A life unfulfilled By Brian Adrian

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Mary is walking down the same street she has walked through to get to work for the past 5 years. She knows too well she has to walk 2 added blocks to be able to go down this street. If you asked Mary why she does it, she will simply explain it is because she loves how the trees fit the pavement. She loves how the autumn yellows, reds, and oranges speak to her every time she walks through Cherry Street. Mary never walks Cherry on the weekends. She decided when she discovered Cherry Street that she would never allow herself to walk Cherry on the weekends. Craving the familiarity, beauty, and simplicity of the pavements on the days she went to work. She made greeting cards you see. And Mary found her creativity contrived, forced, and imagined all of the time. Mary loved Cherry because of what she called, “The realness of it all.” She loved the idea that these colors were here all of the time… at all times of the year… with no variation in color or sign that these trees were ever trimmed or worked on. Wait, she thought that Friday. She doesn’t know if they maintain these trees exclusively on the weekends. This must be the case. Plus, she never did study trees, or plants or anything like that to know with any degree of certainty whether there are trees that have this type of foliage all year round. Mary loved this street.

Mary was dreading Saturday. She never imagined she would have a routine. But here she was. She put on a night gown at exactly 10pm on Friday nights, 1 hour later than the rest of the week because she allowed herself to be “spontaneous” on Friday nights. She waited for someone to ring her, but hardly anyone did. Her friends stop trying much because she always said she worked late, and was tired by the time she got home. She had been told on Friday at work that her expertise would be needed for a special greeting card that required her specific skill set. She figured she was being told to come in because they knew she would say yes. She was all right with it. What truly bothered Mary the most was that she would have to walk Cherry on a weekend. The sole purpose of walking down Cherry on Monday was to feel the rush, embrace the beauty, and feel the realness of the pavement after aching to see it the entire weekend.

Mary decided not to go down Cherry Street today. She decided she wouldn’t ruin the experience and even though she would have to work on a day she normally did not, Cherry Street would remain sacred. Mary started her Saturday morning like she would any other day. But she knew almost instantly upon walking into the office that something was different. The entire department was filled with people. It seemed they had been waiting for her to come in. Then, she knew it, unequivocally; the sign hanging on the wall said it all. They had brought her in because she was being promoted. Mary knew she should feel happy and honored, but she was truly upset. She had not wanted a promotion, and had turned it down many times after she discovered Cherry Street. Knowing beauty like that was rare. She decided she was happy where she was, and with what she was doing. She even agreed to pay 300 dollars more for the apartment she lived in, after failing to find anything else in the area, solely for the purpose and ability to walk through Cherry Street.

Mary was polite, said thank you, and walked away from the celebration and proceeded to exit the building. Suddenly, feeling a soft hand on her shoulder, she turned and saw Steven there. He was a nice enough man who had previously asked her out on a few occasions. She had turned him down. She had just asked Steven to please leave her alone, when he quite bluntly stated, “Mary, live a little! We are all here to celebrate you!” Mary became upset with Steven. She did not care to know what he thought of her, and sought no approval by him or anyone else at this party. She did not ask for a promotion and they knew well she did not want one. She stormed out, making a scene so out of character; Steven followed her out of the building and into the street. Steven had no choice. Mary was running, crying, and on that day, upset and filled with tears, Mary broke the promise she had made not to go down Cherry Street.

Running, crying, and now suddenly exhausted, Mary looks up and sees what appears to be a mirror in the middle of the sidewalk. She stares at the reflection, but quickly realizes her reflection isn’t reflecting anything she is doing.

It is not confused at what it is looking at as she is. It knows who I am, and it knows it isn’t a reflection of me.

It knows me.

Quickly, I try to speak. But with greater speed than I believed to be normal, she is standing right in front me. I am scared. This has to be a dream. This can’t be happening to me. Mary is desperately trying to snap back to reality. Mary begins to retrace her steps. She remembers waking up in the morning and telling herself she would not go down Cherry Street. She remembers walking into her office, and being dismayed at the banner on the wall that said, “Congratulations on your promotion Mary!” She remembers the pain she felt after Steven utter those seemingly innocent words to her and she remembers storming out of the building….

She remembers being confused about the sameness of Cherry Street but figured the trees were trimmed and taken care of on the weekends just yesterday.

Enough Mary! I can hear what you’re saying to yourself in that pretty little head of yours. 5 years I have allowed you to walk down my street hoping you would realize you were meant for more than what you are doing. Hoping you recognized that you are truly unhappy. Hoping you realized routine is just a body and mind overcome with laziness. Mary, I let you marvel at Cherry Street in this way so that you could see what beauty and breadth life can have if you allow yourself to look! But you… you…you took Cherry Street for granted!

And in that instant, Cherry Street, as Mary had known it, was gone. As she had fallen in love with it; the crisp coolness blowing on her cheeks, the sunlight splashing its last rays of light hitting the leaves as the day ended on her way home from work. The autumn oranges, reds, and, yellows all gone. There, right where Cherry Street had stood was now Lincoln Street. It was the dull, bland and uninteresting street she lived on. It was the street her apartment had been on for the past 5 years.

Mary was confused. She was scared because her reflection was definitely no reflection, she could feel the warmth of her breath. It was almost hot. Mary looked into the eyes now piercing into her and saw the sculpture she had once molded in college. She was studying sculpting then, her long life passion. She looked deeper and longer and saw herself, standing in front of a gallery of her sculptures. Sculptures she had done. Others she had envisioned. She saw her life. The one she had forgotten about.

Her reflection was reflecting. But she wasn’t reflecting her. She was reflecting what was deep inside her...

There, as Mary geared herself to speak to this woman that looked so much like her, happy with what she believed was about to happen…

No Mary. What is in your mind will not happen, EVER. I am not here to make you realize lost or forgotten potential. I am not here to give you a second chance. I am not here because you fell into an alternate universe and you will wake up from this “dream” to be the person you believed you were always meant to be. Mary, I am here to take your life from you. I am here to tell you that you have wasted everything that was given to you, and I am taking over. Mary, your life ends now. You had your chance. You squandered it Mary! You lived safely; you lived like you had all the time in the world. Mary, say good bye to the pathetic life you had. Mary…. Goodbye Mary…

As Steven finally catches up to Mary, he reaches out to her and grabs her softly by her shoulder. Mary turns around and smiles at Steven. Steven asks, “Mary, are you all right?! I am so sorry…”

Please, Steven, call me Julie.

Created: Aug 17, 2012


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