• It wasn’t the same for him. It hadn’t been for a long time. Things just weren’t the way they used to be back during that time he couldn’t quite remember. A strange thing to say but it was the way of the world now, even if everyone else had trouble recognizing it.

    His life had changed so much that he still felt like he was reeling from the impact. Every night was the same, but he had yet to grow accustomed to it. He’d lie down, allowing himself to drift down into some place of rest within himself. Sleep would come, time would pass, and he would wake. And upon opening his eyes, he would find himself wondering where the time had gone. He could never remember his dreams, and would often doubt that he was even having them any more. But as frustrating as this could be, it seemed small compared to the problems he faced when awake.

    The shroud of sleep lifted from his mind on this day and he found a soft bed beneath him. His eyes slid back and daylight pierced his world in a painful display. He quickly buried his face in the pillow under his head and stayed there, taking stock of his situation as he recovered from the shock.

    His mind roamed over his body in a mental systems check. He still had pants on and was apparently lying on top of the sheets. The room was a comfortable temperature but he had one hell of a splitting headache. That fact as well as the taste in his mouth made it obvious that last night was one spent ‘out’. Through the fog and the haze of what should be his mind, he was only able to ask himself a question. Why?

    Suddenly he was sitting up on the edge of his bed, recalling the urge to get up and the sudden head rush, but none of the time between. Dizziness and disorientation gripped his world for several perilous moments before he could finally think clearly enough to begin the day. Now it could start, in the same way it had each day before, with one very important task.

    With his right hand he rummaged through his pockets, feeling quite grateful for still having his pants on, until he gripped a slim, leather wallet. He yanked the object out and unfolded it in his lap. A driver’s license stared back at him from behind a little plastic window, his own face adorning a corner. His dark, shortly cropped hair did nothing at all to hide the blank stare his own brown eyes seemed to be giving him. But that’s all he could make out through the smudged polymer.

    He had to remove the card and hold it close to his face so that he could read the small print. “Let’s see” he rasped as he let his eyes roam over the ID until he found what he needed to. ‘Jeremiah Dellinger’ is what it said. He mumbled it out loud, testing the sound of it on his tongue. In his head he let it echo on and on without end. This was his key to getting through the day and he needed to make sure he would hold on to it. From this point on it was going to be a frustrating game that he still hadn’t gotten any better at playing.


    A sullen breeze in his hair and that hard sidewalk beneath his fresh looking shoes seemed almost to mock him and his choice to leave the walls he awoke in. The bright sun contented itself with hiding behind a passing bank of clouds, refusing its light to the casual city block and casting everything in a dull, autumn gray. He knew the cement would be cold to the touch, as would the metal pole that supported a street sign nearby. So he refused to lean up against anything in his T-shirt, despite his habits.

    It was obvious to those passing by that this man wasn’t happy to be out. But experience, plus a flamboyant note on the fridge, had told him that seclusion was ill advised. This sour disposition was a poor excuse for solitude to those who might come knocking. He would have to find some sort of solace in the fact that he knew where he had to be. A clear time and place were there as a reminder to make some kind of appointment. But now that he was here, he needed to find out what it was exactly that he had been meant to accomplish.

    “Jerry?” He cringed at the sound of a curious female voice behind him. Fear gripped his heart as misfortune’s shadow passed across his path. The small note, written on colored paper in his hand, unfolded discretely to allow a closer look. Oh please no. He begged internally. Don’t let it be this. Anything but this. It couldn’t be what he thought it was. The chances were just too slim, but since when had luck been one to favor him?

    With a grim curiosity he turned around and looked at the face of his engaging stranger. There stood a woman in front of him wearing worn jeans and a patterned top. He got the feeling that a look at her driver’s license might read much like his own, about 5’9” and around 28, maybe thirty. A short strapped purse accompanied her from her right shoulder as a question hung in her eyes. It was a question he could have easily answered, but there were two things keeping him from such an end. The first was his silent nature, and the second was his sincere hope she would realize a mistake and let him be. No such luck.

