After finishing Web of Angels, I did some writing exercises to get used to facing the blank page again so I could start something new. Recently, I re-read what I wrote then. This small piece of fiction surprised me, and I want to share it with you today.
My life exists from Monday to Friday. On Saturday I acquire the necessities of life, thus supporting my existence. I shop in the morning, in the afternoon I cook, and in the evening I do laundry. But Sundays are an endless and meaningless day. There is nothing between me and the absurdity of my other days. Sometimes, on Sundays, I contemplate suicide. I always decide to wait another day. Twenty-four hours won’t matter, I assure myself, knowing that it will make all the difference. I would never kill myself on a Monday or any other day except for Sunday. My colleagues have suggested I buy a cat. Then on Sunday I could clean out the litter. They have suggested I volunteer on Sundays. I could be a big brother or work in a soup kitchen. That is possible, but I despise the weak and infirm. Are you surprised? It is not a sentiment that is acceptable today, but one that many people secretly hold. Why else are conservative governments so successful? People assert that the weak and infirm are so by choice, that they need only pull themselves up by the bootstraps and then they would be strong and well. I do not so assert. I merely accept my feelings toward them. They are what they are and I am what I am. I do not like the dirty masses.
I work as an actuary. It is clean work and useful work. Someone must calculate risk and it is a complex calculation particularly these days with climate change. Our old formulae for hurricane and flood are simply not accurate any more. Mostly my work is for insurance companies and these are necessary and useful. Before insurance, those who were strong and well became sick and weak because of unexpected happen stance. Now, they may take the step of purchasing insurance and thereby ensure their strength and their wellness when fire strikes or burglars make their appearance. Sometimes I am contracted to the government, which also requires a knowledge of how many will live and how many will die in order to devise appropriate pension schemes and health care plans.
I do not determine who will live and who will die. That is God’s work, if God indeed exists. It is something I rely upon from Monday to Saturday, but which I doubt very much on Sundays. My colleagues have suggested that I go to church. I did attempt to do so once, but the closeness of the washed masses did press in upon me and I did not enjoy it. I would rather contemplate suicide then smell my neighbour’s breath. At least suicide can be put off until tomorrow while the breath cannot politely be fanned away.
I check the clock. It is 10:58 am. In two minutes my mother will call. My clock is synchronized to hers. She is as confirmed in the regularity of her habits as I am in mine. Her cell phone rests on her beside table and has an amplifier so that she does not have to exert herself. It is usually after our conversation that I contemplate suicide. If I decide to postpone self-execution, I will go downstairs and take my mother to the toilet. Then I will bathe her, dress her and put her back in her wheelchair. I will count the hours until the nurse’s day off is over. I will count the minutes. I will count the seconds.