I boarded the Euskotren from Irún, so I managed to wangle one of the best seats available in any of the carriages: the individual one next to the corridor connection, which faces a row of three seats. Now that I’ve grabbed that seat, nobody can stand beside me, as I have a curved, plasticky wall on my left and an opaque glass divider on my right. But at this hour, the train quickly got crowded by a cross section of the workers and students of this province. Two women in their forties, dressed with conservative business attire, have taken the opportunity to get some shut eye in front of me, and the remaining seat got filled by a student who keeps scrolling on his phone.
I want to sleep, if only to disappear from my life for a few minutes, but my heart is pounding and my palms are sweating because I dread what awaits me at my office. For the first time since I became a wage slave all those years ago, I’ll arrive late to work because of a horse that eats my dreams, and also because my car nearly killed me. I had feared that the poor excuse of a horse that stalks me would hinder me as I face the workday’s challenges, but now I’m sure that my terrible mood will ruin my performance, although I was already slacking off.
I keep picturing my boss’ lascivious visage as he reprimands me for wasting his time and money with these shenanigans of mine, while he fondles his hard cock under the desk. Ramsés’ eyes always seems so hungry when he stares at me with those serpentine black pupils. He’s going to fire me and replace me with a young and obedient female employee, someone he can use like a sexual toy. Or else he’ll force himself upon me in various positions, while he yells obscenities in my ear and I cry tears of shame and humiliation in full view of my coworkers. I shudder with disgust. How sick is that man to want to fuck a woman right next to her colleagues?! And why does he want to fuck me so badly anyway?!
Why can’t the crowd shut up? Who would want to carry a conversation at this hour? Stop interrupting my thoughts! Be quiet for a minute, just a minute, so my brain can rest. Why must we talk all day long, filling our heads with nonsense? I bet they just want to hear themselves over the sound of the train’s engine and the clatter of its wheels against the tracks beneath us. Their voices make me dizzy and nauseous, like they’re speaking through an echo chamber that amplifies every word they utter and turns every syllable into an insult that stabs deep into my soul like knives made out of nails. Their brains rot in their skulls while their mouths spew filth into the air. What have they done to deserve to be born into this world, to live their pathetic lives in this miserable country with its shitty weather and its ugly people? Please, let this be over soon.
And those two female office workers sitting in front of me look so placid. Their minds must surely be drifting away into dreams of lovemaking, while mine is consumed with thoughts of a horse’s obscene appendages that he so eagerly wants to stretch out towards me.
The train has passed Oiartzun, and again the view from the windows gets reduced to a succession of naked trees that have sprouted from the earth close to the tracks to expose their numerous, skeletal limbs like perverted alien abominations. Why can’t nature shield its hideous appearance at least when I’m forced to stare at it to distract myself during such insufferable rides? Instead, I’m being assaulted by its ghastliness every passing second as this monstrosity of metal rumbles along.
When we stop at Errenteria’s dreary station, with its graffiti suggestions for us to get out and for the fight to continue, the doors open and a bunch of people penetrate my carriage like an invading horde of zombies. Two Eastern European guys whose stocky builds and worn T-shirts and cargo pants suggest they work in construction, one of who sports a scar that bisects his left eyebrow, stare back at me as they pass by to find seats. My heart beats faster. Why the hell did they hold my gaze? What did I do to them? People always have to bother me even though I’m just sitting here, stewing in my misery. Just leave me alone, damn you!
They are gone. I shouldn’t need to worry about those bastards anymore, and I have to focus on finding a way to survive the rest of the day. My stomach feels like somebody has stuffed a fistful of sand down there. I catch the student gazing over his phone towards my work bag, that I placed between my seat and the glass divider. Is he trying to steal my bag? I barely put anything in it, I mostly carry it around because it soothes me somehow. Why does however is in charge of trains in this country force me to share my ride with a thief? Then I hear the muffled sound of my chosen ringtone coming from my work bag. After I reach into my bag to hold my vibrating phone, I anticipate the embarrassment of having to open my mouth and speak surrounded by all these strangers.
