Every day, I’d wake up to naked concrete, put on the same tired outfit, and eat the same tired breakfast. Meals weren’t very creative. I didn’t have a kitchen, so I was forced to travel two blocks down the road to a cafeteria of sorts. At dinnertime, I could take my food back to my room, but breakfast and lunch were in the company of those horribly happy farm workers.
Then it was off to work, usually by riding in the bed of one of the trucks with upwards of six other people. We swiped our cards at Grant’s office, near the entrance of the greenhouse, and selected our individual work schedules from the menu of available jobs. It was hard to be bad at any part of the process. No matter what pace we worked at, quotas were always met. Grant had mentioned a night maintenance crew once or twice, and I was pretty sure they were in charge of picking up our slack.
Soon enough, all the days were blurring together as this new lifestyle became my normal. And, in a way, it was like I’d never left home. The work was menial, the company was artificial, and night after night I found myself aching for permanent silence.
I felt compelled to put on a show when I was at work. Now that I had to face these people every day, their judgment became more concerning. They hardly ever spoke about their suicides or their lives before, so I did the same out of fear I’d become the weirdest of the weirdos. But when I was alone, it was much harder to ignore the constant anguish eating away at my soul. Maybe I was supposed to feel relieved to be alive, maybe that was how the train expected us to heal ourselves, but I didn’t. If anything, I felt the same bitter regret as always but with a new twist of stupidity and just a dash of crushing apathy. More than ever, my existence meant nothing. If I were to die, hardly anyone would notice and no one would care. The quotas would be met, the other farm workers would maybe gossip about me for a day or so before returning to business as usual, somebody would clear out my apartment, and, just like that, all traces of Laura Baily would vanish into the air.
So why couldn’t I do it? Why couldn’t I simply find some new means to exterminate myself? Well, I had a history of failure. Every job I’d ever tried, every established enjoyable activity, I somehow found a way to screw up everything I touched. Even death. I’d actually managed to fail at dying. If I tried again, with a more involved process, I could only imagine the horror that would ensue. I pictured myself lying on that cold, concrete floor, definitely injured but just shy of fatally. I imagined hours of writhing and crying, willing myself to let go and the universe to hurry up and expel me. I was afraid. I was terrified to try anything anymore, so I just had to waste away in my stupid, sorry existence and hope for a miraculous accident.
Weeks went by, and I was still standing. Nothing had changed. I just kept working, kept breathing, kept living.
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