What I Tell Myself

By Alexandra Kernerman Vogelhut                                                         Word Count: 942

I’m fine.

Waking up at 7:15am gives me enough time to do a quick yoga practice before work. It’s not much exercise but I feel refreshed in the morning. I drive through minimal traffic and it doesn’t take too long to get to the office. There’s always fresh coffee and cookies. I say hello to Sarah and Mike, then to Naseeb and Gerald. They’re good people. We’ve been working together for a few years now. A new guy started a couple weeks ago, Clay, he’s alright.

I’m fine.

Work passes uneventfully as usual. There’s a couple meetings. Sometimes we make progress but often it’s an excuse to talk. It’s amazing how little talking can accomplish. My desk sits near a window and I can see the park outside. Sometimes I hear children. They laugh and skip and run around in circles. They don’t seem to mind they’re not getting anywhere.

I’m fine.

It’s 4:57pm and we’re all packing up to leave. The game is on tonight and a few of us are planning to head to a bar. There’s one around the corner from the office that isn’t too busy. We have a regular table there to pass the time. A couple people plan to go home first to change and then meet us later. I don’t live far. I could go home to change but I probably wouldn’t leave again.

I’m fine.

At the bar we have a table for 8. The empty seats are filled with bags and coats. A server brings over our first round of drinks. The beer is crisp and tingles my throat. There’s only a couple of us here so far. Clay, Sarah, and Naseeb all said that they would come meet us soon. I check my watch. It’s a little after 6pm. The game will be starting soon. I’ve never been a huge basketball fan.

I’m fine.

Sarah and Naseeb arrive. Clay is still nowhere to be seen. That’s okay, I guess. Not everyone shows up all the time. Soon I forget that he’s missing. The beer is almost finished. The server brings over another; I must have ordered it. My brain silently calculates how much I’m spending. I still have enough to order food. The game is starting. One team is green, the other is blue. I think I’m supposed to be green.

I’m fine.

A statement brings me back into the conversation. “I’m going on vacation soon, I just bought a ticket to Cuba!” I didn’t say it but I wish I did. I’ve been saving up for a vacation. I could really use one but I’m not sure if I’ve made enough yet. I really need a new stove. Some things take priority.

I’m fine.

I think green won the game. The others seem happy, so I’m happy. The bar begins to clear out and so do we. It’s 9:38pm. I have just under 10 hours until work tomorrow. As I drive home I push the thoughts from my head. There isn’t much to think about. A guy cuts me off and I honk. The noise resonates between my ears for a few seconds. I realise I’ve been taking a long way home. There isn’t much waiting for me there so it doesn’t matter.

I’m fine.

Shoot. A cop is pulling me over. I guess I was speeding? I get my license and registration out for him. “You know you we’re going pretty fast there. There’s kids in this area, someone could have been hurt.” I don’t see any kids around but I don’t argue. He walks back to his car with my license. I have the urge to put the car back in drive but I don’t move.

I’m fine.

He hands me a yellow ticket. The paper is silky and clearly coated with plastic. “Try not to speed anymore.” I put my license back in my wallet and drive away. $85. My vision starts to cloud and I touch my eyes. They’re wet. I don’t touch them again. The liquid drips down onto my shirt. I really need to do laundry. This is a good reminder. The clock says it’s 10:32pm. I don’t have time for it tonight.

I’m fine.

The last time I see before I close my eyes is 11:14pm. I’ll get my 8 hours of sleep tonight. That’s good. I’ll wake up tomorrow on time. It’s important to get enough sleep. Helps your brain rest and regenerate. I wonder what Clay did tonight. He’s a little younger than I am. Maybe he has some other friends.

I’m fine.

The alarm goes off at 7:15am and I get up. There is wetness on my pillow. I do my yoga and take a shower. My phone rings and I reach into my bag to pick it up. My hand grazes a silky piece of paper. It’s the ticket. $85. I could do a lot of things with $85. I should pay the ticket, though. It would be bad not to pay it. I’ll stress about it if I don’t. There’s an easy way to pay online now.

I’m fine.

Arriving at work is quick. I didn’t realise the route I took. The clock says it’s 8:48am. I’m on time. I say hello to Sarah and Mike, and Naseeb and Gerald. As I walk over to my desk I see Clay. I say hello. He looks up and me and asks “Hey, what’s wrong? Is something the matter?” I’m not sure why he’s concerned but he’s staring at my face and my shirt. I guess it’s wet again.

“I’m fine.”

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