Coming UnStuck

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I've been stuck in a rut for the past six months. When I sat out on my balcony, I looked over the bright lights of the city and see all the people running back and forth. They all have somewhere to go, someone to see, something to do. I could be one of them, I knew that, but this weight like a mountain rested on my shoulders and I couldn't move. Lying in bed, I blinked and the day was over. Sunrise became sunset before I'd had time to clear my throat.


Everything felt like it was in fast-forward. And I had no motivation to get up and grab the remote. Days passed and it felt like seconds.  I was so tired, all I wanted to do was cry, but by the time I worked up the energy to do that, it was time to go back to sleep.


Then I ran out of food. I knew I had to go outside. I had to get something. As hard as it was to move, I didn't want to just lie there and die.


Pulling on my clothes, I felt like a rusted machine, every action jerky and graceless. My hair was ratty, sticking up at odd angles. Spiky stubble stuck out of my jaw. Red veins took over most of the whites of my eyes.


"It doesn't matter," I said out loud to my reflection. My voice sounded hoarse and dry. "No one cares."


I opened my door and almost fell over backwards. The light. It was so blinding. This brightness unlike anything I remembered. And the hum of those fluorescent bulbs - I couldn't breathe. I could feel it in my lungs to the point of collapse.


Out in the hallway, the sound of my shoes on the carpet send shivers up my spine. The elevator walls seemed as if to be closing in on me. I could hear the twang and rumble of the elevator cables, I had to slam my hands over my eardrums.


Outside, the air was crisp, at once hot and cold. The wind bit through to my bones, while I burst out in a heavy sweat. Car exhaust made my throat close up, the smell of it was overwhelming. And the constant horns! Always beeping.


A motorcycle ripped past and I thought my hard would explode from the sound.


People bumped past me. Their eyes were staring daggers, digging into me, demanding an explanation for my existence. I had no words for them. I just shouldered past and went on.


Each footstep away from the safe capsule of the apartment felt like a thousand miles. I'd never be able to cover the distance back home.


This was a mistake, the voice in my head said. Another one in a long list you keep making. I'll read the list back to you tonight.


Tears wanted to burst forth from me, but I kept them in check. I didn't know how long I could hold on, though.


Waiting to cross the road, I was forced to just stand there and absorb everything. The world. Listen to the sounds. Smell the odors. Taste the wind. Suffer the sights. Finally, the light changed and I stepped out into the road.


And a blinding pain rushed through my body.


A pressure like a speeding train slammed into my and sent me sprawling across the blacktop. For a moment, I lay there, dazed. People were gasping and I could hear footsteps.


"Shit, man, oh God," said a terrified voice. "Are you all right? Fuck. I'm so sorry!"


I looked over and it was this woman. She was terrified. She must have been in her early thirties, no older than that. Her car was just beyond where I was lying. A small, blue hatchback.


A few faces came into view, then. An old Asian couple, leaning forward. The old man extended his hand and helped me up. A sharp pain shot through my knee, but with his help I was able to hobble to the side of the road.


The woman followed. She just left her car sitting there. Traffic wasn't moving. A lot of people were just sitting there, watching.


"Are you okay?" the old man said. "You hurt?"


"I don't know," I said.


The old man made a low grumbling sound, like one of disapproval.


"Sit," he said.


So, I sat on the ground. My knee really hurt. I could hear the sound of an sirens in the distance.


"Does anything hurt?" the young woman said. She took off her big sunglasses to look me in the eyes.


"My knee," I said. "My knee hurts."


"Shit," she said. "Lift up your pants, let me see."


When I went to do that, the old Asian woman began to shout, speaking in quick Cantonese at the old man. He nodded and turned to me, saying, "Don't take off pants. My wife used to be a nurse. She said, if you have broken bones, then pants could be only thing holding leg together."


I blanched at the idea, but for some reason, stayed calm. The young woman who had hit me, though, was starting to cry. Big, fat tears spilling down her cheeks. She was babbling, wondering what she was going to do.


"You should move your car," I said.


She looked around. The people who had stopped to stare were done, now, and wanted to move on with their day. The show was no fun if there wasn't any blood.


"Oh, yeah," she said. Followed by another, "Shit."


She moved her car, parking just around from where we were all milling. The ambulance arrived, along with a squad car. The witnesses dealt with the cop, while the ambulance tech checked me out.


"You're in shock," she said. She said her name was Valery.


"Is that why I'm so calm?" I asked.


"Yeah," she said. "Also why you're shaking."


I hadn't even noticed the shaking. I looked down at my hands and, sure enough, they were shaking.


"Will I be okay?" I asked.


"Yeah, in a little bit," Valery said. "Your knee is a little banged up, too, so we're going to take you to the hospital, okay?"


"Okay," I said.


"Can you stand?" she said.


"Yeah," I said.


So Valery took my to the ambulance. The cop was dealing with the young woman who hit me. She was crying and he was shaking his head, looking down at his notepad.


"Is she gonna be all right?" I asked Valery.


"The girl who hit you?" she asked, and I nodded. "Yeah. They'll slap her with a reckless driving charge, probably. And she'll have to pay for your medical bills. That sorta thing."


"Okay," I said.


And off we went, siren blaring. And I was still hungry.

Created: May 11, 2017

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