December sweeps her dead hand around my throat. My capuche swooshes open and I come to life in the morning hour rush. A beggar scratches the furrows between the cobblestones outside the metro station. When I get close to him, the automatic doors open and the warm breath of the subway hits me. He looks up at me, then back down again to the cobblestones.
I walk out on to the escalator, a boy runs past me, then a girl, then another boy. The latter boy shoves the girl when he rushes by her, down the escalator. She yells, but keeps going. Yesterday the fungus to the right was green, but today it’s covered in white foam.
The subway train comes in and I get on. It’s full, so I stand. I can always tell which state the country is in by looking at the adverts. Education, insurances, job seminars and cheap groceries. I’m reminded of what the prime minister said; the lowest unemployment rate in Europe by 2020.
Promises aren’t worth much to the poor. That’s why the adverts look the way they do, and why the beggar scratches the furrows of the cobblestone.
The youth unemployment is either 25 % according to the government or 35 % if you ask the opposition. When the opposition was in power they told a different story. It seems the parties only take turns, both in governing and in using different statistics. The figures have been constant for the past twenty-five years and if there’s one thing history will teach us, it is that they won’t agree on 30% youth unemployment. I know I’m part of the problem. My generation and I. We are too many and take up someone else’s seat. I never sit on the subway train. They have reserved seats for me, but I prefer to stand. That’s a drop in the ocean. That’s not contributing anything. It’s literally nothing. I’ll just keep doing what I do as long as my memory is fine. I’ll keep being a fungus on society until someone comes along and sprays me with white foam.
Beside me I have a cup of coffee. I won the cup by answering Ulan Bator as the capital of Mongolia for the final question of the office trivia. They laughed of course.
“You probably know all the capitals in the world, right?“
“No”, I replied, “just the ones I have seen on a map.”
“If I tell you a secret, would you remember it thirty years later?”
“No. Not hearing. Only seeing.”
I like to burn myself, just a little, by sipping on the coffee too early. The liquid slides from the back of my tongue down my throat. I can taste the bitter blackness. When I retire they will cut my position. A computer can do it better. Once upon a time I was indispensable. What ten employees needed binders for, I kept in my head. Then computers came. I’m obsolete. They keep paying me, as a benefit I guess, and I keep coming in for work, every day at 8 AM.
I was a good husband. I was there, I helped raise our two daughters and I was faithful. But that’s not being a good husband, that’s just being a husband. No I was a good husband because I remembered what mattered to her. I noticed her. I remembered every small measure she took to look nice, every important step in her life or in our daughters’ lives. When her mind went soft, I remembered if she had taken her pills or not. I remember her face as she lay in the hospital bed, in and out of consciousness. The look of goodbye in my daughters’ faces. I remember it so well. But I can’t for the life of me remember her last words to me.
banner Image:- By Ingo2802 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons