It was a long day for him. All he wanted to do was sit on his bed, throw himself back first on his bed, after having removed his sweaty clothes. But he couldn’t, not just yet. He was still metaphorically far away from his house. Even though he was right outside his house, he couldn’t seem to get in. He tried his keys again and again, but the lock wouldn’t click and open. He took it out, then put it back again, each time with increasing desolation, the one a traveller feels trying to find his way out of a desert.
He tried it a couple times more, and then sat down, next to the door, against the wall. He put his knees up to his chest and put his palms on his face. His key was still in the lock, slightly bent.
He mumbled a few words, cursing his situation. All he wanted to do was to get back home and lay down, and he can’t even do that. His face turned a mix of helpless and indifferent, not knowing what to do, and being too tired to care about it.
He couldn’t get a locksmith to repair the locks at this hour. And he couldn’t break his own lock. How would he be safe at night and how would he leave it when he had gone off to work? Nor could he go to his parent’s house this late. As it is, the house is too far. This is the perfect culmination of all the things which took place today. Everything going wrong with no ray of light at the end of the tunnel.
He had put his face back into his hands and nodded. It all started the previous night, when he got caught up reading an interesting book. He went way past his routine bedtime. He was acutely aware of what was going to happen he next morning, but he still couldn’t keep the book down. He eventually did, two hours later, after having read hundred extra pages and leaving the remaining eighty for the next metro next morning.
Consequentially, he woke up at the right time feeling tired. His eyes were paining, his head ached a bit and a sort of warmness, irritation spread through his body. He thought of calling an off, but he wanted to save his holidays. He got up, heavy with sleep, nowhere a man refreshed after sleep (like so many of us) and went through with his routine. He yawned and walked tiredly to the metro station, his thought of completing the book far beneath his brain’s constant buzz of tiredness. The metro, was uncharacteristically full. The crowd in the metro irritated him even further. Usually, he could take out his book to pass the time, but he couldn’t today. He was extra-ordinarily clumsy and uncoordinated as well, ever since his irritation spiked in the metro. He bumped into two people while getting off, tipped on the stairs out the metro station, bumped into his office’s glass door and put his bag down at his table so forcefully, it made a loud noise throughout the office, startling all those who were there.
Next thing he knew, the entire day had started to fly by because of the monotony and mundanity of office. He had to trudge through it all, bumping into people by accident, one of whom was his senior who gave him an earful, all the while trying to keep awake. Come lunch, he realised he had not brought his own. The next flashing thought was his table, where he left it packed as he walked out his house in a sleepy and tied haze. He went out for lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was a self-service restaurant. He ordered the food and eventually forgot to collect it, sitting at his table with his head in his right fist on his cheek. He had a miniscule falling sensation and fell awake. He realised he had to collect his food. For a fleeting moment, his fear of getting to office late galvanised his brain into action as he brought back his food to the table.
In the time he walked back, his brain again fell into sleep. He ate slowly, dropping some food on his shirt unknowingly. He completed lunch but left some of the food. In a feat of special extra-ordinary clumsiness and incoordination, he put his hand down on the tray rather than the table. All the remaining food splashed onto his shirt. He took a moment for it to register, then ran to the washroom, wetting the stain trying to clean it. At the end, the shirt was a multi coloured mess. He looked at his tie, still somehow left spotless. He came back out of the washroom and looked at his table. It was empty and clean. The tray of food had been taken away and the dropped food had been cleared. Startled, he ran towards the table. He checked the floor around the table but couldn’t see it. His company ID card had been taken away to.
He ran to the management for information, but they knew nothing about it. Tired and baffled by himself now he walked back to the office, well after lunch time. The guard made no fuss about his entry. Perks of working at the office for years, he thought. He sat back in his disk and tried to minimize his movements as much as he could. Everyone commented or quipped about his shirt. Usually, he would go along, but today it tired him further. He made it through the remaining day rather uneventfully, which he felt relived about.
Just when he was about to leave office, his senior told him to stay back for a discussion. He wanted to say no, but the discussion was important. So he thought better of it. The discussion went on for about an hour and fifteen minutes past his routine leaving time. He was uncharacteristically quiet the entire discussion, rather than giving his opinions like every other discussion. He couldn’t register a single point the entire discussion. His head was low, and he kept falling asleep, woken up only by the falling sensation.
The discussion too ended without much event. Luckily, since he didn’t talk much, not a lot of attention was paid to him. He packed his things and decided he would call a cab instead of the metro. He sat in it and set home. He wanted to just reach home and put his tired self on his bed. But not even half way through, the cab got stuck in traffic due to the construction of a bridge and a religious festival parade taking up a lot of the road and moving slowly. He was exasperated by all the things which happened and asked the cab driver of there was a better way. The cab driver said no.
His eyes were closing and he could only just keep himself awake all throughout the arduous journey. He eventually reached a very exasperated himself home, eager to get into bed. He tried his key and the lock wouldn’t click. He tried his key again and again, but the lock wouldn’t click and open. All his exasperation turned into desolation as he continued with the lock and nothing happened. He eventually sat down on the wall next to the door, his head on his hands.
He had started sweating now, helpless and tired at his door not opening, this late in the night. He tried to relax himself, but the hall had no fan and his sweat troubled him. Every time he tried to relax, a bead of sweat went over his eyes or nose and disturbed him. He looked at his palms, which were full of sweat. His legs felt uncomfortable in his wet pants now. Had it not been so hot, he wouldn’t have minded sleeping out here. His shirt had become even more of a mess, the shirt started sticking to his chest, adding to his discomfort. He put his head on the wall behind. He couldn’t think of what to do, and sat uncomfortably in his own sweat.
Some more time passed as he simply stared at the ceiling, acutely aware the tragedy the day had been and how much he would want to be comfortable. The salty sweat to stop, the shirt to stop sticking, and legs to not feel so wet. In the course of this, he beam ever thirsty. He opened his bad and saw his bottle completely empty. He had forgotten to refill it before leaving office. At rock bottom, he decided to get up and at least get some water.
He raised his hand and pulled the door handle for support to get himself up. His sweaty palm slipped from the door handle and hit the key. The key turned in the lock and the lock clicked open. His door nudged in a bit, opening. He stood up all of a sudden, marvelling at what just happened. All his thoughts of feeling helpless dispersed in a moment. He picked up his bag and ran inside the house, closing the door behind him.
He was ecstatic. Finally, something had gone right in the terrible day. He switched on the lights and kept his bag beside the door, which he proceeded to lock. He saw his tiffin box kept on a corner of the dining table. Encircling it, his company ID card. Looking at it, he felt foolish. But it didn’t matter to him. He went to the kitchen to get a drink of water and then he sprinted to his bed. He took off his tie, shirt, vest and pants and threw himself on the bed. Feeling the fluff of his mattress and the bedsheet on his skin, he felt happy. This is perfect, he thought as he made himself comfortable. This is all I wanted today. Without another care in the world, he drifted off to sleep happily.
All was perfect for him. After a terrible day, this was all he had wanted. Wanted so badly, that he jumped at it so eagerly, he forgot to pull his key out of the front door lock and it never ever once crossed his mind as he went to sleep.
I envisioned this as a short post, and it turned out to be 1700+ words! I guess you know something has changed in you when your short stories are this big, given they used to be 300 back in 2013! A lot has changed, and I guess it has been for the best.