DesignStory ︎︎ 18 Dec 2016          

Low Back Support

My boss calls me into his office. I pop up from my desk, turn just around the corner, and flatten my crinkled sweater from sitting all morning before I step in.


He’s sitting in his chair, eyes glued to the computer screen, but it feels like he could launch into outer space at any moment.

“This is a little dark,” he points to an email on his screen. I walk in a bit further and adjust my stance to see what he sees. “Brighten it up and then send it over to the client.” He remains looking at the screen, examining, “Cool?” He flips his head towards me, eyes bright, waiting for me to respond.

“Cool,” I chirp and turn out as quickly as I came in.

I stop in the kitchen on the way back from my desk to grab some coffee. There are two co-workers chatting next to the sink that I know but don’t KNOW, you know? I smile at them. They’re deep in debate about the new Robin Thicke video. You know, the one with all the topless girls and Pharrell? I don’t care too much, but I peek over at the video on the phone because I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do.

And because I’m glad to be there.
I’m happy to be there.

After a moment, I shake my head and laugh because — boys — and I walk away. I still don’t care, but I’m happy to be there.

I plop back down in my chair and set my coffee to the left of my keyboard and back an arm’s length. Any closer and the keyboard gets it.

I settle in to answer a chat message, a text, and a few emails before diving into the day’s work.

This mindless life,
this light life,
this structured everyday.
I don’t know if I’m happy, but I’m happy to be there.
I’m glad to be there.
What I know is that I feel good to be there.
In my swivel chair with the poor low back support
and my computer that freezes whenever I try to print an InDesign file,
I call over the half wall to Joey and he yells at me, “Restart your computer!”

I don’t know if I’m happy,
but it’s good that I’m there.

︎

BREAK.

Wake…slowly.

I’m lying down.
Wait, this is a different. Is this the wrong reality? Oh, no it’s right.
Here I am.

I’m in an ocean, a dark sea on drugs. I can’t see. No,
I’m inside. In bed. In my apartment where I live and have lived and pay rent,
Sort of.

This is real.
This is the “right” reality. The one I made.

Everything is wobbly and weaving.
I’m floating and not sure where I am.

But that’s fucking dumb, because I’ve been in the same spot for months. I haven’t moved. In fact, my parts are stiff from the not moving.

My neck, my arms, I can’t feel them.
I can’t feel much of anything.

Oh, wait. Yes I can. There it is. The Nothing.
The Swamp of Sorrows without the sorrow
Because emotion is a word like rainbow is a word and color and feelings lost their value a long time ago.

But I have hands
And they touch my face.

My eyes are still in their sockets. Good.
My tits, my chest. There they are. I feel a pulse. Good.
My heart is in my chest, there it is. There it is. Good.

I bet I smell like blood.
My organic deodorant is just for show.
I bet I taste like sap on bark, dirty but desirable.
Dripping once, now hard. Stiff from trying. Petrified in spite of itself.

From the outside, you see an ambered mosquito, shimmering in the light.
A trinket to ooh and ahh at
While inside she’s paralyzed.
Full of blood but dead, you fucking monster.
Do you think she’s happy to be there?

Do you think she feels glad to be there?
Maybe she’s in a dream.
Maybe in her dream she’s glad and happy and has optimal low back support.
If not, I know a good chiropractor.
I hope she has health insurance.
I hope she knows I love her.

I hope she knows that I KNOW her, you know? That I care
About the debate she’d rather not have over coffee.
And that I’m cheering for her.

I hope she knows that I have no idea how she ended up so poised and glamorous, but that it doesn’t matter to me and her black and white blood that is like mine is all that matters.
And I’ll tell everyone for her.
I hope she feels glad in her dream.
I hope she’s happy to be there.
And I hope she never wakes up.
︎︎

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©2017 Jillian Adel