“Quarter Past Nine” by Benjamin King
At all times, in his briefcase, by his side, he carries with him secret thoughts of suicide. A certain sadness, a Rubik’s cube, and a lunch box packed with food that he doesn’t like. Words scrawled on a notepad that he can’t remember or understand. He tries to read between the lines, “everything’s fine” but it’s raining now, not water from above but lies, he’s soaking wet, not dead yet but drenched by her betrayal. It’s hard to distinguish between the love and the pain, both so heavy. He switches the briefcase over to the other hand, fingers slipping in the rain. He wants to set it down, to sever the ties but instead his veins are calling his name in a voice that sounds like hers.
It isn’t her, though, he knows that briefcase was a gift at birth. Oh, the days that have begun and ended with crying, the nights alone, the dreams of dying, pondering the difference between life and nothing. Walking the earth, under the dirt, buried while all those people float on by in their balloons. Just once, when he was a boy, when he was a man, he wanted one of them to reach down and take him by the hand. Lift him up and carry him along, teach him the words to their impossible song. They tried, some of them did, some of them ran, some of them hid. But there were friends and lovers and strangers, too, who laid out plans, who drew Venn diagrams, who scribbled pictures of sunny skies. And he was happy for days and weeks and months and years or maybe not happy but okay. But like kids in the park he keeps coming back to that slide, scorching hot from the sun, the one that burns the backs of his legs as he begs for his feet to land on the ground but somehow on the way down he always flips back around and lands upon his head. Then the briefcase tumbles behind and there it is, always is, and it opens his mind to those ever present thoughts of death.
Then on the train he overhears a kid with a giant face, a Muppet with messy blonde hair say that life isn’t fair and suddenly it all makes sense. Everybody’s going to die, it’s just a matter of time. And now his watch says it’s a quarter past nine.
I am Benjamin King
I have a bachelor’s degree in not sleeping and a master’s degree in English (writing)
I once worked as one of those guys who waves the planes in at the airport
I publish Mandy Moore fan letters and pictures of people being tickled at www.rollerfink.blogspot.com