29 July 2016
The Junk Drawer
Jack sprawled on the couch in his tiny, messy apartment. He kept asking why he was here, and what the point of everything was. He did this to himself sometimes. He would think about his existence too much and how meaningless he really was in the grand scheme of things. He thought they called it something like existential despair. His despair was particularly bad today because of what happened earlier. Jack tried not to think about it, and he went back to thinking about how meaningless his existence was.
Jack took a swig of his half-full bottle of beer and set it onto the table next to the couch and looked out the window. The weather matched his mood perfectly. The skies were gray, rain pattered against the window, and every few seconds lightning flashed. It was quite the thunderstorm. Jack looked over at a stack of records in the corner of his apartment. He slowly got up, selected a record, and put it in the player. The songs of one of his favorite heavy metal bands began to play.
Jack walked back to the couch and sat down. He looked out the window and picked up his half-full bottle of beer off of the table and took a drink. And then another. It didn't take long for Jack to fall asleep.
A few hours earlier, Jack had been going to a church potluck. He didn't really want to go, but Megan was going to be there. Jack had been in love with Megan ever since he met her. He met her at church about two years ago, and she had stolen his heart.
He had been walking down the street towards the potluck thinking about what he would say to Megan, when he had nearly tripped over a broken bike horn that lay in the street. After he had recovered, he realized someone was staring at him. A little boy no older than eleven was looking at him from across the street. Jack smiled at him and continued walking.
As Jack continued to the potluck, he realized the little boy was following him. Jack turned to face him. The boy's eyes widened in surprise as he realized Jack had noticed him. Jack noticed the boy was holding something.
"Hey," Jack said as nicely as he could, giving the boy a small wave.
The boy just stared at Jack.
"What's in your hand?"
The boy looked down at his hand and then opened it to show Jack what he was holding. The boy was holding a small, black stapler.
"What's that for?" Jack asked.
"Stray cats," the boy answered.
The boy nodded, "I'm stapling up signs telling people that they can bring the stray cats to my house."
Jack hesitated, not knowing what to say. He wasn't very good with children.
"My dad won't let me have a cat," the boy explained. "So I thought if someone just gave me a stray one, my dad might let me keep it."
Jack nodded, "That's a good plan." He didn't know what else to say.
There was an awkward silence as Jack and the boy stared at each other. The boy fiddled with the bottom of his red t-shirt.
"Well," Jack said. "I should be going."
The boy nodded.
Jack looked at the boy a second longer and then made his way to the potluck. As he got nearer, he noticed that it looked like it might rain. The sky was overcast and it smelled slightly of rain.
When he finally arrived, he looked for Megan. He couldn't see her anywhere. She had told him that she would be there. Half an hour later, Jack decided to ask someone where she was. He approached a guy named Bill. Bill had always been nice to Jack, but Jack never really talked to him much outside of church. Bill was wearing a striped shirt that he had spilled some ketchup on. Bill hadn't noticed yet.
"Hey, Bill," Jack said.
"Oh, hey, Jack," Bill said, quickly wiping his mouth with a napkin. Jack looked at Bill's shirt not sure if he should tell him that he had spilled ketchup on it.
"I was wondering if you saw Megan."
Bill looked at Jack in surprise, which quickly faded to fear, which in turn faded into a small, sad smile. Jack's heart pounded and his stomach flipped. He knew something had happened.
"Oh, Jack," Bill said sadly, putting a hand on Jack's arm. Jack looked unapprovingly at Bill's hand. "She's gone," Bill said.
"Gone?" Jack's mouth went dry. He swallowed, trying to bring some moisture back.
Bill nodded. "She moved to Spain last week."
Jack felt dizzy. He had known Megan for two years. He had been in love with Megan for two years! How had he not known?!
"Thanks," Jack mumbled to Bill. He walked away from the potluck with his head spinning and his heart broken.
Jack woke up. His back was stiff from sleeping on the couch. He sat up. He could tell his hair was a mess and his clothes were askew. He looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost midnight. Time seemed to stand still. He didn't want to go the rest of his life without Megan. A single tear slipped down Jack's cheek. He squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed his hands over his face, and then he began to sob.