• Flux Magazine

"Crushed" by Emma Landry

Yesterday it was the car, today it’s the hot water. Why can’t she catch a break? Everything around her is slowly shattering into tiny shards against the linoleum floor of the public restroom she escaped to for a breath. The papers are stacking up at work, and it just seems like there isn’t possibly enough time in the world to get everything done, yet she crumbles to the bathroom floor and sets her forehead against her knees.

She brushes it off, though. She stands up and returns to her desk and continues the project she was working on. It seems useless. There’s no way she’ll be able to finish it, yet she continues to push through. Just as she’s starting to feel confident in her ability to finish on time, the power shuts off, taking with it all of her hard work. She tries to control her breathing, reminding herself that there’s a chance it was saved. The lights flicker on, she turns the computer on, and stares emotionless at the blank document in front of her. Realizing there’s no way she can make up all of the days’ work in less than an hour, she picks up her bag and heads home. What’s done is done, and she can’t fix it. 

She turns on the shower, trying to wash away all the feelings of failure, before realizing that the hot water still isn’t fixed. Frustrated, she shuts the water off and changes into some pajamas. If she can’t be warm and clean, at least she can be comfy. She sits down on the couch and idly scrolls through channels until she finds something to watch. She finally settles on a show only to be met with an error message, indicating that she has forgotten to pay the cable bill for the month. 

She’s heard the phrase “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” but, wow, is she experiencing just what that really means. She considers making dinner, or even just ordering a pizza, but it seems any luck she may have had has run out and it would be in her best interest to stop and just go to bed. 

She stares up at the ceiling, thoughts of self-pity running through her mind. Why does everything always seem to pile up in one day? Why couldn’t it have spaced itself out a little? Just enough to make it bearable, she begs. She reminds herself it’s just a day, but it’s not. She knows that, and everyone she’s close to knows that. Her luck has always been nonexistent; this is nothing new. She should expect it, at this point.

Her thoughts spiral until she hears a sound coming from the kitchen. She debates whether or not she should get up. She’s already hoping the world would swallow her whole. So she decides to just go check it out. If it’s a burglar and it’s her time, so be it, she thinks. She walks out of her bedroom, tiptoeing into the kitchen. She looks around and sees nothing but black. Unsettled by the silence, she flips on a light to take one last look around. Noticing the blinds lightly swaying, she closes the window and credits the wind with creating the clanking sound she heard. She must have left it open.

Crawling back in bed with a sigh, she looks out the window and up at the sky. When she was little, she used to make up constellations, but she doesn’t do that anymore. The Big Dipper is apparent and bright, but that’s the only constellation she knows. She stares a little longer, hoping some kind of greater being can explain why she keeps having days like these where nothing can go right. Yesterday was the same, and so were a couple of days last week. The positive attitude she’s trying to force herself to have is slowly fading. If she could have just one win it would be easier to see the glass as half full, but right now it looks half empty. 

Realizing that the answers are, unfortunately, not written in the stars, she turns her back to the window and stars at the conveniently-placed, half-empty glass of water on her nightstand. She takes a sip and sighs as she sets it back down. Twisting and turning to get comfortable, she decides it’s time for bed. 

She’s just about to close her eyes when the floor dips next to her and a loud creaking sound hangs in the air. 

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