-Letter From A Stranger (fiction)

I used to look forward to going there every day. It used to make me feel…important. Like I was a recognizable and necessary player in this vital game we call “business”. I thought, maybe, if I worked hard and smiled at the right people, kept my handshake good and firm, I could steadily climb hand over hand up the corporate ladder. I used to volunteer myself for projects in meetings, not realizing this defined me not as a leader, but as a pencil pusher, a drone.

I try to make it comprehensible. Call my career the girl I wanted to go on to marry; somehow I showed myself to be fit only for friendship, a steadfast acquaintance resolved to their will. I equated work with my love life and forgot completely about pursuing a real one. Weren’t all things meant to work out if I worked with the system?

Sometimes I wake up at 3:00 a.m. feeling more alive in the darkness than I do between cubes and beneath fluorescents. I turn my bathroom light on, put on my pants and jacket and the scarf my father left me, and go on a walk outside beneath the oak trees. I like the way the cold air infects my lungs and stings the tips of my ears and nose.

Three weeks ago I heard meowing. I turned around and saw the grey cat that I sometimes have to chase away from my car in mornings. It came up to me and began to brush itself against my leg. For some reason I decided it must be cold so I picked it up and carried it back to my empty apartment. I fed it water and shared the bland chicken I cook for myself, it scurried off to test its nails on my bed-frame.

Now three weeks have passed and she’s thrice bathed. I let her sleep against my arm every night. I put my face in her fur and realize abruptly that the feeling traveling through my chest all this time, all these nights and days, has actually been loneliness. It washes away against her like the grime leaving her fur in the tub.

At last, I wonder; how can I run away from life while staying right here? I skipped work two days ago to build her a step and a window sill and no one seemed to notice I was gone. If you’re already invisible, is there any need to disappear?