NaNoWriMo Day 1: “A Fate Worse Than Death” The first 1,666

Hello All,

Well, I’m officially NaNoWriMo’ing. I just completed my first day and met my word count! I’m going to be posting what I write here on the blog; free and for all to see. The hope is that this will encourage me to keep at this and meet my goal of writing a novel in a month. It will also give you guys an opportunity to chime in and tell me what you think about this loose plot progression. Thanks for reading!

-AnnaRK

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death (noun):  the permanent stopping of all the vital bodily activities. Example: <Death is one of the few constants in the universe.>

There is demise. There is an end. And with it comes the gloom of everyone waiting their turn. Death is a thing of many small parts. The cessation of once flourishing entities leads to a pile of disuse upon the scale. When the weight is too much for the living end to resist the pull of those things bygone, the tip is made and the balancing ends are unequally slanted…but everything is still. And the stillness, absorbed and held tight, is a comfort.

There is sleep. How natural it is and how grotesque, to slip into oblivion for hours on end, held down hard against soft surfaces, wrapped tight in warm things to ease and comfort the control wrestled from you as one succumbs to the blank and the nothing. I’ve heard many times that we always dream as we sleep, even if we do not remember these dreams. But if we are not aware of a life lived in our unconscious mind, how can we calculate its usefulness? I am a philosopher, and I ask this for not existence this time, but our unconscious existence: If we are dead in our dreams, do we live at all behind the wall of sleep?

[there is a section that goes here, but it was not written during NaNoWriMo and therefore is not included! ]

Driving to work, I still feel like I’m asleep. Everything has a slow, jumbled quality to it that makes it seem unreal.I was able to sleep after the nightmare with Jim, but it was a tremulous shaky sleep. I could feel myself clutching with my fingers at something, and muttering, even as I knew I was heavy and unconscious in this semi-slumber.

When the alarm rammed itself against my sense this morning at 5:45, I felt a swimmy-headed sensation as I sat up and silenced it. And the first thought that got at me was one of my childhood troubles with sleep. A memory of a smaller version of myself, rocketing up from sleep with a scream in my lungs and out my mouth and shaking down the hallway of my family home. I remember going in for several nights at the sleep clinic, forced to sleep in a bed that was not my own, little wires attached to me as I was then asked to sleep. Eventually it was determined that I had a quaint little thing called “night terrors,” just as chilling as they sounded. I was given sleep aid medication. I still took it every night. Not a single awful nightmare had worked its way into my nocturnal hours since then…well, until now.

The cars ahead of me on the ramp leading to the freeway are all backed up, and I can see the woman in the car ahead of me playing a game on her phone as we continue to wait out the cluster onto the highway. I’m a pretty unpopular guy, as far as all that goes. I’ve never had a group of male friends to bond or “bro” with as I suppose other males do. I’m an introvert, and I keep to myself, pushing my thoughts around into little piles all day and evaluating the tiny residue left behind by each move I make . But I don’t go in for computer and cell phone games to pass the time. I’m a loner, but I’m not that lonesome.

Billy Joel’s “Middle of the Night,” is playing on the radio and it’s too close to soft rock for me to tolerate before at least two cups of burnt office coffee. I press another one of my worn present buttons, the numbers upon them rubbed away by the oil from my fingers long ago. The Cadillac has been with me since my senior year of high school, almost ten years ago and it was already 10 years old when my grandmother on my mother’s side died and her stylish ride (with only the slightest wear and tear of a vehicle that had only been driven to the grocery store and back twice a week) was passed down to me.

My mind gets that blank, stalled engine feel that happens at least 15 times a day and I drift back to my place last week, standing in front of the office coffee pot, the drawer of coffee below pulled out and all the lackluster plastic bags full of variety coffee on display. And Jim was not there, but his red coffee travel tumbler was, sitting upright by the coffee pot like a stalwart soldier awaiting orders. But no, my brain jerks and tries to right that image, Jim never was there without his cup and his cup wouldn’t be there without him. As I question my memory, its edges seem bunched and slick like off brand cling-wrap. And Now I can’t be sure at all if I saw this scene last week as I decided on “Morning’s Delight” blend or if I was rather some residue I’d picked up from my nightmare of Jim’s end scene.

