Chapter 1

This is the first chapter in an ongoing section called “Fiction in Reality.” This is the first story in this section. If you are new to this blog or to the story, I would suggest reading the “Fiction in Reality” or “About” page to either catch up on the story or find out more. Enjoy.

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The late morning sun was peeking through the blinds. The rays were coming through the dirty window at the angle where you could see all the dust flutter around the room as the blinds swayed slowly back and forth from the current created by the creaking ceiling fan.

The walls were bare, a sort of off-white. This was not the kind of off-white you choose at your local hardware store. This was the kind of off-white that had once been bright white but turned dim due to neglect over the years. It matched the worn shag carpet that covered the floor–or at least part of the floor. Various stains from former tenants mingled at various spots in the room. Burn marks from cigarettes and only God knows what else stained the floor too.

Next to the door stood a dark wood dresser. At one point in time it would have been the piece that a father would hand down for his son to have as a kid, but not anymore. The top had been scuffed up, chipped, and scratched through the various moves in its lifetime. The top drawer appeared intact until you tried to push it in, then you had to wiggle it to get it unstuck. The second drawer was missing a handle, and therefore was permanently pulled open for easy access. The bottom drawer was missing entirely and became a cave that housed a disheveled pile of underwear, socks, and gym shorts. There was only one thing that stood on top of the dresser–a picture frame–and it was not really standing; it was actually face down.

A bookshelf hugged the wall adjacent to the dresser. While the color of the bookshelf matched the dark wood of the dresser, it was easy to tell that they were not from a matching set. The bookshelf felt newer, like something you would buy from a large department store’s clearance rack because it was last year’s style. There was a smattering of books strewn across the bookshelves: a couple paperback John Grisham novels, a copy of TIME magazine from three months ago, an old biology textbook from college, and few philosophical and religious books that looked like they had not even been touched. Dust had collected to the point that the bookshelf looked more like the inside of a mausoleum than intellectual trophy case. Like the dresser, miscellaneous clothes and accessories found a home on one of the three shelves too.

On the opposite wall in the corner sat an old desk with the nicest piece of furniture in the room: the computer chair. Granted, it was not a four-hundred dollar swivel chair, but it was the most expensive piece in the room, although that is not saying much. The chair had a red polo and khakis thrown over the back with a name tag on the floor under the desk. On top of the desk was a lamp, cell phone, and computer. Like the rest of the room, the bare minimum. Though the lamp was plugged in, it didn’t have bulb. The cell phone was flashing indicating a missed call, text message, voicemail, email, or some combination of the four. The computer was left open with a bag of potato chips strewn across the keyboard. Apparently it was supposed to have been charging overnight because the power cord was plugged into the wall and sitting on the desk, but the cord had not been plugged in right. It was a safe bet it had been dead for a couple hours. A half full plastic cup sat next to the computer probably filled with a mixture of last night’s alcohol with the morning-before’s coffee. Just to complete the trifecta, an empty pack of cigarettes claimed the corner of the desk looking about as beaten and bruised as the furniture that held it up.

The bed and its occupant occupied the middle of the room. No headboard or footboard, just a set of box springs and a full mattress. There were no sheets on the bed except for the worn fitted sheet over the mattress. The occupant was covered only by a black, twin comforter with a makeshift pillow under head. Like the rest of the room, it wasn’t impressive. Next to the bed sat what was meant to be a side table, but, in reality, it was just an old wooden crate with a couple two by four planks missing. A few stray coins and receipts found their home on top of the crate next to the permanent resident of a digital alarm clock whose large, green numbers blinked in rhythm consistent with a power outage.

The only noise in the room, aside from the muffled sounds of daily life such as car horns, dump trucks, people chatter, and airplanes, was the music playing from the reset alarm clock. It was set to a station that appeared to be stuck in the 80s rock scene where men in tight leather and makeup did not match the sounds they were creating. The music was not turned up loud, only loud enough to be considered background music at any other time so as not to disturb the current occupant sleeping. That is, until the slamming of his neighbor’s next door jolted him out of his nap.

“Dammit,” Derek groaned as he eyed the clock beside his bed and squinted at the rays coming through the window. He rolled over and stared at the ceiling, brushed the hair out of his eyes, and sighed deeply.

“Late again,” he whispered to the empty room. The room seemed to echo back the sentiment of defeat as Derek his eyes drifted slowly shut.

“I’m sure someone will cover for me. I’ll call in sick later and just tell ’em I forgot,” he justified as his rolled over and pulled the comforter over his half-naked body. “They don’t care; I’ll be fine,” he said with a yawn.

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