Chapter One 
 

Journal Entry:

 

Do you ever think about the red lights you miss, or make? The appointment you cancel or reset? Remember that stranger you yelled at on tech support, the one who didn't deserve your harsh words -- or the friend you've helped, or hurt? What ripples did these tiny, "insignificant" choices create in your life, and the lives of others?

 

These decisions put you in locations you wouldn't be in, and you'll be introduced to people you wouldn't know. Sometimes choices, seal your destiny. Fate deals the cards, but you play the hand -- are you where you should be or are you completely away from where you should be at?

 

Yes, I know, so dumb to think about but I do a lot. Because what if I caught the red, and catching it creates a crash I wouldn't be in, it kills me or a family? My mother saying I'm morbid rings clear in my ears, but I can't help but think about these things. What if I miss said light and I'm left standing on the corner waiting just minutes more? While what is a few meaningless, minuscule minutes, I meet the love of my entire life, at that coordinate?

 

I'm still learning things are meant to happen when they do. You'll stay when you do or go when you choose. I find myself often thinking about those other universes -- parallel lives of my own and others. We're all one text, one call, one decision away from a collectively different life -- our life can change in a second. So abrupt, it will seem like dreaming while woke. Sometimes, a nightmare you can't awake from because the horror is happening while you're not sleeping.

 

What if I stay late at work one evening and this causes me to cross the drawbridge to my house twenty-three minutes delayed. In doing so, I come across a young mother who had enough and is ready to jump off said bridge. I talk her out of taking her own life, because I'm with her when no one else is -- I'm at a point I wouldn't be. Had I left on time or early, she may be dead. Would death chase her or me for getting involved in her timeline?

 

The ripple effect is a real thing, and the ripples you cause make waves in the existence of others -- life is all the small things.

 

Lazily, I batter my hand down on snooze, I'm up and just laying here with my common pondering, but I still let the annoyance go off. That 'alarm sound' is one of the worst things in life, I despise the sound so much -- makes me want to kill myself. Well, not for real -- I'm not suicidal today, which is a positive.

 

I open one eye, and peer out from within my deep stagnation. No, no nuke this morning. No earth-shattering blast only means one thing, got to go to work. Life could be worse, I could be unemployed, living in a cardboard box under a bridge. This job's better than most, kept this one the longest, so it means something.

 

I shimmied to the edge of the bed and chill -- I needed to start up, like an old car. I'm never able to make my way without hopscotching over my three cats and I'm not capable of going anyplace without stumbling over something. The definition of a klutz is me -- my photo is right next to the word in the dictionary.

 

I snatched my phone on the way to the bathroom and opened the music app. NataOne is still on pause from the night before. I love his music -- I thumb down the list like a mad hatter, looking for my favourite song -- Burnt Memories. Zoning out to him is part of my daily regimen.

 

Great music is rare these days -- fuck, good music is rare. Music went down the shitter, didn't it? I like old school music, but everybody has a different definition of what old is. His lyrics are made of substance, isn't much of that around in music or people, these days.

 

I jumped in the shower. Keeping myself to a strict routine, or I wouldn't do anything if I didn't. Most of the time I don't eat breakfast. I'll chow down on the choo-choo. I know, not proper, whatever -- who says what's allowed anyhow? Eat my dinner on the subway, so many stares from all the people who think I'm not polite. Funny, they never say anything to the drunk guy pissing in the corner.

 

I rushed from one place to the other and I never catch a moment to sit down, relax and eat. Probably the best time to calm down though, when you don't have the time. If you do, you probably didn't earn the break. What my mother always said -- if I'm not working, I'm visiting her, my dad, and my little sister April.

 

My job is in a call centre but isn't close to what I wanted to do. One day, I wanted to be a psychiatrist. Dr. Nylah Diamond, with a name like that, shine you must. Well, isn't today, so I'm off to the office soon. Must I go glimmer where no one will admire my sparkle?

 

Time for my legal drugs. I made my way to the kitchen to start my first mug of coffee and roll up a joint -- wake and bake is the way. The phone goes off, never fails someone always tries to communicate with me when I'm in a blitz but never when I'm early.

 

Looking at my call display, I recognized the number and hesitate. Same number would show up on my screen, repeatedly, over the last seven years -- how could I ever dismiss it from my mind? Why can't I demolish those damn digits from my brain? I want nothing more than amnesia.

