There was darkness all around. The faintest patch of light slipped through the blinds and hit him right in the eye. He tried to ignore it. He turned over.
Rooms away, he could hear the purposeful trudging of his parents readying themselves for another work day.
That meant he had almost no time left. Futilely, he wished for more time. He just wanted to sleep.
That was half true. He wanted to sleep in because he had quietly passed far into the night chatting with friends, gaming, trying to put together beats and rhymes, before he had to force himself to go to sleep. It didn’t go well. He laid there thinking about all the things he couldn’t do, all the things he loved doing but had to put off so he could drag his ass back to that joke of a school.
He turned over quickly and pulled the pillow onto his face. It blocked the darkness and spread hot air all around his face as he tried to calm himself down so he could grab a few more minutes of sleep. For a moment he kept his hands on the pillow and smirked to himself. He couldn’t help but think of being smothered with the pillow over his face as it was now. He had heard it was a nasty way to go. One of those crime shows mentioned something about the inside of your gums tearing as you tried to fight off the person killing you as you lay in bed. He shuddered at the thought for just a moment then he thought of how tired he was going to be.
He took some deep breaths and lay very still, the pillow still covering his face.
The alarm sounded.
“Damn it! Did I even sleep anymore?” He rolled over to grab his phone. He turned off the full set of alarms and sat for another minute, just barely keeping from falling back into the warm bed.
Rapid taps to his door made him grimace. Mom had silently slipped up the stairs. Her polished nails may as well have raked across a chalkboard. That faux gentle tap dancing made his skin crawl. Why the hell was she always so subdued. He’d rather she just yell one of these days for him to move his ass.
“Honey? Remember, your brother can’t be late for-“
“I’m up!” He coughed, his throat full of morning phlegm. “I’m almost ready. Down in a few.”
He rushed to get ready. He had forgotten about the earlier drop off time.
He squeezed into his shirt and pants. It was time to go shopping again. At least it was cold and a jacket could hide a lot. Not enough to get a girlfriend or avoid jabs from jerks and buddies alike, but at least he felt better about the way he looked.
Looking out the window, he could see all the people streaming towards the school. Buses and cars spitting kids out onto sidewalks and streets. They looked like ants marching back into their colony, except they didn’t have anything to bring back to the queen. They came back just as empty-handed as when they left. And there was no guarantee of safety waiting for them there.
Ants are productive, they go out and work to bring food for the rest of the colony, for the queen so she can make more ants. Ants work to sustain themselves, to care for each other and their continued existence for their entire lives. Raised by ants assigned to the nursery, fed by the ones that foraged, housed by the diggers and builders and all overseen and directed by the queen, who would one day tell one of those little baby ants what job it would have; what it would die doing. And what do they do when one ant dies, eat them, bury them, use them for construction materials? Ants must die all the time, dozens or hundreds every day, just from old age. The colony keeps going, keeps moving, living. The dead are probably just ignored and trampled into dust. No tears or loss, just one less mouth to feed. Is the queen relieved when they drop dead or does she even notice? She’s likely too busy making more ants and seeing that they grow up to fit into their role in the ant making machine she sits on top of. Just like all these kids being thrown out into the cold. Just like me. And for what? To grow up to be a good ant? To fit into the colony, just another part of the machine, to make more ants? And what good are ants? We poison them, crush them and kill them whenever we see them. What’s the point of them?
The Next Part of Numbered Days [SOON]
Audio commentary on the making of Numbered Days Day One