What I do
Filed Under: Short Stories
Date Created:06 Jan 2017
Last Modified:24 Jan 2017
Number of Views: 725
A Short Story
It was a day like any other day. I woke up. I switched on my computer. I checked my emails. I cleared my Facebook notifications. Nothing new. Nothing off. It promised to be just an ordinary day.
An ordinary day for me meant wondering how I was going to turn my online business into one that made money for me, and not one that consumed all my money; wondering how I was going to ever make money out of my writing. It meant wondering if I was ever going to get paid on time--on time enough to pay my bills and rentals.
It seemed I was just located in the wrong part of the world. Other people I read about online made thousands of dollars from doing what I did: they ran a blog, posted one or two articles and bang, money. They wrote books and sold millions of copies and became millionaires. They made applications that people actually used(which applications to be fair were not really cooler than mine) and made millions.
But not me. Nothing I ever did seemed to work; and what did I not do? I created websites. I developed applications. I wrote stories. I wrote books. I even kept a blog.
No one wanted websites, and if they ever did, they wanted them for free.
No one ever downloaded my apps, and if they did, they were so few I could count them with my fingers.
No one ever read my stories, although to be fair, the few that did claimed I was a very good writer.
And absolutely no one bought my books, and the ones who did never read them.
No one visited my blog; and the few that did could fit in my sitting room with plenty of space to spare.
Hence begged the question: what was I doing wrong?
The most probable cause was that I stayed in Zambia. Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. That will immediately explain my predicament, right? Not really.
Even in my country, people were making it big everyday and everywhere. Poets and writers were all over social media, showcasing their success; developers flaunting their apps and getting pretty decent downloads. Entrepreneurs winning competitions and making it big. Almost everyone else out there was getting noticed, making money and appreciated except me.
It was all too surreal. At first, I almost thought that I had been cursed by one of my ancestors--that I belonged to a cursed generation: one that would never see success no matter what they did.
I was burnt out; I was tired. And so naturally, I gave up. I gave up trying to make it big. It seemed my fate had been set in stone. I was never going to change it no matter what I did.
So I took up the routine that normal people do--and by normal, I mean those that have given up trying to excel and make it big. I got a day job and began to survive--one day at a time.
I bathed. I made myself some breakfast--a bow of cereal mixed with milk. I ate in silence, staring at the empty space in front of me, my mind blank and empty. Some of the cereal was dripping down the sides of my mouth, but I did not care to wipe it. It would make no difference anyway. I was still going to be broke and ordinary, even with a clean mouth.
I worked as a clerk at an accounting firm. I had tried to get a job as a software developer or something IT; but I had not found any. And so, instead of being jobless and ending up staying with my parents forever, I decided to get the job. I found an apartment and bid my parents farewell.
And here I was, on the 6th day of January, scurrying to work. I was late. I wish I had enough money to get a taxi, but I could only afford the bus fare. I dashed to the bus station and sighed with relief when I found a bus. It was almost full: they were only waiting for one person and I just happened to be that person. I squeezed myself in and the bus started off.
"How are you?" the guy next to me greeted.
I was startled at first. Strangers never greeted me and I never cared to greet them. That is the way things were. But this stranger was greeting me and smiling at me as if he knew me.
"Hello," I said, wrinkling a brow, my expression asking if I knew him. I was poor at recalling people. A good number of people often stopped me in town, calling me by name. It was embarrassing to have to ask them what their name was; so I would just play along and pretend I remembered them.
"My name is Joshua," he said stretching out his hand. I reluctantly shook it. He was strong and full of energy, Joshua. He shook me quite a bit.
"Clement," I said in small voice.
"I already know you," he said. "I am a fan of yours."
"Fan? I am not following."
"Your stories? Clementstories website? I read your stories. They are quite good."
I gaped at him. "For real? You read my stories?"
"Yep. I have read each and every one of them."
"All of them?" I was now goggling at him.
"Which one is your favourite?" I asked suspiciously. I had met people like him who claimed to read my stories. But when I asked them which one was their favourite, they went mute.
"A Perfect Day."
"Wow, okay... that is one of my best." I smiled broadly.
"Yes, it is. It is just lovely."
"I haven't seen any new story in a while now. You stopped writing?"
"Not really," I sighed. "I just need to survive... you know. I got a job. It keeps me busy."
"It's not like I can make a living out of writing stories."
He snorted; almost as if I had said something wrong.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Making a living, maybe; but you don't have to stop living."
"What do you mean?"
"Everyone has something they do which makes them feel alive. For me, it is music. I am a musician. If I don't do any music, I feel all weird and wrong deep down. I feel dead, bro. So I sing, not to make a living, but to live. If I make any money out of it, then that's cool. But money or no money, I have to sing, see."
