Floor cleaner. It reeks of floor cleaner as he sits on his knees and scrubs at the tiles. This spot just won’t go away. The music playing in his headphones is utterly useless at this point, all he can think about is the way the cleaner seeps into his gloves and burns the cracked knuckles of his hands. The light above him is steady, but not at all bright. To an untrained eye, you would miss a spot or two due to the lack of light. Yet he doesn’t hold an untrained eye, nor an untrained hand.
The spot lifts from the tile and he sits back wiping his forehead with the back of his arm. He stands up, taking his gloves off and his headphones from his ears while making his way across the room to his bag. It’s awfully cold. He smiles and puts his belongings in his bag. He stops for a moment, taking notice of the deep red blotch on the ceiling, steadily dripping just below his feet. This isn’t good. He goes to retrieve the cleaner once again, but something isn’t right. A fluorescent light slightly peaks through the window to his left, and it’s only beginning to get brighter. No this isn’t good. He shoves the cleaner back in the bag and scurries to the back door, checking behind him before he exits. The path to the car is clear, planned extensively, he has no trouble getting in the vehicle and pulling out of the parking lot onto the road. Lights are sparse in this area, it’s not commonly traveled unless you’re very familiar with the place, he knows this.
The river approaches quickly along the horizon, his first destination. Pulling over, he quickly takes the bag off of the passengers side and throws it. It sinks quickly. Quickly enough for him to get back in the car and pull away before the ripples on the water’s surface fade away. He sits in silence as he drives. Nothing in his mind, nothing but the last memories of that thing’s face as the color drained from its skin. The corners of his mouth can’t help but form a smile, a genuine smile, that of a child on Christmas morning. Yes, this is his Christmas morning once again. Tunnel vision as he drives along the desolate street, desolate besides the eventual rows of shops that begin to appear. Hair salon, flower shop, hair salon, Cafe. Cafe, bank, apartments. Same routine as always:
Enter through the laundry room
Change your clothes
Try to wipe the boyish grin off of your face before anyone sees you
Nothing he hasn’t done before, nothing he’s afraid to do again. Quietly he moves up the stairs. With each step the floor lets out a moan, he curses himself for choosing the cheapest apartment in the area. One, two, three. Third floor, third door to the right. Easy enough to remember when you’re in a fit of feverish glee. The door opens to a silent apartment. Always the same, always the same. The sentence repeats in his head as he follows through his mundane routine.
Like a businessman, or a professor or another sad sack of flesh, he thought, yes, yes I’m just like them. I’m like them except I actually make a difference in this world! Who are they without me? The mirror looks back at him, he looks back at him and once again it’s December 25th. “Who are they without me?” He moves across the hall where she is sleeping. She, not she, it’s Valerie. Valerie is sleeping and she is the gift he truly wanted. His brand new bmx bike, his Barbie Dream House, his Gameboy, it’s her. He lays down gently on the bed, careful as to not disturb her. He closes his eyes and begins to drift until red fills his vision once again, drip, drip, drip. Eyes open, then close then open again. He thinks:
I have made myself out to be a fool. I’m no fool, I’m not like them, I can’t be like them. This isn’t fair, it’s not my fault. All the while he lays silently, never moving a muscle keeping his breath steady and his eyes focused on the ceiling. His thoughts begin to mold, It’s all his fault, his existence, his legacy he deserved it and yet I still came in last! Christmas doesn’t last forever and he knows it, he knows the day ends but it never feels exactly like this. Santa isn’t real, he never eats the cookies blah blah blah.
Enough. His thoughts go blank. Tomorrow. I’ll make up for it tomorrow.