A short dark psychological story concerning freedom. Content Advisory.
|"My name is Johnathan Matthews and everyday is the same, except today."
A thin pasty man leans over his bathroom sink. His shirt untucked but well pressed was white and unbuttoned, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. A chartreuse tie slightly loose, dangles from his neck like a hangman's noose. Gravity pulls the sweat from his brow down to his pale empty cheeks. The ominous ticking of the wall clock reverberates through the small white tiled room. Every tick, every tock a stroke of the axe at the executioner's block. Dainty little fingers rest upon the porcelain, his breathes long and deep. Brown piercing eyes fixed upon the mirror. The usual after work routine, self reflection followed by a cold shower. But something was different, something was askew. You could hear it in his breathe, you could even taste it in the air. Not even a blink he glares himself down like a gunslinger in his final moments before the draw.
"There's always an explanation" he muttered to himself, followed by a prolonged breathe.
Earlier that morning...
The buzzing of an alarm clock abruptly wakes him from his slumber. Like clock work he disables his alarm and makes his bed, sparing no detail. He slides open his closet door, the clothes nicely hung and labeled by the days of the week. After finishing the morning ritual he grabs his sack lunch out of the fridge and heads out the door with his leather case in hand. Descending down the stairs counting each step as he goes walking across the street to the bus stop. Raising his arm twisting his wrist to check the time. 6:10, ten minutes before the bus arrives. The sun slowly creeps over the horizon bathing the sky rise with light. He places the case between his arm and his side as he places his hands into his trouser pockets. Leaning over the curb checking to see if the bus was coming. A sliver of light catches his eyes, momentarily blinding him. He rubs his eyes until his vision returns right as the bus pulls up to the curb. The doors fold open and he steps onto the bus making his way past the usuals. A man who smells of vodka, an elderly woman who always pulls the bell two stops too early and a man in a hard hat who never seems to stop eating. His usual spot is the window seat adjacent to the emergency exit. He sits down and lays his case on his lap. He flips open the latches and opens the case pulling out a copy of his favorite book, Alice in Wonderland. The book his mother read to him when he was a child. Taking his new reading glasses from his coat pocket and places them on his nose. He flips open to his favorite part with his favorite character. The White Rabbit with his well kept vest and his over sized pocket watch, ever vigilant of the concept of time and its consequence. The bus jerks forward. Several blocks later the man in the hard hat rings the bell and exits through the back door. The bus continues on. It takes a turn at the next light. The bell rings again and the man who smells of cheap liquor stumbles his way towards the exit. The bus comes to a halt, he loudly belches before he exits the bus.
Two blocks another turn the bus comes to an abrupt stop. Alice and all the antics of Wonderland flung from his hands and onto the floor. He leans forward and picks up the book. Leaning back in his seat he notices two men out the window. They are standing next to the twisted metal of a car accident.The bumper of a Taurus was lodged into the bed of a little white pick up truck. The two men shook hands after obtaining each others information. He couldn't make it out, but one of the men pulled something from his coat pocket. He squints his eyes and realizes it is a gun! The man shoots the other at point blank range. His brains like a firework display caught in slow motion paints the sidewalk. Blinking in disbelief he quickly removes his glasses to see more clearly what would happen next, but as if nothing had happened the two men were shaking hands surely as they were before.
"It doesn't make any sense" he thought. The sweat from his cheek bone dribbles down into the sink where it slowly finds it's way to the drain. "There is an explanation" he assured himself. A salty dew finds his lips. He curls his toes and continues to glare into the mirror.
Earlier that afternoon...
The office is filled with the noise of telephones and the clicking of keyboards. Like a white collar zombie chained to his desk he drones on, calculating superfluous figures and jots down notes. A slave to routine and the vernacular. A woman giggles loudly. He ignores it and glances at the clock like his favorite character from his childhood stories. Such a wonderful place he thought, the place of do as you please. 3:15. another 15 minutes until work is over. Again he hears a woman giggling. The secretary has a habit of flirting with the manager. She leans forward exposing her cleavage as she pours him his cup of coffee in his little white mug. His eyes fixed upon the pink balls of flesh that hang from her chest. She doesn't really like him, but she flirts with him none the less. Whether for ulterior motives like a raise or promotion, perhaps she doesn't get enough attention at home it is unknown. Disgusted he turns his head away back into the monitor.
Suddenly he hears violent screams. Whipping his head back around to see his manager tearing off the secretaries blouse and begins to rape her on his desk. Knocking over his coffee into his lap, his glasses are flung from his face as he frantically tries to remove the coffee from burning his legs. Again he hears giggling once more and as if nothing had happened there she was once again pouring his coffee into the managers little white mug.