I was gaping at him again. "I see. Wow, I never thought of it like that."
"Considering how good a writer you are, you write to live. I can feel it in your words: they are so charged with emotion, and life. The moment you start writing to make money, you are going to lose it man. You are going to die."
"Wow," I was speechless. I could only smile.
The bus came to a halt, and my neighbour got up to leave. "I gotta fly now. See you later, bro; and I hope to read more of your stuff."
"See you!" I said, smiling and feeling good. He had lit something deep inside me; something that had died. It was now alive, and beating.
I was ten minutes late. I literally flew into the building. I landed at my desk, panting. No sooner had I sat down than my boss arrived; her brows wrinkled into an angry, menacing expression.
"Clement, why are you late?"
I shot to my feet. "I am sorry, ma'am. I will never do it again."
"You haven't answered my question."
"Um... I... the bus got delayed by traffic." I said, staring at her shoes and silently wondering how she managed to keep her shoes so clean despite the mud outside. But I did not need to wonder. She had a car. Heck, she had everything. She had definitely made it big.
My boss was a slim young lady with a pretty face and alert eyes. Whenever she stared at me, it felt as if she was looking inside me. I always had to look elsewhere to avoid her penetrative gaze.
"Always start off early," she said, her voice softening into a smile.
I looked up in surprise. My boss never smiled. She always had a scowl on her face. She looked beautiful smiling.
"Get these invoices over to Mr. Patterson, will you? Tell him they are all okay. The VAT is okay," she said as she handed me an envelope, still smiling.
"Okay," I said slowly. "I will."
I watched her leave in bewilderment. Whatever had come over her, it was a good thing. I liked her smiling. I loved her smiling.
It was lunch time and I was preparing to dash out and grab a sharwarma. But first, I needed to visit the loo.
As I reached out to open the door, it flung open and in the door way, stood my boss. She frowned when she saw me and wiped her hands against her black, tight-fitting dress. My boss had a knack for wearing tight and short clothing. But it all looked okay on her. Maybe it was because she was slim.
"Sorry," I mumbled, looking at her shoes again.
Suddenly, I felt cold fingers grasp my chin and fling up my head. I found myself staring into my boss's white and penetrative eyes. I shuddered. I tried to look elsewhere but she turned my face to look at her.
"Clement," she said in a breathy voice. "I bet you are wondering to yourself: how did she make it? How did she get successful so young?"
I was confused. I was not actually wondering that. I was wondering why the heck she was grasping my chin and forcing me to stare into her face.
"Well," she continued undeterred. "I was just like you once. Young, foolish, and broke. I wanted to make it so bad that I was willing to do whatever it took to make it big.
"So, I read this flyer... about how to become rich; and win job interviews and what not. And so I visited the guy; and he gave me a portion and I took it.
"And my life changed. Everywhere I went, people liked me. Everywhere I went people where offering me jobs. And so I had the liberty to pick which one I wanted; and so I chose this one."
"Okay... I... see." I stammered.
"But; it's not that easy, Clement. This success of mine, it's superficial. I wish I had taken the time to work hard and really earn my success, even if it took years and years. I wish I could go back to being you. To start from the very bottom. To have a fresh start. You have no idea what you have, Clement."
I shook my head in confusion. No I did not. Where was she going with this?
"You see... there is one caveat about the portion I was given." She breathed in deeply and looked down at her crotch. "My womanly parts... they are gone. They were turned into manly parts. I have to wear really tight panties to hide them so that none of you find out. It's really uncomfortable I tell you."
I goggled at her in shock.
She slowly let go of my chin. I recoiled in horror, rubbing my chin and staring at her crotch area. It did look unusually big for a woman, come to think of it.
I stared at her face again and saw the glister of tears in her eyes. "Why... are you telling me?"
"Because I like you, Clement. I don't want you to do what I did. Don't take any short cuts. Work hard. Get tired. Get dirty. Until you make it. That' the only secret to success."
She turned and walked away quickly, her heels cluttering hauntingly down the corridor. I shook my head and stared at the toilet door, clearly labelled 'Men'.
"Why did she really tell me again?" I asked myself out loudly.
I began to chuckle as the realization dawned on me.
The world was round; and what went round came around. And what had gone wrong could at certain times be undone.
In my wild, crazy imaginations, I had written a story once, about a young woman whom a crazy witch had cast a spell on. She had turned her into a man. She traveled all over the world to find a cure. But the cure had always been with her, right under her nose: to confess her deepest, darkest, secret to the man she loved the most.
"It's okay, Amanda," I said out loudly. "I will rescue you. It is what I do."
All Rights Reserved to Michael Sinkolongo 2017
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