 

Why am I answering this or even considering this? He's an ex for a reason -- had he wanted to talk this much when we used to be together, we still would be. What am I saying? Not a chance in fresh hell -- screw you, Stu!

 

"What?" forcing out the words, I speak in a monotone protest. "What do you want?"

 

"Don't attempt to sound so enthusiastic." The sarcastic voice on the other end said. "Why so rude?"

 

"Honestly? You want to talk to me about being discourteous?" shooting back, in disgust.

"Please, I wanted to speak to you, I’ve missed you. Mistakes were made, some big blunders and I'm sorry -- I still love you."

Why do exes come back into your life when you're over them and happy? When you're moving on and getting your shit back on track. If you loved me then, like truly did -- we'd still be together now. Your priorities and lack thereof in some situations, are one of the reasons you're not with me.

 

Some things, you and they, don't deserve back. Too many times people don't appreciate what they embrace, while they have it. They only start appreciating you when you become a memory to them. They only turn into who you asked them to be all along, later, for someone else after you. Then, you're a crazy liar because he is now this "perfect" guy for someone else, apparently -- like the bad one never existed.

 

Let them think you're crazy, fuck them. People's true colours will always shine through, and when life gets real, you'll catch sight of who is real.

 

"Mistakes were made, blunders? You miss me, you still love me? Don't think you ever fucking loved me, Stu!"

 

He considers what he's done aberrations? Lies, always with the lies -- at what time do dudes stop lying, anyone, Bueller?

 

You say sorry when you tread on someone's shoes or sway into them. You don't apologize to them for cheating on them or for putting your hands on them. Then, when they confront you, you don't try to turn everything all around on them. Oh, and the nerve to call sixty times, since? Insanity, the meaning to a tee -- doing the same but expecting different.

 

"Goodbye, nothing left to say to you, Stu -- we're over, I'm going to work."

 

I slam the phone down hard, pinching my hand. I head to the john.

 

Didn't pain me like Stu, though. Or like the 'men' beforehand, who said they were one thing and turned out to be distinctly the opposite of what they said. They all stop trying once they obtain me, like I was some sort of achievement to them. They stop chasing me once they have me -- trusting again will be unlikely.

 

Men think we're all the same -- nobody said you had to try us all, gentlemen. Men can sleep with ten, fifteen, thirty women, and they're 'the man,' but a woman does the same, and she's 'promiscuous?'

 

Things do go both directions though, when Stu punched me and I socked him back, authorities were called. They were favouring me from the start. Not saying what Stu did was right by any means, but they sided with me right away, pinning him as the wrongdoer.

 

We were both covered in blood all over our faces -- him even more so, and we both called them. Yes, man had the balls to call the police on me when I clocked him back during the beatings. A couple of times I was even charged and spent the night in jail, for getting beaten -- awesome, right?

 

Meh, don't dish out if you can't take in, but my point is a lot of women use this. They attack a man, their own self, or the man defends himself against the woman when given no choice. The woman runs to 9 1 1 and says he was the aggressor, and they instantly arrest him, no questions asked.

 

Also, the man is the one in many instances made to leave. If anyone assaults someone, that person should swing on them back, man or woman -- equality, right ladies? I could go on, but my shower is over and so are these bathing thoughts.

 

Finishing, I step out and dry off while I run into my sleep chambers in my skin suit. I try to tuck away, dashing by the open curtain. In all honesty, I don't have time to give any fucks if someone is watching me, enjoy the show, freak.

 

I put on my underwear and jeans, snap up my bra and chuck on my blouse. While installing my feet in my socks, I walk down my hallway and I bounce on one foot. The sock gets stuck on my baby toe -- almost making me trip. Thankful I didn't plummet to the ground; I gather my long brown hair up into a loose ponytail.

 

Back to the kitchen now, I serve another cup of coffee into my travel mug and spin up another doobie to go. I take my keys and head for the door -- today is going to be a long day.

 

***

 

Shady Acres famous line of mobility, the SATA -- something that irks me is the shit is never on time. Give my all, doesn't matter. I'm on time, well, fuck off, now you're late. Should be their slogan for real. 'Fuck you, you're late!'