Jesus, I’m tired, I think, and my stalled engine of thoughts turns over, letting me back into my life that’s already in progress. I honk at the cell-phone gamer ahead of me that has been distracted as well as the clunk of cars unbinds and we have our access to the free way.

I park uneventfully, and enter the first floor lobby of the giant corporation I work for that owns enough things to have different floors dedicated to completely separate enterprises. The place already hums with a buzz of activity. Odds are good that there is coffee in the pot of all the breakrooms on every level of this multi-storied building, but there’s a sense of ownership to the carafe on my own floor workspace, and I can wait for the waking until after the elevator ordeal that is a morning constant.

I walk to the elevator to get to my own floor, my own break room, and I file in with a few others. I manage to be near enough to the panel today to push my floor number, and then I endure the jostle of start and stop among the floors until I am released upon the 18th floor.

We sell insurance on this floor. It’s divided into four quarters and each quarter of cubicles and their inhabitants sell a different kind of precaution against inevitable chaos. There’s the life insurance corner, the auto/boat/vehicle insurance corner, the health insurance corner, and the homeowner and property insurance corner. They are all pretty solidly hated by the population at large, but the most hated arena that seems to shine through is always the health insurance sales. This is the corner I call home.

Me and my co-sales people in this corner and yelled at more frequently than all other insurance sales on this floor. A death or bodily harm threat on the daily is par for the course in “illsurance” as we call it when our headsets are off. Or rather what the other sales agents and phone reps call it between themselves. They don’t bother to lean in and exchange much small talk with me. It goes to waste.

The mass of red tape surrounding almost any sickness, injury or (god forbid) surgery is what ties us in knots easily for the eight point five hours I am on the clock here (five point five hours on Saturdays). But time usually flies when you are being debased and reamed by the general public via voices piped into your head through our head phone uniform of self-loathing.

But generally speaking, the work doesn’t effect me much. Being hated by everyone I talk to is fine by me. The feeling is mutual, and I only thinly veil it when I do sales on Saturday or troubleshooting the calls I get for our company brand the rest of the week.

I have found coffee. And Jim’s red mug isn’t here. I feel stupid for even looking for it in the first place. My own mug of coffee in hand, I navigate the racetrack hall to go to my back corner and my cubicle. I set my cup down and snap my headset on my head, smoothing out a clump of my black, oily hair that’s gotten tangled in the band that encircles my head like a bizarre collar, training me, teaching me something I’m sure…although I’ve no idea what I’m supposed to be tested on later. I look to my phone unit, and there are four lines already glowing red, customers on these lines, listening to a soft rock ballad like the one I’d vetoed this morning as they wait for me to choose one of their glowing lights and provide some kind of magical answer that will solve all their healthcare woes.

Wincing slightly as I undoubtedly choose the wrong line, I offer the standard greeting to the caller, “Hello, this is George speaking. May I have your policy number and the last four digits of your phone number to confirm the information we have on hand here?”

My name is not George. It’s Jorge. But the company research shows that customers do not like to speak with anyone “foreign” or with a “ethic sounding” name. Their words; not mine. And so at work I have to go by George to the customers. I got tired of co-workers asking what part of Mexico I was from, and so my name tag also says “George.”

I wait for the customer to provide the numbers I’ve requested, but the line hums with static. “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch those numbers. Would you please repeat them or do you need to be transferred to sales?” I asked. The line continued to vibrate with the hiss of silence. Holding in a curse for the time waster who had either stepped away from the phone or attempted to hang up and failed, my finger poised to take the next lit button caller, but I was stopped when I heard a slow, intake of breath that sounded like it was drawn through clenched teeth. My finger hovered still, my patience thin with this delay or prank or whatever it was, but then the breath exhaled and the voice behind it, smooth and chilly and absolutely even, said:

“Jorge. This is your boss calling. We are going to need to get together today after lunch and discuss some things.

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Word Count: 1,764

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