Playlist: A Short Story

6:32. I open my eyes slowly to the gaze of the red flashing numbers on the bedside clock. I was dreaming about something, I can’t remember… A few moments pass and then I pull myself out of bed. Toilet, wash-up, breakfast. I find my place in line. Someone I don’t know is staring at me. In every room, there’s a clock.

7:33. I go to work. The people beside me are not my co-workers. No one speaks, and no one listens. I go back and forth mechanically. One of my non-co-workers goes away without warning. I don’t know where she is going.

8:34. I go outside. The field is large and spacious and empty. I walk around it a few times, whistling to myself quietly. No one is there to hear me. But there is still a clock on the fence. I walk until I’m too tired to continue walking, and then I sit down in the grass. There must be a groundskeeper, but I have never seen them.

9:35. Back to work. It’s a busy life I live. One of my non-co-workers is asleep on the floor. The clock ticks rhythmically. In an empty room, the sound of a ticking clock can drive one crazy. A cat slips in through the doorway, stops there as if observing the proceedings, and then vanishes.

10:36. Free time. I go back into my room and stare at the numbers on the clock. Something about them intrigues me. I still can’t remember what I had been dreaming about. I lay back on my bed to rest, but my eyes won’t close.

11:37. I get up to go to the toilet. Someone I don’t know is washing their hands. They stand there scrubbing for much longer than twenty seconds, and they leave the tap on. When they finally leave I take their place. There are no more paper towels. In place of the mirror, the clock stares back at me. I hum under my breath, a long-forgotten melody from my dream.

12:00. “Happy Birthday” is playing. I go to lunch. It’s my friend’s birthday, and everyone is singing. We bring out a cake and have a great feast. The cat comes back and we offer it cake. My supervisor tells a joke, and I start to laugh.

Joe Hisaishi’s “First Love”. We go to clean up after our lunch. I’m in charge of putting away the decorations. I go in and out of the cafeteria, taking away the balloons and party streamers. As I walk I notice that every room has a speaker. The girl I have a crush on spots me and smiles, and I smile back at her.

X Japan’s “Say Anything”. Back to work again. The cat comes and lays near my feet while I work. My supervisor says she has a terrible headache and goes to take a nap. The girl I have a crush on stands next to me, and we start talking.

Yiruma’s “Reminiscent”. Free time. I go back to my room. Someone somewhere is playing the piano, and the speakers amplify it. I lay back on my bed, close my eyes, and drift off to sleep. There’s no need to count sheep anymore. When I wake up I remember what I was dreaming about.

SID’s “Otegami”. I sit at my desk and start to compose a letter to my parents. Outside my room, several friends are chatting. I listen to the sound of their voices as I write. The cat finds its way into my room and leaps onto my bed. I sketch a picture of it on the back side of my letter.

Brahms’ “Intermezzo in A, Op.118 No.2”. It’s the last work session of the day. My supervisor comes back, saying she feels better. We finish working early. A friend gives me a handknit sweater as a present. I put it on and go to mail my letter. Naturally, the cat comes along.

Sakamoto Ryuichi’s “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”. We line up for dinner. My roommate is next to me in line, and I hug her. The girl I have a crush on sits next to me at the table. She complements my sweater. The cat curls up in my lap, and I put the speaker on full blast. The food tastes great, and I’m happy. There was more that I wanted to do today, but that’s alright, I think. In this case, there will always be tomorrow.

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