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The Mild Adventures of Jim

A portrait of the modern world

By Alejandro ArangoPublished 2 years ago Updated 11 months ago 7 min read
Render by Manu Prasad

It's 6:00 AM, the buzzing of Jim's alarm takes him away from dreams and peace. He takes a deep breath, and sighs, a sigh that can only come from being resigned to his fate, and knowing that this day will be the same as the day before. He grabs his phone from the night stand, thumbing through social media feeds, and whatever news articles that seem halfway interesting. He sets his phone back down on the charger. Next to his phone is a portrait of him and his now ex-wife. It's been three years since the divorce, they weren't married very long, only a year and a half. It was a fiery, passionate love that only can come from two people being almost identical in the way that they communicated with each other, but very different in the traumas that they experienced in childhood. Well at least that's what Jim's therapist told him. Jim thought back to all the draft emails that he'd written her, but was told by friends, family, and his own therapist never to send her. He made every attempt he could to understand what had led to the end of their relationship, he gave her plenty of attention, affection, and love. He had a job that afforded him the ability to take her on trips and great dinner dates. One day she handed him divorce papers out of the blue and said it was over. She didn't give much explanation in a way that would have given him catharsis or closure other than that she no longer felt love for him. That was the last time that he saw her and some part of his brain was still in shock over it all. Placing his hands over his face he whispered "enough" in a feeble attempt to quiet the tempest of emotions in his mind.

It was time for Jim to go to work, so he started the morning dance, he brushed his teeth, took a shower, and drank his morning coffee. He was going to be late for work so he didn't have time to cook himself a balanced breakfast. The kind of balanced breakfast that nutritionists and fitness enthusiasts seem to suggest. He tells himself that one of these days he is going to get up early, and cook himself an amazing breakfast. For now an English muffin with a little bit of butter would have to suffice. Every morning he takes a long walk around the block to get to his car as parking is scarce in his neighborhood. Oddly enough this is probably one of the few moments of peace that Jim will feel throughout the day, taking a brisk walk with the cool morning air in his lungs, but he's far too preoccupied with his thoughts to be aware of that. Traffic is terrible, a long line of shambling human beings also resigned to their fates fighting each other just to get to work. Jim works as a financial advisor, a profession that he didn't really want, but was recommended to him by his father. After all, pursuing a dream in the arts doesn't pay money so Jim chose the path of least resistance.

There's something ultimately Zen about being stuck in traffic, and for a second Jim's mind drifts off to images of sipping margaritas on a beach in the Bahamas. A soccer mom slamming her brakes in front of his car forces him to also slam his brakes, ripping him away from his fantasy. Normally he would shout and scream, but today he has come to accept the nature of morning traffic. The morning radio talk show hosts crack a joke that makes him chuckle a bit, and he thinks to himself "now that's a job that I would love to get in the car for". When Jim was a kid he was a bit of a class clown, he would tell jokes, and his classmates would laugh. He wanted to grow up to be a comedian, he even started taking drama classes, and creative writing courses in college. The arts do not pay reverberated in his mind again. After what seems like ages he pulls off the exit ramp and arrives at the office. It's mostly empty, the pandemic had made it so most employees didn't have to come into work anymore, and they all worked from home. Jim however decided that working from home was not good for him considering it was the home that he had shared with his ex wife. Like an orchestra composer he starts the the composition of his work day. He sets down his binder with all his paperwork, turns on his computer, and starts thumbing through his files of his most recent clients; Jim is very good at his job. One hour becomes two, 2 hours become five, and eventually the work day is over.

The drive home is mercifully short in the late hours. Jim places his car key down on the countertop of his kitchen, this is the marker that the day is over for Jim. He can now sit down, and enjoy a few hours of peace before the quiet desperation of the next day sets in again. He watches the evening news as he has to appraise himself of what's going on in the world, but it's the same news as in the morning, talks of war on the horizon, some new virus that threatens the status quo, and a few niceties at the end. He thumbs through one of those delivery apps on his phone, and orders a pizza. "I should probably be eating better" he tells himself, but the allure of the pictures on his phone draw him in, hot cheese dripping off the sides of a slice of welcoming pepperoni pizza. His lizard brain acting faster than his rational brain sends a lightning quick impulse to his finger and he clicks the "order now" button. In less than 30 minutes a young man rings his doorbell, and sets the pizza box down on Jim's porch, the young man then smiles at the doorbell camera and waves. Jim watches the young man finish his labor and walk off into the darkness of the night. He does all of this from the comfort of his smartphone app that's linked to the camera on his doorbell. After the threat imposed by this stranger is gone, Jim opens the door and grabs his prize. During Jim's brief marriage he purchased a long dinner table, and hosted a few dinner parties for his neighbors. Now the same dinner table almost seems like a grave in comparison to those memories. He of course sits at the head of the table, king of the castle, master of his domain, and opens the pizza box. The pizza is cold, and looks absolutely nothing like the pictures he was salivating over earlier, adding another insult to the injury imposed by the dinner table.

After dinner he sits back down at the couch, and his mind drifts off. He starts thinking about those draft emails that he would like to send to his ex wife. Every word carefully weighed and calculated to win her back. He pictures them holding hands again, and loving each other. Unbeknownst to Jim his ex wife has found somebody through one of those dating apps that truly gets her. His name is Ricardo, he has washboard abs, is 15 years younger than her, and doesn't speak a word of English. Jim is also thumbing through a dating app however he finds himself completely bored with every single profile he comes across. Looking for a serious relationship one profile states however all the pictures are provocative, suggesting something far more casual. His inbox is just as depressing, full of ads for erectile dysfunction, and sex robots asking for money. These dating apps are nonsense he tells himself and tosses his phone back down across the couch. He begins the evening ritual of going to bed. He brushes his teeth, drinks a glass of water, takes an ibuprofen for the lingering headache he has, and changes into his sleeping shorts. After this dance is over he sets his phone down on the charger, and gets into bed. He takes one last look at the portrait of him and his wife. He remembers a joke one of the morning radio talk show hosts made about his own ex wife, something about moving on. He makes a decision in that moment, possibly changing the fabric of his own reality to flip the portrait down. "I don't want to look at her anymore, tomorrow I'm going to wake up early and cook myself a balanced breakfast" he tells himself as he drifts off into sleep. It will be the most restful night of sleep Jim has had in three years.

Short Story

About the Creator

Alejandro Arango

A theater major, a poet, and a lover of the written word. I write to the muses that they may inspire me, and to you the reader. Hopefully you can find meaning in my words or something that will lighten your heart on this journey of life

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