Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Troll [Short Story]

The words are building up in my head again.
It's like a collection of relics, dusted off and on display.
My heart just isn't in the facade.
I think I might.
I think I might be at my breaking point.

He stared at his computer in a daze. Up until now he'd been able to control himself. To hide what he truly felt. The self hatred, the caustic remarks, they were nothing compared to the monster that dwelt deep within him.

Most of the time I've been pretending.
Even with myself.
I don't think I can anymore.
I'm like the most worthless Little Train That Could.
Spewing forth "I know I can't. I know I can't."
And truth now: I know I can't.

He grabs an open can beside him. Generic cherry cola. Condensation dotting all around the still cold can. He flicks through a few open tabs on his browser, browsing the walls he's built up. The persona; the man in front of the curtain.

Invited to an event.
Why would they invite me?
I've never been more than a corner-of-the-room-hogging letdown.
The last party I truly enjoyed was.
Thirteen. I was thirteen and it was just my parents, my little sister, and me.
Back when I still felt like there might be hope.
So naive.

He checks his calendar. It's empty as it always is, he just checks the date. There's no reason not to go. Every reason to go. His hand hovers over the accept button. Finger trigger-locked. But instead he clicks away.

Can't think clearly.
That can wait.
Or maybe they'll realize it was a mistake and rescind the offer.
Either way, I have to...
God, I can't concentrate at all anymore.
What the hell happened to the bright, young, up and coming, kid?
He grew up of course.
Half my life gone.
If I'm lucky.
Or if I'm unlucky.
Where was I?

Clicks a tab and he's back to the game he was playing. Little bubbles popping. Some quest. Some impossible level that's made for making money on the boosters. He loses again. 3 lives down. Clicks the "try again." Takes one shot, then he changes tabs. Job application. Another tab. A music video. He clicks play again. He's been listening to the same song all night. He could put it on repeat, but he chooses to constantly restart it instead.

Need a different job.
Need a different life.
Need to get the hell away.
When did my hands get so big?
I remember when I was a kid, I thought of how this day would come.
But I always thought.
You always think you'll be better than you are.
Life doesn't have to be perfect.
But it should still work.
God, it should still be better than the alternative.

He suddenly closes his laptop. He doesn't move. Just sits there with his eyes closed. Around him the darkness closes in. The small blinking light of the computer is his only candle. One he's now hid under a bushel. After a moment he pushes back the chair from his desk and walks over to his bed where he collapses. Dark red sheets, haven't been washed in weeks. Two feather pillows, and a bleach stained blanket.

When did I become nothing more than words on a screen?
Tomorrow something is done.
One way or the other.

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