    This woman seemed willing to take over this selectively one sided conversation with a secretly terrified man. “I’m Kelly. The one Nick told you about. I’m glad I found you.” Kelly was radiating a bubbly joy, the polar opposite of how he felt on the inside right now. But he forced himself to smile and take a few steps towards his scheduled event. In his mind it was like walking off a plank, but he masked it with a nod and more smiling silence. Kelly went on for the both of them. “Sorry if I’m late but I had a little trouble finding the place”

    “D…Don’t worry about it.” He could almost hear the splash of water as he began to sink into his self fashioned ocean.

    Kelly continued to bubble and froth with mirth in an almost overwhelming display. “So should we head inside?” She made to gesture towards the building they were standing outside, but paused as something caught her. “Is something wrong? You seem different from how Nick described you.”

    For all that Nick seemed to be doing for him, he was ready to wrap his hands around that helpful little neck of his. “No. I’m just a little….” He spun a hand in the air as he searched for the right excuse that might get him out of this horrible predicament. Unfortunately, Kelly wasn’t willing to wait for him to find what he needed.

    “Nervous?” She offered with a relieved smile. “Blind dates aren’t always as bad as they say they are.”

    Fffuh. He half cursed. His last hopes for survival were dashed as this girl unveiled the horrible truth of his situation. This was the worst case scenario, and there was nothing he could do to make it better. Futility surged over him and he was forced to follow as he was led into the restaurant to meet his horrible fate. What a cruel hand he had been dealt this day. If only he could bring the night on early and end this tragic turn of events.


    The food came soon enough, but there had been enough time between sitting down and now for Kelly to pull off a short biography of how she got into this blind date in the first place. From how she told it, she had known Nick through a friend of hers. Nick had been talking about the trouble Jerry had been having with women and that sparked an idea between the two. Why not match up Jerry with Kelly, who had been absent from a relationship for some time now?

    Honestly, a few reasons came to mind. But he knew they were best left unsaid.

    Her captive only stared at her with a blank smile, nodding every now and then to fake attention. He was half looking at her, and half just looking over her shoulder. And for all that she was doing, he wasn’t listening to a word she said. His mind wasn’t on the date, but an escape route. He caught a few words here and there from her so that he could pretend he understood, but his mind was searching the social mine field ahead for the safest way out.

    Kelly practically lit up as her plate was set in front of her, and the poor man across from her had to smile a little too. He was glad that she could occupy herself more with her meal than with a verbal assault upon her date. But even this could only slow her down so much. Kelly settled her napkin into her lap and lifted her utensils before looking up and asking “So how did you get into this, Jerry?”
    He only shook his head and shrugged his shoulders in resignation. “It just…happened.”
    Kelly giggled at this as she swallowed the first bite of her fish. “Yeah, I know. It kind of feels like that sometimes. But I’m glad I came. So what do you like to do?”

    Panic began to set in as he realized it was coming to this point in the conversation. Now they were going to exchange their likes and dislikes. He had to think of a way out fast before things got too complicated. “Well, I like…” He said, trying to think of two things at the same time. “Walking, reading, solving puzzles, and sports I guess.” A truth, lie, half truth, and another lie came out of his mouth. To him it sounded like a random stream of words, but Kelly took to it quite well because a pleased look crossed her face.
    “They said you like sports.” She went on to list her own favorite things in great detail, but all the silent one could think about was the door they walked in through, and now sports for some odd reason. He tried to stay calm and think it out. There had to be something he could say that she wouldn’t think too much of. Meanwhile Kelly still had her questions to ask. “So do you still practice sports?”

