red lanterns everywhere

Ten in the morning. Rewind to last night.

It felt odd driving to work after being away since Tuesday morning. Going there should be familiar and maybe slightly comforting, but I keep waiting for the day when I won't return. When that day will come has yet to be seen and I fear that it won't be soon. Still I hope and wait. Things change or so they say.

I parked in my usual weekend spot, which would be as close to the front door as possible. Winter winds were blowing and Orion was high in the sky. I didn't linger outside long. It would be warm inside and they were probably waiting for me.

Soon I was inside and the second shift crew were eagerly discussing something, what I don't know. We exchanged a few stories as I searched online for some more Chinese paper lanterns. Other decorating suggestions were given as we stumbled across solid wood furniture costing thousands of dollars, but every cent.

Three hours went by and I was alone.

It wasn't until three in the morning that I started to feel like myself again. Some nights it takes less time to adjust, but the first night is always the hardest. The job isn't difficult, but it isn't something that I enjoy either. It serves a purpose and I do what is required of me in a detached fashion. There isn't anything there to get passionate about anyway.

Quarter after three and I head upstairs for lunch and maybe a quasi nap. As I round the corner I hear something behind me and pause for a moment. I turn and see Nicole leaving the bathroom and making her way back downstairs. I say hi to her. She waves as she continues down the stairs.

Four thirty I stop by to talk with Nicole. I tell that she seems just as sad as she did when I last spoke with her on Tuesday. This time her boss wasn't around to antagonize her so I wondered what was bothering her. She said that she was bored and that was my cue to cheer her up.

I took her in my arms, held her close, told her that she was beautiful and kissed her on the cheek. Some might call it a ritual between us, but it almost always works. I know that it makes me feel good and most of the time it works on her as well.

I never linger too long, but I wouldn't mind holding her longer if I could.

Soon a half hour had passed and my lunch was long over. I said that I would be back later in the morning to say goodbye and chat some more with her.

Eight in the morning and I'm by Nicole again. This time she's a little more withdrawn, sleepy and wanting to go home.

I tell her that I am going to go to New Zealand and that I am not going to come back. Once I'm there I'll gain an accent and earn money by working on a farm.

She looks at me as only she can and says that won't happen.


Seven songs on Placebo's album Without You I'm Nothing provided the soundtrack as I put my groceries away and made my after work meal. I hesitate to call it breakfast since for me it's probably closer to supper. Once I had eaten and brushed my teeth, I was ready to sleep. I slipped off my jeans, grabbed two blankets and laid down on the couch. Five hours passed until I opened my eyes again.

When I woke I was disappointed to see that there was nothing exciting in the mail. Oh, I got a new letter from my alma mater, but I didn't recognize any of the people mentioned in it so for me it was just another piece of junk mail. What I had been expecting in the mail was some movies that I had ordered.

Having sifted through the mail I went online to read email and downloaded some more Aimee Mann songs. Apparently in the bunch I picked a good one, because seventeen other people grabbed it from me once it was on my hard drive.

There was another meal, a shave and shower, and then I settled down to watch some television. The Shawshank Redemption was on one of the local channels and that carried me through the night until I had to leave for work. I remember when I first heard about the movie and had my doubts because Stephen King had written the original story. Then when I saw it I knew that I had spoken too soon. Something about Tim and Morgan in the film transcends what most people in the world do. They didn't accept fate.

Today had to be one the best days that I've had in a while and I think that part of that had to do with Nicole.

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