There's nothing more boring than routine. Those who know me, understand very well what I mean. A life in limits, in terms and rules. You know what it's like to wake up in the morning, do a job you don't like, deal with people you don't fit into, live with money that barely reaches you for a month, spend your time, no chance of evolution, no room to escape and finally live a life you don't love, just spending it, until the day you leave from it. And yet, there are people who love this way of life. They're never late, like they have a timer in them. Their lives are a well-timed watch, without coming out of the way and breaking any rules. That's life, they say, that's how society forces it, until they just spend it all having lived, absolutely nothing.
Peter was an employee in a bank and his life was just like that. He was in charge of the money. Every day, they passed through his hands, thousands of dollars. His brain was made of bills and gold bars. He was working as a calculator, after all, he was responsible for running the bank. He was never away from his job, he was in his office, every day, the same time. He lived alone, in a small apartment, and they usually moved on the subway. He didn't need the car, anyway, his whole life was his office. He always said, "I haven't lived in many years. Maybe I'll do something different in the future." He couldn't understand that life is now, she won't wait. Live as long as you can and as long as you can live. Do things, even if you regret them tomorrow. Break the rules. No one's going to congratulate you in the end. All you get, will be the flowers they bring you to the land that will accommodate you in eternity.
That Tuesday, that rainy Tuesday, was the first time he was late to work. His alarm didn't ring, and his cell phone didn't sound. No one looked for him, no one woke him up. When he opened his eyes, he was still at the last pier on the subway station. "But there is no one, not one person", he thought, "where is everybody? At this hour, there should be a lot of traffic. I guess I'm still dreaming. Soon the alarm will ring to wake me".
And yet, the most absurd of all, was the empty subway, even in his dream. There was not a single person around him. He started walking all the corridors, in case he met someone. He finally realized that he might have fallen asleep at the subway station while waiting for his train. Not unreasonable, considering that this job was causing him so much anxiety that he burned his brain, and always made him feel very tired.
At one point, his gaze caught a little girl in a blue dress running down the stairs. "Wait", he was yelling at her, "Wait, I want to talk to you", but in seconds he lost her to his eyes. Several hours later, he met a homeless, drunken man at Platform Number 2. "Excuse me", he said, "how long have you been here? Why are all the docks empty from people"?
The drunk man looked at Peter so persistently, he froze his blood. "I don't know, mate, I've been here since I remember myself. It was empty when I came".
"He didn't help me much, the guy", he thought. A little bit further, on another platform, he met two other guys playing cards.
"Excuse me", he cried. "How long have you been here? Where's everybody? Where are the trains? Yesterday it wasn't like that".
Those two looked at him strange. "What are you talking about"? One responds. "And yesterday and the day before, and every day is like this. We've been here forever, I know what I'm telling you".
"I don't care, you know, I have to go. I have work in my office. First time i'm so late, i have to come back".
"Sorry, mate, but if you met the collector, you're not going to get out of here. Otherwise we'd have gone too. But whoever meets him never leaves this place".
Peter looked at them in mad. "What do you mean? I didn't meet any collector. I don't even know him. I'll find the way out and get out of here. All I have to do is climb those stairs".
Those two guys, they started laughing and laughing. "My friend, if you can find the way out, don't forget us", they shouted at him as he walked away. He was running like a madman up the stairs, but he never remembered them so many, and every time he stopped to breathe, he was back to the beginning, at the bottom of the stairs. When he got tired, folded on his knees and started yelling and swearing at them, something he didn't get used to, there was no reason why, anyway, his life was so boring.
He couldn't take it anymore, he couldn't understand what was going on, or who the collector was, who he was mentioned. He took off his cell phone and called the colleague in the office. Her name was Sonia. "Pick up the phone, Sonia", he said while he was calling. But the line fell. He called again, but it fell again. “What's going on, cause she's not picking up”, he was thinking. She called a third time, and before the line fell, the girl answered it. He yelled at her to come and help him, but she never heard his voice from across the line, and she just shut it down.
