The routine is killing him.
Realization hits him as he soaring through the sidewalk packed with other lifeless beings. He, along with them, drag their feet with certain destinations in mind, yet they have no power on disobeying nor altering. He blames the system outside. The stigmas. The rules. Something unseen created by human themselves, limiting their own freedom. It moves their bodies, tainting from their life and death to day-to-day decisions.
He lets out a protest sigh as soon as the apartment door slams shut behind his back, not quite sure for whom he did it. A whole second needs to pass in crawl for him to realize that the sigh is just one of the routine every time he comes back from work. He throws his bag without looking, to the corner of the room for sure. He takes off his suit, walks to the bathroom, fighting drowsiness as he showers, walks back to the kitchen with only towel covering his lower body, grabs whatever inside the refrigerator, eats and drinks in silent, and then flops to his bed without even changing to his pajama. Before he loses from his own drowsiness, he catches a glimpse of the alarm clock on the nightstand. Ten in the night. He has seven hours of sleep.
He wakes up at one whatever in the morning. Body drenched in sweats and tears. Out of breath. He clutches his chest and hugs himself afterward under the blanket, fighting back the nightmare he always fails to remember. While holding back his ugly sobs and pretending there’s no gaping hole inside him, he tries to cut off from reality. Yet until his alarm clock finally rings, he’s still wide awake.
He curses and sits. After dressing in his tracksuit, he breaks through the coldness of late autumn and takes a light jog. He has the usual urge to shake off the leftover from his gaping hole before going to work.
Exercising is the only thing he takes for granted beside sleep and eat. He’s really glad there’s still something left to cherish him. It’s kind of lie when he says he still appreciates sleeping, actually. Sleeping has turned into something he can’t fully enjoy as it will only reduce a small amount of fatigue, but keeps confronting him to nightmare. But, at least, sleeping helps him to cut ties with reality for a moment—for this morning’s case, it’s for three hours. In which, he will gladly enjoy the thing he actually hates. And then, there is eating. Or, let’s be specific, miso ramen. He’s always longing for a hot and salty taste of miso ramen. Though it’s no longer taste that good on his tongue no matter how craves he’s for it, it still tastes so much better than any food he has eaten. So, he always treats himself a bowl or two of miso ramen whenever he’s totally exhausted. For jogging, somehow, it has the same effect as sleeping. After an hour of jog, he feels fresh as if he’s woken up from a deep slumber. He feels the same sensation as if he’s running away from whatever scratching his back with a knife and succeed. This is the only way to make his heart beating as if he’s alive. And he feels grateful that this kind of activity wouldn’t attack him with a series of horror images that keeps him awake through the night.
Yet, he can’t shake free from the thought that it’s just a matter of time until he hates exercising just like how he is with sleeping. Maybe after that, he could properly die without dying again. Even a bowl of miso ramen wouldn’t save him.
He jogs in high pace. Thirty minutes is enough for him to erode bad emotions from the nightmare. He returns to his apartment feeling pumped. This is even better than the caffeine he can’t finally enjoy, breaking the tunnel vision he had since he woke up. After showering with lighter feeling, he goes out from the apartment and starts the hellish routine.
He buys a poorly made meat bun—two packs. He eats them as he waits for the train. After cleansing his throat with mineral water, he fits himself inside the train with another lifeless beings and the excellent effect from jogging this morning is eventually corroding.
By evening, he dies again.
Beautiful photo by David Werbrouck.