He was going on an adventure he didn’t want in a place he never dreamed he would be.
As he boarded the plane, he took one last longing glance at the airport through the loading tunnel’s window. Did he have to go? He had never gone more than a town away from home and he had never planned to. He was happy at his 9-5 job. He was happy with his weekend routine. He was happy to find a wife somewhere, settle down in his nice little house, and quietly raise a family all while going to work 9-5 every single day.
He was not ready. He knew he wasn’t ready. But he was being sent away anyway. He worked as a humble number pusher at a large firm in his town. They never asked much of him except to help plan the occasional birthday party. Now, because he was the most consistent employee in the whole company, he was being sent away to a conference to speak on his company’s behalf and try to gain some interest. Recently their employee numbers had dropped drastically with people quitting for newer and more exciting jobs. He was just happy to be in his little white cubicle, typing on his little white computer, in his little white chair, in the large white room with fifty other little white cubicles with little white computers and employees in little white chairs just typing away.
He boarded the plane. His head filled with bitter thoughts. He stared out the window the whole three hour flight to New York. When they arrived, he got up stiffly and robotically grabbed his carry on luggage then went to pick up his larger suitcase from the baggage area. He then rolled his suitcase out to the curb and hailed a taxi. Or at least he tried to.
Yellow metal vehicles zoomed by him. One ran through a puddle and splashed the bottom of his pants. He frowned in disdain, his automatic mind already calculating how to best clean the new stain before the speech time tonight. He stood there on the curb looking nothing out of the absolute ordinary with his unassuming hand in the air and he waited. He waited more. He waited even more. After about three hours he finally had enough. He took a deep breath and stepped off the curb to stand in front of an oncoming taxi with his hand in the air. The taxi came to a screeching halt and the taxi driver peeked out at him from the window.
He showed the small chubby man his hotel information and the man nodded.
He got in and sat perfectly still the whole way. He did not try to talk to the driver and the driver did not try to talk to him. He got to his destination, handed the driver the money needed plus the customary tip and then walked mechanically inside the hotel. He was immediately greeted by people of all shapes and sizes who tried to shake his hand, welcome him, take his bags, and help him to his room. He immediately felt overwhelmed and held onto his bags for dear life. Eventually a kind eyed woman stepped up and gently took the bags from his hands. She reassured him they would be to his room in fifteen minutes or less and then directed him where to go to find his room, handing him the key.
He took one more longing glance at his bags then relinquished his quiet control and headed to the room like he was instructed. When he got there, he breathed a sigh of relief that the room was white with a white bed, white couch, white bathroom, and a white little desk with a white little lamp.
He sat on the bed and patted it exactly four times for good measure then laid down and stared at the ceiling. He glanced to his wrist watch then back to the ceiling. He had ten minutes before the fifteen minute mark and he dearly hoped she would not be late. His attention focused back to his pant legs and he went into the bathroom, took his pants off, then stood in his underwear meticulously scrubbing away the stain with sink water and hand soap.
A few minutes later there was a knock at the door, and he went to answer it. When he opened the door the woman gasped and looked away from him, thrusting his carry-on bag at him and holding it there for him to take. He looked at her in confusion, then looked down and blushed a crimson red color that disrupted the stark white of his skin. He quickly took the bag and his larger one from her, thanked her, and shut the door without bothering with an explanation. He took exactly four steps into the room before uttering a small gasp, turning on his heel, and sliding a tip underneath the door. He thanked her for being on time through the door and wished her a good day before he went to finish washing and drying his pants.
Later, he sat in the cold auditorium room with his hair combed perfectly neat, his tie a perfect length, and his shoes double shined for this event. If he was going to be forced to come here, he was going to do it with quiet dignity and with as much regular routine as he could muster in the new environment. When it was his turn to talk, he walked slowly up to the mic and coughed to check it before he began his speech. He talked about what a wonderful company his was to work for. He talked about his love for punching in numbers. He talked about his love for his routine and his 9-5 schedule. At the end of the speech a man raised his hand and he nodded to him.
“That doesn’t sound very exciting.” It was a statement rather than a question.
“I’m sorry you feel that way.” Came the calculated response.
“What would we gain from working at a boring job?” The man pressed for a detailed retort.
“You would have the benefit of security knowing where your next paycheck was coming from. Exactly what was expected of you. You would have the opportunity to advance if you wanted within the company, though I am happy where I am at. You would have the safety of only 10 days’ vacation time a year that you did not have to take.” He answered as best he could.
He could not see what the issue might be with staying where you are at and diligently working a job that one could count on. Meanwhile, the man who had asked the question blinked in dumbfounded confusion.