He was disappointed by everyone. ‘'Nobody looked at him? No one loved him? Wasn't he so good at his job? No one felt his absence"? he was thinking. ‘'I will find a way out of here and then all of those who once needed me will see", he said. He was so absorbed in his thoughts, and in his agony of getting out of the subway to return to his routine, that all this time, from the moment he woke up down there, he didn't discern the black-colored figure that followed him all the time.
"Who are you? Why are you following me"? He turned around and told him. But he didn't get an answer. The black-colored figure stayed to look at him through the shadows of the hall, without a single word. "What do you want from me? Why are you here"? But there was still no answer. He was just staying to look at him through the dark. "Show me your face, tell me your name. Are you the collector they told me"? But for the third time, there was no answer. "Tell me something! You can't just stand there and just look at me"! Call this time. And then the lighting over his head, it flickered and went out. The black face-free figure stretched his hands to touch him, making a scream so terrible, as if it came from the depths of hell, that made Peter's blood freeze. He never touched him, he was just found next to the ridges, at the end of the train.
"Don't try to scare me, mate, I don't believe in ghosts", Peter said, "these are all creations of human imagination. There's no the further. There is nothing after that; everything is reasonable". But the figure was so offended that her epic scream broke all the lights around. She stretched her skeletal, elegant hand, pointing to him in one of the deep tunnels on the right.
"What are you showing me? There's nothing there", but the scream that followed, made him close his eyes and ears. When he opened them, there was no one there next to him. The light was back. "Bullshit", he thought, "i just imagined it", he said, and he went back to the stairs to come up. But there were no stairs now. Their position was taken by a huge stone gate, which reached the ceiling. On the stone, there were hundreds of written names on the list. At the end of it there was his name. Peter Derry. "What is this? Who wrote it"? He said. Behind him, there was a little laugh. He turned around and saw the same little girl he had seen at first. She never saw her this close. Her skin was white and her blue dress was covered in blood. He was playing and running towards the tracks. "Wait", he yelled at her, "What's the matter with you? it's dangerous to run. Be careful that a train maybe come and hit you".
"No, it's not going to hurt me anymore", the child replied for the first time. "If you don't believe me, i'll show you", she told him and pulled him from his hand to the wall across the tracks, towards where the black-colored figure showed him earlier. She laid out her hands to touch the walls, but her body had no matter, flesh and blood and they were crossing the stone wall. "See? There's nothing it can touch me. I'm not afraid anymore", she said to him smiling, but he stayed with his mouth open. "How? how did you do that"? Ask her. She laughed again. "If you're here, so, also you can do it", she said, and he went away from him. He was trembling at the idea of what could have happened before. He stretched his hands to touch the wall, but they disappeared inside the stone. "No, it is not possible, that cannot be the case. I can't be dead". A little further down, in the tunnel where the figure showed it, it was on the ground, a human body, in the dark. He didn't get close. He got scared, and he started running towards the two guys who were playing cards a little bit down, calling for aid.
"What's going on? Why are you shouting"? One asked him. "There is no one here to help you".
"Please. There is a dead body over there, in that train arch".
"Did you see his face"? the other man asked him.
"No, I'm afraid to see it. I'm afraid what I'm going to see, is not going to like me at all. I don't know why, but I think I'm dead".
They looked at him abruptly, and they burst out laughing. "Well done, good to know, tell us about something new, mate".
"That is, you want to say that you too"..
"We've been dead, mate, for a long time. Whoever you've seen down here is dead. All of us here, we have the same fate. Eternity awaits for us".
"No, it can't be, it is not possible. I have so many things to do. I have a life. I have a job waiting for me. It’s not fair". He said.
"Isn't that fair? Life always plays "dirty". Do you have a life? What did you live while you were alive? I know you were in a never-ending routine. You live, you don't live, it's the same thing for you".
"You're wrong. I am someone, I have a name in society. Everyone appreciates me for my work".