His hands begin to perspire, his palms sweaty. He tightens his grip on the porcelain. "There is a reasonable explanation" he proclaimed. "Maybe I don't want to know" he thought. "There is a reasonable explanation!" he repeated. "What if there isn't?" he thought. "Of course there is!" he yelled. Something was not right this he knew. The ticking of the clock echoes in his mind, thinking that the hands of the clock would reach out and choke the life out of him maybe even hoping that it might silence the madness that was slowly creeping up on him.
Earlier that evening...
Unlike the bus ride to work, the bus was filled with loud and boisterous teenagers on their way home from school. His usual spot was taken by a ghastly looking adolescent who was gleefully sucking on a child's pacifier. Unable to read he just pondered the events that had transpired, if they had at all. The couple in the seat in front of him were discussing finances. He found it annoying and pulled the glasses from his coat pocket in an attempt to read. The noise on the bus elevates and the couple in front of him compensate by talking even louder as if to advertise their personal affairs. The man places his hand on his partners shoulders. A beautiful white wedding band on the mans ring finger catches in the sun. But like a mad dog as if she had somehow upset him he begins to yell at her. Trying to avoid the couple in the front as if it was some unholy apparition he looks down at his watch, 4:30 only another 10 or so minutes until he would be home.
The man with the white wedding band then puts his hands around her neck and begins to suffocate her. Hiding behind he book he takes off his glasses and places them on his lap. He closes his eyes tight hoping that it would go away. Opening his eyes only moments later and just as before there they were discussing their finances.
He uncurls his toes and licks the sweat from his lip. "There is something... something that connects it all." Like a strip of film he dissects each frame for that elusive catalyst. His eyes still connected into the mirror an with a gasp he raises his eyebrows. "The glasses!" "What about them?" he thought in retaliation. "They were always on when the situation got out of control and when I took them off the situation was back to normal. Yes! It's the glasses!" His heart began to pound like an unwanted visitor at his front door. "That's ridiculous! Glasses don't change your perception of reality!" His breathes become shorter and more sporadic like a mouse's heart after the wheel. "There isn't any other explanation!" he shouted violently. A deep and disturbing calm came over him. "Only one thing can change my perception of reality and thats me." Everything stopped a long eerie silence filled the room. Again frames from the turbulent chain of events that haunted him began to project themselves . He saw the man pull the trigger and when he had finished he turned his head towards him. He looked closely and he saw himself with a grizzly smile that comes with unfettered freedom without consequence. His eyes grew bigger and he glared at his reflection as if for the first time. Long hours in the mirror looking down the rabbit hole. Like the White Rabbit searching for the land of do as you please. A chill ran up his spine, followed by an exhale of relief. He dropped his head and looked down at the glasses that were folded neatly on the sink. He picked them up and placed them on his nose. Slowly he raises his head up to the mirror. A crooked smile creeps across his face. "Free" The sound of shattering glass is heard.
This portion is not part of the story. This is my explanation of Mr. Matthew's life. But I would please encourage you to come to your own conclusions. I left a few holes, for you the reader to decide what exactly occurred. I would actually request that if you are going to write review that you please tell me your thoughts. Some thought he jumped out the window, and died, some thought he broke the mirror. Please share your thoughts. First it is to note that Mr. Matthew's is a rather dull and boring individual he represents the general populace. White collar man stuck in the regimented 9-5 lifestyle. He stares in the mirror everyday to reflect upon his day. There is a strange irony to this since he first states that everyday is the same. So we find a strange paradox. Why would he reflect on his day if everyday is the same? This is the first question that comes to mind when I read that first paragraph. Next we notice the Alice in Wonderland reference's. I tried to correlate the similarities with the White Rabbit and Mr. Matthews. Much like the White Rabbit, Mr Matthews is obsessed with the concept of time constantly checking his watch but also that they both are looking for the Rabbit Hole. In the story the mirror represents the Rabbit Hole. Wonderland represents freedom. He stares in the mirror (rabbit hole) searching for his true self that is free. The strange events that occurred are actually being projected by his subconscious mind. These alternate realities are in fact his own desires. In other words what his true self would do if he was in the other person's shoes. I tried to show that the connection to the rabbit and these events were related to him by placing a white object in each scene that is actually a symbolic representation of himself. So far no one has caught that and I think is of my own fault I will have to try to stress more importance on that some how. Finally what is really occurring in the bathroom is a eerie dialog of two people. Mr. Matthew's conscious mind and his subconscious mind. For some you could say it is a dialog between to archetypal figures the good and evil in us all. A personal transformation is occurring, from good (dull and boring) to evil (freedom). I myself do not believe in the concept of good and evil to stress this in my story I tried to show that his "good" self which was him talking out loud was lying to his subconscious self (evil) by convincing himself that the glasses were responsible for these strange series of events, a form of denial. His true-self is reveled and he discovers true freedom without consequence. His first act of freedom is the breaking of the mirror. I do hope you enjoyed the read.