Earlier this year the days had been rolling along rather smoothly. Predictably. The office owned his 9 to 5, the commute was time for Candy Crush on the smartphone, and the weekends were for chores—or some advanced variation of doing nothing. The fact that Lionel didn’t have an imagination was noticed by few. His work didn’t demand it, his friends were similarly handicapped, and his calendar never made any demands that he fill in the little boxes with plans. So he didn’t. He had bought himself a large flat screen TV, and would sit in front of it for hours. But he never turned it on. Everything was in its place, each hour designated, no pulls from the past or future.
And then, unpredictably, the job fell through. They didn’t fire him, they were sorry but they had to let him go. Quite gentle. Not like dying, more like passing on. There was a whole thesaurus that came along for the final interview—the economy, budgets, cutbacks, layoffs—all wrapped in professional decorum and tied with a ribbon of we wish you the best.
No acknowledgement of the fact that they were pulling the rug up from under his feet, his life, was forthcoming. But he certainly got a sense of the instability of the earth beneath his feet when they gave him an empty box and some Time—to collect his personal belongings from the office. They had unplugged his computer so he couldn’t access his email anymore and would walk him to the door when he was done. Nothing personal they explained—where one door closes another opens.
A six month severance package, eligibility for at least that many more months unemployement, and a comfortable savings account. Any anxiety or panic was off the table. Stability. And lots of time.
As someone said—too much of nothing can make a man ill at ease—and here he was, suddenly overburdened with stacks of unappropriated Time.
The clock on the living-room wall was steadily spilling ticks and tocks all over the floor.
Bundles of Time began accumulating all around his apartment. By the time the leaves on the trees outside his window had begun changing he surmised that he had horded a few weeks worth.
At first he emptied some shelves in his closet and kept neat stacks of minutes and hours there. He did offer some unallocated weekends to friends but they were much like him and didn’t know what to do with more than they had.
As the first chill of coming winter arrived he rented a storage unit.
Occasionally he would load up a cart, stack it with boxes filled with the stuff, and haul it out of his apartment.
Yesterday the guy who runs the storage unit asked him why he’d rented that space and wasn’t using it.
What’s with all the empty boxes you bring over?
Lionel explained about his excess Time.
Okay, buddy, sure. Some imagination.
© AleXander Hirka 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Read RemingtonWrite’s version here:
In August 2020, I set myself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image was that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to my Mom and the concept was Time.
In September 2020, the Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.