A Test

[This is a short story written in 1991 while at UIUC.  Lyric quotes are from some Enya song, name escapes me now.]

He stepped out into the cold, glad to be through and glad to be out.  The cold winter wind slapped him in the face as if scolding.  He hadn’t really bundled up too well – just wanted to leave.  He stood there now pulling together his jacket, fastening the zipper and throwing his bag over his shoulder.  Sure was cold tonight.

“Damn…” he though to himself.  “What the hell’s happening to me?”  The cold wind stopped and stood still and for a brief moment, there was silence around him.  He reached into his bag, felt around, and produced his walkman, perhaps the only thing he valued tonight.  “Got a long walk back.”

Pretty cold tonight.  Pretty dark too, and quiet, as if everyone knew and wanted to leave him alone.  Everyone else was probably still in there.  There were perhaps many going on tonight and many people were probably still finishing up.  He didn’t care – just glad to be out of there.  “No use in sitting around here any more.” he has said to himself as he had grabbed his bag to leave.

It was cold.  Cold and dark.  The wind had picked up.  He had felt alone before, but tonight he felt really alone – and sad.  He had never failed like this before.  “Fuck it – who gives a shit anyways?” he said out loud, breaking the stillness, as he flicked on his walkman.  As if to abuse him, a brief gust of wind blew by.  His ears stung.  He could imagine what they would say, and wanted only to block it out.  He shrugged.  “Life goes on.”  He shrugged again, as if to signify something important, and started back.  He shoved it back into his pocket.

Finding nothing interesting on the radio, he hesitantly freed his hand to brave the cold, and thumbed for the play button.  For the past five months, music had become his one place of refuge.  He could block out anything with the flick of a switch.  If only that worked in real life. ‘…Eurus…’  He still had a ways to go.

It was cold and reminded him of happier days; days gone by delivering papers.  How he was alone and could be himself.  How he would daydream of his other life (how he wished he was there instead of here), and for a short while, all would be okay.  How he would yearn for the house up next with the Christmas lights strung up, smiling at him.  He would pay them a little attention as he stopped to warm his hands in their glow.  ’…if every man is true…’

“How romantic a night!” he thought.  “How I wish I had someone special in my life.” A though which brought a tear to his eye.  Someone to take a walk with on a night like this.  Someone who would care because tonight he didn’t.  He’d never been in love before.  He rounded the corner and could see the lights ahead.

This wasn’t his life, was it?  He wished with all his heart that someone would come and take him away.  Away to the place he belonged.  But that was there.  ‘…etu itu ad astrum…’  He was here.  The wind stopped yet again, and there was the noise of passing cars and people talking.

How warm he felt as he pushed open the door to the builing and headed down the hall.  She saw him quickly, and started towards him.

“Your back early!”

“Yeah, it was a breeze.”