When I find out who’s calling, I nearly piss myself. It’s Jacqueline. The insisting vibrations of her call are travelling down my forearm, straight towards my nether regions. What do I do? I’m too nervous to talk to Jacqueline, especially after she provided such a stupefying orgasm in the shower this morning. But if I don’t take the call now, she might hang up and go away forever!
“H-hello…?” I say as I hold the phone against my ear.
I hear a muffled sigh on the other end of the line. I strain my ears to listen in on whatever she utters, hoping to retain every word.
“You know,” Jacqueline starts, “I feared you wouldn’t have answered, or that your phone would have been disconnected.”
I could taste the concern in her voice. She thinks about me when I’m away. I exist.
“Why would you think something like that?” I ask her with a dry tone that evidences my anxiety.
“Because you aren’t here? I’m used to seeing you sitting at your PC as I walk into our office every morning. So either you were sick today, or something much worse had happened. After you broke down in the bathroom…”
Jacqueline continues talking, but my gasp interrupts her.
“Wait, I don’t want the others to find out about that!”
I spoke too loud, becoming one of those annoying assholes who bother the other commuters by forgetting they aren’t sitting in their living room. A few stares land on my exposed skin, so I lower my head and cover half of my face with my free hand.
“I’m standing outside,” Jacqueline says. “The dawn is about to break, so that should be nice. Did you wake up today only to start crying all alone?”
I lower my voice to defend myself.
“I’m not that pathetic. No, my shitty old car broke down, that’s all. I’ve found myself having to rely on the train to reach our awkwardly situated business park, although I hadn’t gotten on a train for years.”
“But you didn’t call the office to tell you were running late, did you?” she asks with a slight French accent that makes her sound charming and childish.
“R-right, people inform others when they will arrive late to things…”
Jacqueline laughs, and I become jealous of how natural and effortless it sounded.
“Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t have called. So you are fine then? You’re safe?”
“I’m fine, other than the fact that adult life is an unending nightmare of indentured servitude to pay for the debt I incurred when I was born.”
Jacqueline giggles. I’m offended that she considers modern slavery a laughing matter, but I can almost see that gorgeous woman’s smile through the phone speaker. Her laughter is infectious, and I would have laughed if my heart wasn’t rotten after years of sadness and self-loathing.
“Alright, Leire. I’ll see you soon, then?”
“Who knows what might happen on my way to the office. I can think of many disasters.”
“Stop thinking of disasters, sweetie. Tell yourself that everything is going to be fine.”
Jacqueline’s voice is so warm and soothing that I’m inclined to do anything she demands.
“Because everything is guaranteed to be fine if I tell myself so?” I ask incredulously.
“Not at all. But it would lessen your anxiety, which would contribute to make you feel better. That’s what’s all about, isn’t it? Being happy and feeling good while we are still alive?”
That sounds incorrect to me, but my chest is hot and tight, and my breath has become shallow, irregular. The hint of melancholy in her voice had told me that she had experienced some dark times. I wish we could keep talking for hours. Jacqueline blesses me with her attention; it gives me strength and courage to continue to function as a person. And I’d do anything for this woman to hold me in her arms again.
I can’t tune out the conversations of nearby commuters, but I hide the legs of the three people who occupied the seats in front by covering both my eyes. I hunch over, resting my elbows on my knees. Jacqueline and I are alone in the office. She has stayed after hours at our workplace as an excuse to spend time in private with me. Or even better, she has invited me to her house, and she’s about to excuse herself to put on more comfortable clothes as I sit on the edge of her bed.
“Hey, listen,” I say softly, my lips brushing the phone. “Thank you again for caring for an annoying wreck like me. It means so much that you are looking out for my well-being. I-I want to repay you somehow, so…”
I can’t come up with any way to repay her that doesn’t involve me kneeling in front of her pussy. A few seconds later, Jacqueline remains quiet. I can’t even hear her breathe. I open my eyes and find out that the train is speeding through a tunnel, so the call has dropped. Why does this damn province have to be so hilly?