    “Uh…” was the first thing on his mind. Did he still practice? He tried to think if he did or not. There wasn’t much evidence either way. He tried to think back to the home he had left for this and any indication to an answer. He remembered seeing a calendar on the fridge with an X on a few consecutive dates, but that didn’t really help. All that really told him was that today was Wednesday and there was an X on Tuesday. So then…Wait. Maybe he could…Yes. He had his way out.
    “Yeah,” he said with the first real smile today. “Actually it works out quite nice because practice got moved to Wednesday, so I could come without worrying about it.”
    Kelly’s smile faltered, and he was sure he could see the thought process. But he didn’t have to look hard because Kelly quickly voiced it for him. “But today is Wednesday.” A look of disbelief popped up on his face and his silence persisted. “Really. Today is Wednesday. Did you really have practice today?”
    He nodded and glanced around the restaurant. “Oh crap.” He exclaimed quietly. “I’ve got to go. I’m really sorry about this.” He said as he rose from his chair. “Tell you what, give me a call and we can reschedule.” And with that he was out of the door at an astonishing pace.


    The rest of the day passed too slowly for his liking. He spent what time was left sitting in front of the television or wandering about the kitchen to fill his empty stomach. A series of commercials flickered by that were occasionally interrupted by actual shows. The day had to end. It couldn’t go on forever, he was sure of that. He only had to wait until the time came. And when it finally did, he reacted in the exact same way as he always did.

    He found his bed once more and returned this body to the exact same position he had awoken in. As the darkness skulked across the sky outside, he remained face down on his mattress and tried his hardest to bring sleep on faster. Eventually it came and the shadows in his own head reached up to claim him. His mind drifted away and he was left with a dreamless, black space. Silence enshrouded him and the respite he wanted finally came again.


    Morning came again to call him from that time between. His eyes opened and he was thankful for the fact that the windows had their blinds shut. It was a welcome change from yesterday. The ceiling was plain and featureless, so it wasn’t hard to turn away and observe his surroundings. Carefully, he turned his head from side to side but other wise kept perfectly still.

    He was lying on his back, supported by the cushions of an old couch with what had to be the spare blanket draped over the lower half of his body. From what he could tell he was completely clothed except for the fact that his black sneakers were nestled up against the couch instead of on his feet. The faded black T-shirt was twisted around his torso, probably from rolling around in his sleep. But the dark blue jeans seemed to be unaffected and failed to constrict him as his other garment was.

    The living room he found himself in was small, but alright for what had to be an apartment. He sat up on the couch and swung his legs around so that his feet lay flat on the carpet, separated only by a pair of socks. His hands clumsily found his waist and patted the pocket areas down. A small amount of frustration nagged at the back of his brain when he found his pockets to be empty. He could already see himself spending the rest of the morning searching the rooms for the wallet that should be stored in his pants. But he breathed a sigh of relief when a bulging, fabric bill fold sat innocently on the coffee table along side a set of keys and a small collection of loose change.

    Eagerly he snatched the packed device and snapped it open on the convenient surface of the table. A small amount of rummaging through the numerous little pouches inside of the wallet and he found the driver’s license he had needed. He couldn’t get through the day if he didn’t have this piece of information. He needed these little, underestimated pieces of society in order to keep himself from falling into awkward situations.

    He sighed again and turned the plastic card in his hand before setting a smooth chin into his left palm. A dull gaze met the card when it was lifted to his face. His eyes scanned the small, black print lazily, going from height to weight and utterly ignoring the familiar picture in the corner, until again he found the most important thing of all. “Mitchell Wendell.” He breathed, testing the sound of it on his tongue. In his head he let it echo on and on without end. He had to memorize this key for getting through the day, because losing this game held some unpleasant consequences.

    Now it was time to get out and see if it was going to be any better than yesterday.


    Another day, another place, and another 14 hours spent wondering what ill fortune could be waiting around the next corner. With an attitude like that maybe it was only natural for him to pick a place where there were as few corners as possible. His sat just off center on the rough wooden planks of the park bench. The plant life was clearly gripped in the colorful hands of early fall. Every tree was slowly turning into a shade of their choosing. Some of them were red while other seemed to be happy in yellow. A few early departing leaves scattered the ground, traveling on the chill wind that blew across his back. Everyone passing by had their eyes bouncing from one tinted display to the other, but while everyone else was looking up, he simply gazed down at the grass.