“What is so exciting about that?” Came a second question and the third sentence from the man’s ddddddouth.
He stood there and blinked with the microphone raised to his mouth. He wasn’t sure what to say or how to reply to such an odd request. It didn’t compute in his calculated and mechanical brain. He felt as if smoke was coming from out his ears. He was fried. After a few moments of pregnant silence he swallowed a dry lump that had suddenly occupied his mouth, shifted exactly four times in place, raised the microphone to his lips and simply stated,
Then after a few moments silence.
“No more questions.”
He walked down from the stage to a chorus of confused and disjointed applause and straight to the elevator to go to his room. His head was reeling from the response he got. Who in their right mind would want anything less than what his job offered him? Complete and total security. A nice paycheck. A place to go to every week day. It was crazy that they did not feel the same.
He laid on his white bed staring at the white ceiling, but sleep did not come for him. Instead his mind reeled for the first time in his perfect little life. The next morning he groggily answered a knock at his white hotel door.
“Good morning!! Ready to go on your excursion?” A happy slim woman asked him. She was dressed for a boat.
He blinked in confusion and just stared at her. She waited for a few seconds before explaining further, “Your company booked you an excursion on a genuine ship! We leave in five minutes and will be gone all day. Weather permitting, we will spend the night on the sea and come back in the morning!” She chirped happily.
It didn’t compute. He didn’t want to go. He wasn’t told of this. He explained all of this to her and she shoved a piece of paper in his face with his name and his company as the one who paid the bill. He slowly gathered his things hoping that she would leave without him. When he went downstairs fifteen minutes later, he found that they had happily waited for him. He sighed in malcontent before boarding the bus to take them to the docks. The ride was pretty enough, but he could not get over the fact that he had planned to get some work done today on his little white laptop at the little white desk in his room. He hadn’t understood why he was staying for three days when the speech was only one night. Now he knew. He sighed heavily and stared unmoving out of the window.
When they got to the dock he looked up at the biggest ship he had ever seen. It was a traditional build, not a modern ship, with a mast, sails, and an old fashioned wheel to steer. He could not help but get a little excited. He loved nautical things. He felt a quickened pace in his step as he got closer to the boat.
“Now we want you all to enjoy yourselves but there are a few rules…” the lady was droning on.
He found himself peering around people in the crowd of his group to stare at the giant sails on the ship. They were white! He hurried onto the boat and set his things down in the crew cabin under deck. They would be sleeping in hammocks instead of on beds. He stared curiously before simply throwing his luggage in a hammock at the very back of the room that looked the closest to the color white he could find. He was a little downtrodden they didn’t match the brilliant white of the sails.
They milled around below deck until it was time to leave and then he stood in a crowd of strangers watching the coastline slowly disappear. He hadn’t felt this exhilarated in years and he worried a little bit for his health. The night was passed with mind boggling ship trivia and lovely discussions among the crew. He, on the other hand, spent the night sitting within perfect view of those white sails and the horizon of the sea. He even let his hair blow about in the wind without trying to comb it. This was heavenly.
He was the first to see the storm.
On the horizon what looked like nightfall was really heavy rain coming from a thick dark cloud looming overhead. He stood up in rapt attention and alerted the nice woman who had been taking care of them and she excused herself before walking a few steps away and rapidly whispering into a walkie-talkie. He hadn’t missed her shocked and worried expression. As he watched the storm, he saw it slowly start to rotate. Then faster and faster. They were headed for a cyclone! He ran down the steps and warned the rest of the crew before running back up and simply staring at it. He could not turn his eyes away from chaos. He could not lose sight of the most massively destructive thing he had ever encountered.
A few minutes later it was upon them. The rain tore at the sails, the wind tugged on the mast, the waves rocked the boat as if they had been uninvited and wanted to crash the party. One by one the planks began to splinter. The frightened screams of his crewmates filled his ears as he held onto the mast with one thought crossing his mind: the storm was the farthest from the color white you could imagine.
In the morning he woke up adrift on a piece of the ship. Floating all around him were pieces of the boat and he didn’t see another soul in sight. He looked around him to take inventory and noticed he was on a rather large piece with some sticking up that he could scrunch into for shade. He grabbed out of the water a little white piece of net, and a little white piece of the sail. He structured himself to begin the modes of survival he had seen in every movie he had forced his calculated brain to watch. He knew there was no calling for help. He was alone at sea.
He was going on an adventure he didn’t want in a place he never dreamed he would be.
#story #shortstory #novella #writer #writing #white #routine #boring #exciting #storm #company #speech #amwriting #author
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