Any mentions of real persons are fictional interpretations lol

Just the beginning of a little sumfin’ sumfin’ I’m working on.

Kestrin Yugen wasn’t even a rat in a cage; she didn’t have the good fortune to be able to see her captors, or her surroundings. She couldn’t make an escape plan. She was a rat in a box, a cubicle. Rats get more space to run, surely. She just sat in an ergonomically designed chair with a conspicuous butt-shaped stain on its seat, probably from the person who worked here before her, who must’ve slowly seeped into the seat until he disappeared. She could feel her muscles begin to atrophy, her bones slowly filing down to shards, like the automatic pencil sharpener she was looking at that always sharpened the tips of her pencils into oblivion, no matter how she tried to time it differently. Three seconds was a small hill of wood with the graphite just starting to peak out, three and a half seconds was an inch-long shank. She visualized her brain mass decreasing to a peanut, her body slowly devolving back into an ape. She was hairier under her work pants than she wanted to admit. She could feel their spiky ends graze the polyester, but she comforted herself that no one else knew that just by looking at her.

She filed for a living. That is what she did. She had the system laid out for her, so she didn’t even need to use her brain to create one of her own. Blue means new patient, blue goes here. Red means September patient, red goes in the September file, and so on. If she was color blind or had synesthesia, maybe this would be a problem. Something to overcome. Unfortunately, she had neither; her eyes worked just fine. In fact, she felt she had a good eye for color. Girls always remarked on the beauty of her room, the stylish edge to her clothing. Here, she was an intern. Here, she was the bottom of the food chain. Here, her range of motion was less than ten feet. She had no window to peer out of to pass the time. The only window she had was the one open on her computer, and that was full of people, blogging people, chatting people, whining people. Looking at her through the little window, peering in at her sad, beige little box as they drew clever comics and posted on forums about the unjust law that was in danger of being passed, if she didn’t sign a petition. She mostly kept that window closed.

At least while she was in school she could look out the window during class, day dreaming of climbing the tree outside. She didn’t even climb trees anymore, but being in class made her think of her childhood, of being free; she wished for that carelessness so badly again that she felt like a child, tempestuous.

She didn’t feel any more comfortable in school, though at least the school gates were a cage and not a box. The other animals in the pen somehow could smell her fear, knew she was to be avoided. They didn’t fight her, though, or call her names. She didn’t get a rise out of them whatsoever. They sidestepped her like an old lion that would die soon, not a cause for concern. Yet their subconscious told them that she was an other-girl to be avoided. As if they could see by the way she tucked her thumbs under the straps of her checkered backpack and made her posture slightly more diminutive than it naturally aught to be that inside her mind, she was simultaneously a hamster cowering under cedar chips and a screaming banshee. She mostly kept her eyes on the ground, now out of habit, previously so as not to stare in the eyes of passersby, hoping one would be an acquaintance, or a cute boy who would take notice of her.

She mindlessly highlighted and unhighlighted text on the screen until Alec came up behind her, her posture utterly horrible, her spine surely working to permanently maintain that curve to her back, her elbow firmly planted on the desk in front of her, holding the entire weight of her desolation. Wordlessly, with a subtle clearing of his throat, he dropped a stack of files into her smaller, file-filled box on top of the bigger box that was her desk inside the slightly bigger box that was her “work-space.” She could tell it was Alec from the particular rolling sound his mucous made in his throat.

“Thanks,” she enthused, without turning around.

She thanked him as if he was giving her something she wanted, as if she was grateful for the pile of work he defecated on her desk. She thanked him because it was the polite thing to do, and she needed an income. She thanked him so he would be appeased and walk back to his own box.

She slid her arm under the back of her shirt and felt the little bump towards the middle of her spine. It felt bigger. She sighed audibly, then caught herself. She didn’t want to be that embarrassing person who talked to themselves all throughout  the work day; there were enough of those in the office. She continued to file, feel the bump on her back get bigger, highlight and unhighlight text, sigh, then stop herself, for seven more hours. With bathroom breaks.

Other people from her high school went off to college, got pregnant, became auto mechanics, became baristas. Kestrin became a filer. She somehow lacked the motivation to do anything at all, and so she chose something on an online database that was near her parents’ house. Secretly, though, filed away now in the back of her mind under “Future,” she knew she was better than this. She knew she could do something great. So she saved up her meager earnings in her cheeks for something… What exactly, she didn’t know yet. Maybe in the winter she would start a fiscally safe, low-yield savings account so she could eventually move out.

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