But as I slump in the chair and I take a deep breath, my body quivers from Jacqueline’s lingering presence. I close my eyes. For the rest of this journey, I’ll lose myself in memories of our intimate moments together.
As soon as I get off the train at the underground station of Lugaritz, I’m surrounded by fresh young adults who likely attend the nearby college. They walk around while they hold their phones. Some of them stop and chat with each other about their classes.
An unpleasant feeling comes over me, and I start to sweat and shiver. The butter yellow panels that cover this station’s walls, along with its bright fluorescent lights, remind me of looking into a fridge, and I’m one of the packaged products waiting on a shelf. When did I become someone’s disposable article, meant to be thrown away when they no longer need me anymore?
The nearby humans likely smell my fear of them and consider it an invitation to attack and devour me. There is nowhere to run away to now that I have arrived at this place of horror. The smiles of these twenty year olds are full of malice, but they restrain themselves from touching me in case they catch something contagious.
As I stand on the sidewalk outside the station, a few minutes after sunrise, I look down the slope towards a peanut brown building that features two parallel, vertical constructions that resemble blocky smokestacks and that may house the elevators. The business park where I work is in that direction, but how do I reach it from here? I should have looked it up online at home, but that was a problem for future me to handle. I better start walking.
The clouds look like they are melting into the sky as they fly by fast. I trudge past modern-looking, white and grey apartment buildings, a roundabout, and tall office towers that make me feel tiny. The October sun shines brightly on my face through the trees. My eyes are already tired and sore, and my nose is runnier than normal. My nerves are jangling around inside my body like a chorus of impotent monkeys. Everything is a nuisance and a burden. Why do I bother, in general? Why struggle through this life? I wish it all could cease with the push of a button.
I thought I had gotten lost, but I recognize an upward slope that I have driven along five days a week since I started working at this job. The reclined sidewalk is adjoined to a park with freshly cut grass, and that contains a playground where a few housewives are already playing with their spawns. As always, the moms ignore my existence because I’m not their biological child.
I can’t say I’m into kids, but that housewife life sounds like a dream come true. I would forget how this decaying world looks like at six in the morning, and a few hours later I would wake up, prepare myself a cup of coffee, and accompany my young child, whom I would have cursed with my anxiety and depression, down to the playground, where the kid would climb and slide while I would lie down on the soft, green lawn and let my mind drift away until I fell asleep. But I can’t do that, because I need to reach my workplace, which is why I’m pushing myself forward and up this hill as my legs burn unpleasantly from the lack of exercise, and I have to steel myself for the remaining hours of the workday, during which I’ll have to pretend that I’m a functional human being instead of an anxious wreck that wants to die.
Once I reach the plateau where they built the business park, I turn left and follow the sidewalk, passing by a wide variety of cars that are occupying all the available parking spaces close to the office blocks. The sun whitens the mirrorlike, wavy surface of the building that contains the restaurant to which Jacqueline had dragged me during a lunch break. Less than a minute later I’m staring at the boxy, salt white office building that contains my workplace and that was built to ruin my life.
As I hurry towards the entrance, a sudden movement in the row of multicolored garbage bins makes me stop. My body shudders at a sudden chill running through it as a wind blows from behind me. A dark mass is perched on the lid of the banana yellow bin. A second and a third mass slink up the sides of the bin to join the first entity. A fourth and a fifth mass follow suit. They are formed by a fluid substance that resembles tar. As if my eyesight was getting sharper, I can make out the shades that differentiate each entity as they coalesce to form one single black blob.
I stare at the mass as it shuffles in place as if breathing, and on the edge of my hearing I pick up sounds that resemble whimpers of pain and anguish as the creatures melt into a lump of putrid, foul-smelling sludge of despair.
Whatever. I continue on my way to find out what horrors await at the office today.