    The ground outside the set path was a mix of two colors: the brown of the dying blades mixed randomly with the green of the stubborn survivors. He didn’t focus on one or the other, but just stared in thought. He didn’t feel too worried about sitting where he was. He felt like he would see trouble coming at him with all the open space. He was hoping he could relax and spend the day without anything unnecessary happening. But what he didn’t realize was that putting him self in the open not only meant he would see trouble, but trouble was going to find him a lot easier.

    “Hey, Mitchell. I though I’d find you here.” The blankly staring eyes drifted up and to the left to behold a short, dark haired woman with a smile on her face and a light jacket around her shoulders. He didn’t move or say anything at first. Maybe he was hoping she would leave like he had hoped Kelly would. But that was clearly asking a little too much.

    He stood up and looked down at the woman who was about half a head shorter than himself and probably a little bit younger. He took a moment to hope for something at least a little less painful than a date before he spoke. “Came looking for me?”

    The woman just shook her head and put her hands in the pockets of her dark green jacket, its synthetic material zipped up against the chill. “Nope, just out for a walk. But I still expected to find you here. I mean, you’re here a lot so…” She trailed off expecting him to know the rest of the sentence. He only nodded to indicate he understood. She smiled at his reaction then looked around before turning to the left and jerking her head in the direction the paved path took. “Come on. Let’s take a walk.” She took up the left side the path, her black hair catching a gust of wind to lift from her shoulders and dance happily in the breeze. It was an invitation to accompany her at her right side that she fully expected him to take.

    At least she wasn’t quite like the woman he had to deal with. He contented himself with that and joined her on the walk, letting her match his pace with her shorter pair of legs.

    “So how’d it go at Ted’s last night?” She asked with a calm interest. Her head turned from the path to address the man but her gaze could not linger. She wouldn’t want her feet to stray beyond the path.

    It never seemed to end. One way or another he was forced to deal with his situation head on. It was only all the practice that kept him from screwing up. “Alright. I woke up on the couch with my stuff still there, so I’m happy.”

    She laughed at his vague jest. That little generic statement was enough to keep him out of trouble. “Good. I’m glad you still have your stuff, too.” She looked up at his grim expression with a warm, genuine smile. But in the face of his dark visage she hesitated. Her smile dimmed and worry flashed in her eyes. “Is something wrong? You seem kind of down.”

    He cursed himself for thinking this might not be as bad as Kelly. She was more astute and seemed to know Mitchell better. He tried to stay calm about it and simply shook his head. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

    The concerned woman stopped in her tracks, letting him take two more steps before he realized and turned around to face her. The look on her face was one that showed how observant she was. She seemed even more worried and her eyes clearly saw through his easy lie. “I can tell there’s something on your mind. Now you’ve always been able to talk to me so tell me what it is. You know it’s better if you tell me about it.”

    How persistent she was. This wasn’t good. She sounded as if she wasn’t going to give up until she got an answer, but the problem was his mind was freezing up. He couldn’t find one of those easy excuses he was so used to spouting at the slightest provocation. Why was he having these problems? Sure she seemed like a nice girl, and that look in her eyes was one he hadn’t seen in a while, but that was no reason to ruin everything. He scrambled and quickly snatched onto the first excuse he could create. “I’m just not feeling well.”

    Now she was shaking her head at him. She had seen through it again. There was no escaping it. This little nuisance was not going to quit. She wanted an answer, and she wasn’t going to settle for a lie. He didn’t know what she had to go through to be able to pick out lies like that, but she was causing him a great deal of stress. “I don’t understand why you don’t want to tell me. You’ve told me almost everything else. Just tell me what’s wrong. No one’s around. I promise I won’t judge.” She lifted her right hand from her jacket pocket and held it up in the air as if to pledge an oath.

    It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to tell her. He knew what would happen if he told her anything. But all the same he felt like he should say something, even if he wasn’t going to be able to lie to her. He couldn’t tell her the truth. There was no way he was going to tell her the truth, at least not the whole truth.

