I see a man on the bus.
Perpetual bills and a lingering injury from his high-school days weigh heavy on his shoulders, and exhaustion puffs the under of his eyes and paints them black.The mesmerizing glares of the passing streetlights gently push him back into reality each time he feels his lids begin to shut,4 and his mind begin to drift off into the sandman's arms.
It's a harsh reality.
His job has announced impending lay-offs due to poor numbers in the third quarter. He still wrestles with the logic behind how that may possibly be his undoing and resulting termination -- he has not been late with his duties or lethargic in his work ethic since, ever. On top of that his uncle has been sick the past few months. The old man swears he is fine -- that it is just the changing of the seasons -- and just like the reasons for the lay-offs, he is not sure he is convinced.
The exhausted man adjusts the tie strangling him. He used to enjoy dressing up; it made him feel mature. Now it was suffocating. He wished he took more chances to dress in shorts and sneakers when he was younger.
He was not unfit in any noticeable way. His friends would often jab his arm and tell him to bite his tongue whenever he mentioned how doughy or sluggish he felt. They assumed he was just phishing for attention. He wish they knew he was not. He had not felt confident in his body in a while. He imagined that there was a point in his youth he did, but he could never be sure.
He was never sure about much of anything. In fact, there was exactly one thing in his entire life that he would be his everything on: he was the luckiest man in the world.
He would wake up in his apartment, and some mornings he would think of how some men would rise up in mansions, but those thoughts never dampen his morning. There were times he would look down at his dinner, still steaming, and think of how others had entire banquets to dine from. Yet still he ate with a voracious appetite and boundless gratitude. There were times when he would remember that he still rode the bus home from work, while others sped down the same free-way with their roofs down and their hair flowing in the cool wind. He would feel a tinge of envy, but just as quickly as it formed, it would be snuffed out, replaced with something much warmer.
In those moments of aimless want and worry -- those moments where he was not sure if he was where he was meant to be -- he would reach into his pocket, and pull out his phone. His thumb would click the button, and a picture of her smiling would illuminate on the screen. And that smile would bring out his own, and he would pity those men who awoke in their mansions for they did not have her to wake up next to; he would shake his head those people with their vast banquets and feasts, for they were not made with the same love and warmth that his dish was cooked with; and he would lament those individuals with the fast cars and long hair, because they raced towards a home where she was not waiting.
But himself, well, nothing, not the bills or the lingering injury or the exhaustion or the lay-offs or even the sick uncle could take away happiness he had in knowing that while he had none of the fortunes others may have had, he always had her.