Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Fiction: On The Edge


You're always in control of fiction...or are you?

He sat at the edge of the cliff and his legs dangled from the ledge. It had been so long his feet had worn anything but symbols of corporate citizenship and been in anything but stale conditioned air. Today the open wind tickled his sole and there was a sense of freedom in the air. He looked at the valley below and saw a steadily flowing stream in the deep distance. He looked up and saw the space between him and the sunset in the horizon covered by the forest. He had forgotten what colour sunsets were in his part of the world. And so he gazed intently and took in the many hues in the sky. He took in a deep breath and it felt like it was the first time. 

How many times had he ever caught his breath in the mad rush of routine in the last few years? Those automatic mornings that started with the shrill alarm and a race…to get out of the house on time, to get out of traffic on time, to get out of the elevator on time. He was always chasing something…a deadline, numbers or people. Today it felt like he had been running after something elusive all this while. Was it money? He had enough of it and more. Was it success? In his place in the hierarchy of things he could hardly say that. Was it happiness? If he had the money and the success, happiness should have followed by itself. Wasn’t that what he had told himself the day he started work? A greenhorn out to conquer the world. He must be happy. He should be happy.

But then why did his world suddenly feel empty? Why did it feel like he didn’t know the people he shared a roof with? Or that they didn’t know him? Why did a beautiful sunset and open air suddenly seem to bring him more joy than all those perks and promotions? And why was he alone in this moment of serenity? Where were the people who cared for him? The people he cared for?

It was then that he remembered he had never cared for anybody but himself. He saw the pieces fall in place…and his life fall apart, a self-sabotage. It was now too late to go back and change anything. And where would he even begin?

The sun was now lower than before, almost taking on a crimson hue. The birds were returning home, a term he had forgotten the meaning of. The wind was picking up. He wished it would take him away with it, that he could fly home too. 

Just then he heard what sounded like the shrill call of a bird and he looked downward in the direction where it came from. In the deep distance, the building watchman was frantically blowing the whistle and flailing his hands in the air. There was a fire truck standing and firemen were running towards the building. A crowd had gathered and the steady stream of traffic had now come to a halt. While he had been reflecting on the very meaning of his existence and his family sat completely unaware in one of those matchboxes, the preservation of his life seemed to have become important to a bunch of complete strangers…the irony. He stood up on the ledge and had a headrush…of thoughts and emotions. He was still stuck…the call, concern and consolation of nameless strangers still carrying its daily and dangerous appeal…would they applaud his decisions now, the way they did in the board room? He spread his hands but even with the emptiness inside he found it impossible to be lifted by the wind to freedom. And he finally started to laugh…at the joke his life had become.

0 Thinkers Pondered: