him? He wasn’t sure.

And as he glanced at his hair more closely—still wet from the shower—he realized his hairline seemed to have receded even further overnight. Is this how it’d keep going? Until he died, bald and smiling, at his desk?

The thought suddenly overtook him with fury. Fuck you, he snarled at the mirror—though he wasn’t sure who he was talking to. Himself? The rest of the world? God?

He watched his reflection as hatred boiled up his throat, his chest heaving up and down. He wanted to punch something, but he wouldn’t—even he knew that. He wouldn’t risk splitting his hand open. Instead, he ripped the tie off his neck and hurled it into the closet. Clenching his fists, he kicked the wall, trying to think of what to do next.

Before he could decide, though, his oatmeal beeped. He snatched the red tie down from the rack, threw it around his neck, and went to go get his breakfast.

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