I walked down the street to the consignment shop. I had been there so many times before. Trinkets and treasures could always be found. I was excited because today was thrifty Thursday and everything was 20% off. I stepped inside and went straight to the perfume bottles. I am a collector of bottles and I always like to find new items. I found a few that I liked and I greedily picked them up and put them on the cashiers counter for safekeeping. I wanted to take a wander around the store to see if there was anything else that I wanted.
As I eyed the room, which was filled with remarkable items, I saw something that caught my interest. It was a top hat with a red feather placed neatly upon its side. The striking red feather was a beautiful detail to the simple black top hat. As I made my way to the item a rush of persons entered the store. One of them went straight for the hat. To my dismay, the blonde gentleman picked the hat up and did not even take the time to consider anything before going straight to the cashier and purchasing it. I followed him longingly, wishing that he would only ask its price. But, alas, he bought the hat immediately and left in haste. Frustrated, I aimlessly followed the gentleman until he got to the exit of the store and I watched him leave with the hat that I now knew I had to have. No other hat would do, no replacement or look-alike, no substitute, no alternative, I had to have that hat.
I ran over to the gentleman as he approached his car, but by the time I got to him it was too late, he had already pulled out and begun to leave the parking lot. I ran back into the store and purchased the perfume bottles and left disheartened.
The next day I went to work as usual. I entered the building with my summer business attire and my comfortable, but impeccably good looking wedged heels. I carried my backpack purse with the entire universe in it and an indestructibly positive attitude. As I waited for the elevator I saw something red flash in the corner of my eye. I turned to look and there, standing pretty on the head of my coworker, was my beloved hat. I stared stunned. She stared back. I wanted to make some kind of conversation but my mouth was agape and I was too busy thinking about the hat. Finally, she politely asked how my day was going and I mustered up enough brainpower to reply that it had been a good morning. We got onto the elevator and made some small talk, all the while I am completely focused on the top hat with the distinctive red feather. She exited on the second floor and I rode the elevator to the third.
I sat down to, what I was sure was going to be a mundane day at work. I began my data entry, which progressed to checking and writing emails and making a few calls. I was completing some overdue paperwork when I realized that it was time for lunch. I stepped out of my cubicle and headed to the cafeteria. I grabbed some prepackaged sushi rolls and began to eat. I was taking the final bite when I looked to my left and saw the hat again! This time it was on the head of a charming Italian gentleman whom I had never seen before. I was looking so hard at the hat that I didn’t realize how strange I must have looked.
I was still staring intently at the hat as it began floating in my direction. In moments the Italian was sitting at my table staring right back at me, smiling, as I am sure that is what one does when they catch someone staring. Shocked, I almost fell out of my chair when he sat down. As he began to interrogate me on why I was staring at him from across the cafeteria. I quickly formed some type of excuse that I was daydreaming and he had happened to be in the line of my dreamy gaze. He smiled and made some awkward comment and apologized for being confused. We sat a few moments longer before I had to head back to the office.
As I walked back to the office, I couldn’t believe how this hat was haunting me. It seemed that it was everywhere that I went. I was so enamored and obsessed with the hat that I could not seem to shake it from my consciousness. I took the stairs to the third floor, thinking that the extra exercise would loosen the thought from my mind. As I got to the second flight of stairs I heard heels walking towards me. I looked up to see who was in the stairwell with me. And to my surprise and great dismay, a lovely woman in a dark pantsuit was walking towards me with the feathered top hat underneath her left arm.
This was ridiculous. Was the world simply passing my precious hat around? Was the universe trying to tell me that I was the only person that could not have the hat? I had to have that hat. I rushed past her embarrassed and frustrated. I ran to my seat and dove into my work completely immersing my conflicted emotions into my dull and drab data-entry. I must be dreaming. This can’t be real. This one of a kind hat, which I had never seen before, was now on everybody’s person. I promised myself that the next time I saw my hat, that I would ask the person, who had wrongfully taken it, where on earth they had got it from.