"So what? What did you do for yourself? For your desires and your dreams? You know, while I was living I was too rich. I had so much money that I could fund a whole city for five years. But I didn't. I spent my life and my fortune on alcohol and drugs. The women of one nights stands were all I wanted. I got so deep into the darkness, it was impossible to get out. And you know, this is not real life. This is not happiness. It's just an illusion with an end date, and one day it'll end in the worst way. I couldn't do anything right for myself, even though I had unlimited wealth. At some point I woke up from the indecent life I lived in. I wanted to live, to start my life from the beginning. I was young still. I made the decision to change, to create things that I loved, right things this time, to be a good person, not just for me, but for others. But a cancer didn't think so. One day i was well and the next one, i found myself inside a hospital, struggling with chemotherapy. I've spent my whole life collecting money, without making a single wish. I had a name in the society, too. People were afraid of me and were showing me respect, because I had money. I thought I was someone. I didn't work with emotion. I was just using money, of course, in the wrong way. I didn't love anyone, not even myself. Ι was destroying him and wasting him on meaningless things, that's what i thought was life, but i was wrong. I didn't do anything worth it to me. I didn't do anything for myself. I didn't make even dream. And at a random moment I lost everything. I went out to walk one of my last nights. To live as long as i could, but i was murdered here, next to the train platform. Better. At least I didn't melt from cancer. Since then I have been here, and now i have lived absolutely nothing, and in eternity. No matter how much money you earn, they won't save you. You won't be saved if you fall into the hands of a murderer or if destroy your health. And you can't take the wealth with you either. Only your soul will be taken with you, your deeds and your guilts. Your kindness or misery. We are nothing, a moment in time".
Peter couldn't say a word. He didn't believe what he was hearing from the guy across him. Then, for the first time, there was a heartbeat. He was coming from within him. "In your misfortune, you have been lucky", the same man told him. "They found you. You're not dead yet. Go, join with your body while it's time. Life gave you a second chance, run and catch it". Peter was trembling, he was sweating on his forehead. His body was still lying there, but now he saw shadows touching him, putting him on a stretcher. It was the doctors trying to get him back. He was listening to voices now. "Acute myocardial infarction", they said, "He was lucky that at the time of his fall, no train hit him".
The man who spoke to him all this time was right next to him. "You have to get into your body now, or whatever they do, they will do nothing", he said, and he touched his shoulder. "Hold on, Peter, isn't it your name? Peter. Wait, my friend, listen to what I'm going to say. We never know when our last moment, our last breath in life, will be, so maybe we should say, 'I Love you and Goodbye', every day, to the people we love. Do not leave the world without saying what you feel and doing what you dream of. Only then will the soul be calm and happy. Life gave you another chance. Don't waste it. You got so close to death, it was time to appreciate life. Change your life. Don't waste a minute on things without substance".
"Thank you. Although I didn't know who the collector is".
The man smiled. "It's okay. So you didn't meet him, I guess it's not your time yet to meet him. After all, we all see him when we cross the other side. Don't rush to meet him, you'll have an eternity with him. Live the best you can. Fight for you. Love yourself, love people. Live while it's time. Go now".
When he entered his body, he came back almost immediately. He couldn't talk yet, but his eyes were open. He was on the marble floor of the subway, with the doctors around him. Too many people had gathered to see what happened, even his colleagues. He was not alone, he was never alone. Even Sonia, who had called her, was there, maybe she'd finally heard him, on that phone call. He didn't remember much, his memory was empty enough. He only remembered that he had left work the night before, and during the time he was waiting for his train, he felt an acute pain in the heart.
He stayed in the hospital for two weeks. His near-death experience, he was remembering it as a dream, though it wasn't. But the dead man's advice was kept as the most precious treasure. Once he fully recovered, he quit his job at the bank. He followed a childhood dream, buried for many years deep in his soul. The obligations, the routine and the constant desire for more and more money, made him forget it. So far. He became an actor, he had talent. A repressed talent that suddenly surfaced. He had enough money, and as an actor he earned more than the love of the people. He started traveling all over the world as much as he could. And he started helping people who needed it. As much as he could. It helped people who wanted to get out of the routine and make their lives more beautiful and more creative.
He lived his life as best and as qualitatively and as beautifully as he could, ignoring whether he was doing the wrong or the right things. It's life after all, it's all experiences. He created beautiful memories, working only for himself, and actually lived for many years, lived all the way up to his deep age. That was right. That's why we come to life. To live. Don't waste a minute on things without substance. Live as beautiful as possible and reach as many dreams as you can. Life is moving forward. Live. Break the rules.