 

The SATA was always fucking late -- and always present, was a person who didn't bathe as if it slipped their minds. Or someone did, in their perfume. Man, sometimes the fragrance is so bad I can taste the chemicals. You fucking like strawberry's mama. The bottle says strawberry scent, but damn, sure doesn't have the flavour.

 

More times than not, someone chattering away to the masses, in a corner seat. Their hand is in their shorts, other times up in their nose -- always something surprising on the subway.

 

Also, never fails you'll run into someone who will talk to everyone on the convoy but doesn't have anything of substance to say. The person you want to start up a conversation, never says a damn word to you, your whole fucking trip. Or side note, you're dressed fucking wicked-awesome today and don't run into anyone. But go out to run a few quick errands in PJ bottoms, a tank top and a messy bun, and BAM -- fucking reunion.

 

The worst are people on their phones talking loudly. I try not to give any attention, but who can help it? They speak as though no one is around. The other day I overheard someone say she did acid with Jesus because she couldn't find any coke. She was sitting next to a toddler who was trying to alert his conked-out, exhausted mother up.

 

One of the many who is tired, because they try to make a forty-hour week at a minimum wage job. Only to receive a phone call to come home early because her son wouldn't take a sleep at daycare. I bet she'd love a rest, want to trade, kid -- you'll beg for a nap someday. Oh, how I love this underground atrocity, the strangers that cross.

 

Being wrapped up in my mind again, I almost miss my stop. Sure enough, the SATA I need is full, so the operator didn't stop. Same with the next two -- why am I always late?

 

Finally, I'm on, squishing up against this warthog of a woman. She appears to have crawled up from the bowels of the abyss. I'm later than my customary late. My turn to exit, a gal pushes me with her stroller, shoving in front of me to unload first. Man, do I ever want to smash her head into the side of the bus, but I didn't though, I'm growing here.

 

"Princess, I'm getting off, too -- cool out!" I shouted at her.

 

She doesn't even acknowledge I'm here, and continues being intrusive in my personal bubble, trudging on through. She doesn't speak English, so she hasn't a clue what I said. Someone's going to give her a thumping.

 

Taking out my passkey card and I swipe the fucking thing four times before the piece decides to work. Losing no time, I put on my headset while accelerating. My supervisor doesn't set his sniper scope on me. Sneakily, I sit down -- realizing I didn't even have time to take a drink of my coffee the whole way here. Cold coffee, awesome. Now I wait until my break -- well, I can't end my night until I start.

 

If I'm forced to hash over, 'thank you for contacting the advertising store' once more, my tongue will belly flop out of my mouth to my desk. People are always complaining about random shit -- kind of like what I'm doing, but at least I do this noiselessly, in my head.

 

During our training, they tell us to understand and be apologetic. No shock people exaggerate so much, half of the time we're paid to do so. Whether we work in a customer service office, 'sure I understand, and I am so sorry for the matters you're having.' No, I'm not, Susan -- I don't give a fuck.

 

Retail. A big one. 'You're a doll in that outfit, ma'am! The moo-moo brings out the colour of your eye patch.' Car sales would be on the list, too. 'Nothing wrong with this baby, ever. This beauty right here was only brought back because the people couldn't use it any longer -- sprints like heaven.'

 

Wherever you work, all fallacies -- fibs make money in so many industries. Cosmetic companies, they tell you to be disgusted with you and they profit off your self-hate. They tell you you're ugly and you need their shit, then they inform you on where to buy your beauty. So dismal. In my personal life, I never lie, you only do that when you're afraid.

Never could I or would I sell cosmetics for that reason. What do I provide to the people? Advertising slots, exciting, right? Don't rise out of your seat, yet. Most interactions go something like this, 'I understand you paid for a ten-second slot, sir. We know how extra important this is to you to advertise your ultra shitty, salmonella diner. We can't do anything about the other advertisements on the television while yours is on, though -- sorry, but that is beyond our control.' I'll clarify -- but explaining did nothing. They're right. Like all customers were, right?

 

Sipping my cold caffeine, I press mute on the keypad -- it's better than no caffeine. Standing up to shake-off my legs, I give a glimpse across the call centre, what a sight -- a sea of cubicles. One guy is napping or more than potentially, dead? Not sure -- another woman is knitting. Another employee is looking at the newspaper. A next one is trying far too hard for his hourly wage -- standing up like he is selling stocks. Some days I'm cheerier than others, some I do the bare minimum, life is all about balance.