“Phew, what a year,” reflected Catherine, noting how nice it was not to feel the customary disappointment she usually experienced on the last day of December.
Career dissatisfaction had marked earlier years – a feeling of being stuck in a rut and unable to escape. This time she had made the leap, abandoning a safe office job for the uncertainties of freelancing and a vow to become a published writer.
Sometimes, dream achievement takes a different form from what was originally intended. Publication, via rather a few 100-word stories on a website, had proved to be very satisfying indeed.
*Originally published on LinkedIn on 31 December 2013
“This is a test. It is only a test. Had this been a real emergency, you would have been directed to tune into your local Emergency Broadcast Channel for further information and instructions. The following signal will last for ten seconds; your usual programming will then resume.”
The blaring shrieking scream of the siren began for its ten-second life and then stopped. The soap opera resumed but was suddenly interrupted by the same annoying siren.
“This is an announcement of the Emergency Broadcast System. There’s been a disaster. All residents of Smallville, Kansas must immediately evacuate to the high school gym.”
What’s this I feel on the side of my neck? I could swear it’s … gills. Better go for a swim in the ocean to test them out. Wow! So many moving creatures, colorful vegetation, sights I’d never seen. And check out the sun’s light filtering dimly through the roof of the water’s surface. Who knew all I was missing from dry land? And the feeling of swimming without worrying about air? Exhilarating. Call me a believer. I may have found a new underwater home.
Sandra sat in the lab repeating the steps of the process. It seemed endless. It was distinctly frustrating and boring. The only thing that brought some redemption was the mysterious fluid that began seeping from her ears more than a week earlier. She finally asked George, the lab specialist from the Biology lab, to biopsy the fluid so that she could focus on what to use to cure the drain.
Meanwhile, her task still demanded her attention and (according to those in charge) work.
“Work,” she growled to herself. “More like sadism. Sorting emails, thousands of emails, into their proper folders so that they can easily be accessed by the owner of the mailboxes. There are programs that have filters that do this stuff!”
She resented the project. Yes, she was being compensated for her “work” – at the astounding rate of $8.15 per hour. Just slightly better than unemployment for 37 hours of work.
“I should be grateful for this tedium. At 63 and unemployed for 13 years, at least I have some form of employment. But is this what other people my age should expect if they have the audacity to live beyond their usefulness?”
“Hey, Sandra! The lab results are back. Hold onto your seat; this’ll knock your socks off.”
Sandra glared. The expression signaled that George needed to get to the news.
“The biopsy revealed,” George began to recite, “it’s liquefied cortical cells.”
Scenery as the bus glided through its route from Hollywood via Glendale through Eagle Rock to Pasadena served as ideas for simple Christmas celebrations.
The first idea had potential and started the gears.
Buy two dozen pan dulces (enough for one resident per apartment), some containers of vanilla frosting, and then making several pots of coffee. Put the breakfast near the swimming pool and then call out, “BREAK – FAST,” to the neighbors and watch the groggy faces and eyes trying to interpret the words and small festivities. The stumbling block: getting any of them to partake.
Nix that idea.
The bus passed several Christmas tree lots still trying to sell the Christmas Eve remainders. Now there’s an idea. Get a mini Christmas tree and put it on the porch where any neighbor who’s inclined can place a single ornament on it as a way of offering holiday joy.
They still think you’re dangerous and crazy, thanks to the manager. Nix that.
The sounds of singing came over TrasitTV. Ahhh! Arrange some caroling around the pool. Singing is always fun. When it’s a group, it doesn’t matter who’s singing off key just so everyone is singing. And if you don’t know all the words, so what! Somebody else does and they can fill in.
Caroling takes organizing. People just won’t understand one person standing at the pool singing at the top of their lungs. They’ll call the police to report that she’s totally lost it. She must be on drugs.
Maybe the safest thing to do is go to Denny’s for a steak dinner.