    He looked around at the plant life for a moment then brought his eyes back to her. Her hand fell back down and she placed it into her pocket. The answer she wanted was on his lips and she could see it; her respectful silence told him that. Tentatively he began, trying to find the words he could use. “What if…”


    The day was growing old. The bright light of the noon day sun was beginning to dim into the shades and hues of an old sunset. His eyes were turned skyward, straight up so as not to catch the westward angled sun. A strong wind tugged at the edges of his shirt: the same wind that scooted the clouds along the blue expanse. Each little puff sailed by as if it had an important schedule to keep. But he only frowned up at these commuting clouds, wondering what he had wanted to achieve in the first place.

    He really shouldn’t have expected anything new in the first place. He had given that woman a simple rhetorical situation, an innocent question that wouldn’t give him away. And all he got in return was an answer he already had. It might have been different if she knew the finer details of his situation, but that would only obstruct the innocent truth of her response. In the end he knew the consequences of talking too much. His past would have to remain a story that only he kept.

    How long had it been, exactly? Too long to count. He couldn’t recall the first time, nor the second time, or the third. They were all lost to the incessant pull of what had become his fate. It wasn’t the same for him, and it hadn’t been since before that time he couldn’t quite remember. Sure it had been a shock at first, but now it was just his way of life.

    Each night he went to bed the man he had awoken as. Sleep would come, time would pass, and he would wake. He never seemed to dream any more. It was just a black expanse between dusk and dawn. But when that dawn came, and he rose from that pit, and was no longer the man of yesterday. Every day was spent in the shoes of a stranger, and he had grown tired of it quickly.

    To some it might seem fantastic to always awaken to something new. But he was confronted with the grim truth. Each life he saw was one that had no direction. Each life seemed to be aimlessly shuffling along in search of the next escape from boredom. A thousand dull existences, a thousand pointless lives, and a thousand empty shells had taken away the one thing that kept them all alive. He no longer had hope. He no longer held onto those silly notions. Life was dull and boring.

    Each of those lives had chipped away at his consciousness in minute portions. The memories of each day filled his head and pushed the old memories out. He couldn’t remember all the lives. He couldn’t remember his own. He couldn’t even remember his name. The only thing left to him was the only thing he couldn’t leave behind, his mind. He was alone in this transient life.

    But there was one thing. That woman and the answer she had given him, there was something to it. It was true that he had only gotten an answer he already had, but it was also an answer he had tossed away long ago because he couldn’t stand it. He had posed his question, and with the eyes of one who still held hope she answered. “If you don’t like the situation your in, then there is always a way out. You always have a choice.”

    “A choice,” He whispered to the wind. She was right. He may not have hope, but he still had a choice, no matter how hard it was to make. He gave that girl’s answer some thought, and quickly came up with his decision. His choice was made. He wasn’t going to suffer any more.

    The concrete wall made a gritty, scraping noise as the soles of his shoes mounted its narrow surface. A breeze gusted around him as he took his perch, never taking his eyes off the evening sky. There was no reason to look down. He knew what was there; a few feet behind him and several stories in front of him. The clouds zoomed by over head, indifferent of what was transpiring below. This was the end of his suffering. He was taking his way out. He breathed one more breath of the fresh air and let his feet slip off the side.

    Suddenly the wind took a ferocious change and began ripping at his clothes and hair. It seemed to be angrily pushing him back as he gathered speed. Everything was starting to move so fast. Windows zipped by with little notice, and loud screams could be heard below him. It was all very strange, and he began to feel something odd. His heart was beating faster, and there was a tension in his chest. This was something he hadn’t felt in a long time. It seemed familiar in a way, but distantly. What was it they called this feeling?

    Oh yes…it was called excitement.

    Suddenly this life didn’t feel so bland. There was more to this life now than there was in all of the lives past. His breath was beginning to shorten and the side of his face felt wet. People were crowding around him as he lay on the ground, but he took little notice of them. Instead, he just felt good. A simple, child like smile graced his face with a look of joy. His eyes stared blankly out at the slowly fading world and he felt glad that he could feel excited once more.