There was something so strange to him about the habits they’d all accepted – allowing others into their spaces so freely. Without question and with little reservation, they disadvantaged themselves for others. There was nothing he’d missed since being in the “outside world,” and the reasons continually became clearer with each passing day.
Since returning home, it was as if life had continued on without him. He often wondered if anyone bothered noticing that he’d been planted back into his original position, with no regard for his weathered, scraggly roots.
“Can you hold that please?”
A woman in a poorly tailored, pin striped suit shouted as her conservative heels clacked against linoleum tiles. Staring at her, completely ignoring formalities, he pasted a weak smile onto his face, maintaining eye contact while simultaneously pressing the close door button feverishly.
Abruptly sticking her hand between the nearly closed doors, she looked at him annoyed. “Thank you.” She stated in an aggravated tone.
He recalled her kind well as he’d seen her come and go several times with different faces. The persona she held had once impressed him, but now he saw it for what it was. This demeanor was nothing more than attempt at feeding into what was expected of her. For women like this, appearance was everything, and she had been a willing participant in the charade so long, that she’d grown to believe her own performance.
She placed her briefcase on the dingy elevator floor and immediately retreated from the awkwardness into her phone. Urged by impulse rather than a genuine interest, he looked over out of the side of his eye, monitoring her activities as her screen illuminated and vibrated between her palms.
“Hey! Yeah, I’m so sorry, my last hearing ran long, can you pick up the kids today? …Wait, why is it so loud, where are you? …I told you I needed you to clear your schedule today just in case I – …No, don’t worry about it… Yeah, it’s fine, I get it. Don’t worry, I’ll try calling my mom.”
She placed her phone into her briefcase’s front pocket, eyes fix on the floor in front of her. He stared shamelessly from his peripheral view, but she refused to return his gaze, instead facing forward as the elevator doors fumbled and hissed themselves open on the fifth floor.