A tap on my shoulder woke me from my vengeful thoughts. I looked up to see my hat upon the head of my manager. My face flushed and the heat rose from my very core. Furious I stood to meet her gaze. She smiled, not seeming to be able to see my absolute and unadulterated anger. She asked me how it was going and I exploded.
“Everyone is wearing my damned hat. Everywhere I turn, another person is wearing, carrying, walking with my hat! Who the hell do they think they are and what the heaven-sent hell are they doing with my hat?!”
Stunned my manager looked at me and blinked. After some awkward staring, she asked me what on earth I was talking about. At that statement, I realized that surely this was some asinine joke that the universe was playing on me and that everyone was in on it. My eyes narrowed and all I could see was the hat. I was about to tackle my manager for the damned, forsaking hat when a coworker in the cubicle next to me stood up and put his hand on my shoulder.
‘What hat?’ He asked. I stared at him with daggers in my gaze, as he too was wearing the blasted hat. I let out a war cry as I went to rip the hat from his head. As I looked in my hand to see my prize, finally in the rightful hands, I saw that my hand was empty. I looked up and there were no hats on their heads, no hats in my hands, no hats to be found. My manager politely told me to "take a break" through clenched teeth.
How could this be? How could there be no hat? Where on earth were the hats, what on earth was going on? I crunched my face to concentrate and truly think this through. The lady who rode the elevator with me in the morning, who I saw wearing the hat, came walking past me. I stared in astonishment, as she too was not wearing the hat. I frowned, my brow furrowed and I began to interrogate her.
“Where is the hat that you were wearing this morning?” I demanded, “What did you do with it?”
“What hat?” She replied.
I growled and nearly leapt on her when suddenly, I realized how ridiculous this all was. She quickly exited the building, not looking back once.
After a long day, with very little work being completed, I went home. The hat seemed to be taunting me. I turned up the radio and tried to drown own the sound of my own thoughts.
THIS IS MY FIGHT SONG!
TAKE BACK MY LIFE SONG!
PROVE I’M ALRIGHT SOOOOOONG!
I am screaming over the radio when I pull up to a stop sign, on a quiet back road, when from the corner of the road in front of me I see an object fluttering across the road. An object that seems almost to scurry across the street as if it has legs. My eyes lock in on it. The damned hat, the distinctive red feather, it is right before my eyes. I throw the car in park and unhinge my seat belt. Falling out of the car, I struggle to get my balance and I begin chasing the hat across the street. It seems to just evade my grasp. I finally make a desperate attempt to dive for the precious thing and it dives into the woods. I jump to my feet and now I am running, sprinting through the woods, deeper and deeper, chasing the blasted thing, watching it spin faster and faster away from me, further and further from my grasp. The faster I run, the faster it goes, until finally, I fall to my knees in despair.
Two feet in front of me the hat falls to the ground.
“Why hat? Why would you torture me so?” The hat does not answer. “Why are you running from me? Why are you so content to occupy everyone else’s head?” Still no answer from the hat. “Please, please, please, just let me have you!” I begged. The inanimate object did not move.
I sat for hours, deep in the woods, wishing that the hat would just be mine.
Finally, after some deep sobbing and a sincere feeling of desolate emptiness, I stood up. I looked at the hat one last time and turned my back to it. I began to find my way through the woods to my car, which was still running. I climbed into my driver’s seat, buckled up, and began to drive home. I turned down my music and played some depressing news and listened as the world fell apart to the sound of the voice on the radio. I parked the car and reached for my backpack purse. I went inside and climbed the stairs with the sole focus to climb into bed and sleep the day’s events into oblivion.
I jumped into bed mentally and physically exhausted.
I awoke in the morning and reached for my glasses. As my fingers traced the various objects on the dresser, one foreign object stood as particularly unfamiliar.
I sat up to see a blur of red accompanied by a dark background.
The hat. The damned hat had found its way to my room.
I got out of bed and went to take a shower.