Dedicated to everyone reading this right now. I couldn't have done it without you.
The day I stopped worrying about paint colors, broken appliances, going to work, and doing laundry was the best and worst day of my life. On one hand, I didn’t have to worry about anything anymore. On the other, well, I didn’t have to worry about anything.
There’s a certain pleasure in worrying about the day’s menial activities that no one realizes is there until it’s not. What was that saying? ‘You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s never coming back?’ Worrying is a part of keeping the world together, being human, having something that makes it all worth it. It was something I had spent a lot of time thinking about. That, and how little sense it all made. And there was nothing like a leap off of the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower to confuse that thinking all over again whenever I got bored.
A never-ending life leads to a lot of boring moments.
I knew there wasn’t much that was worth it for me anymore, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
Every morning, the big red numbers of my old alarm clock were like a lover I’d never wanted but just couldn’t get rid of, waking up across from them every morning, ugly and wishing they would just disappear. They screamed at me every day, first thing, a bad reminder of it all. Though it could have been worse. It could have actually been an ugly, unwanted lover.
They were still occasionally just as jarring as they were that second morning, the day I realized what was going on, so long ago when the date stopped changing. It was never over. It would never end.
Being dramatic had become a way of life. It was survival.
7AM. June 7th. The beginning of another same day.
I sat up, like always, wearing absolutely nothing. The light was slow in coming through the curtains because it was a cloudy morning, but I knew that it would turn into a blistering sunny day in just a few hours.
My sheets were dark purple and a wrinkled mess from a restless night’s sleep I hadn’t felt since before, but they were soft and comfortable. I wrapped the top sheet around me and stood up. There were clothes on the floor, mine, that I would never again bother to pick up, or even wear. Out in the living room, cups and plates and other bits of random trash that come from hosting a party littered my then new furniture, reminders of a night I could no longer really remember. It had been my house warming party, friends and friends of friends celebrating my new apartment with me. Mostly people I hadn’t seen in a long time. In my now, not my before. The only thing I ever bothered to put right was a chair at my kitchen table that was knocked over and lying on its side; it was my only regular rebellion against a mess I could do nothing about. Thankfully all of the food still left out on the counters never began to smell.
I’d mentally lost track early on, but while it still appeared to be 2015 outside my window and inside my apartment, with the honking cars down in the street and people walking in jeans on the cracked pavement of the sidewalks and my brand new microwave oven my poor cooking skills were proud to have, it should really probably have been closer to 2070, or maybe 2080, or maybe even further into the future. I probably should have been dead, for as long as I’d technically been alive. There was no way for me to be absolutely sure, though.
Many times I’d imagined the flying cars and excessive chrome and entitled children that the future should’ve brought.
After that amount of time, not even a name meant much of anything. It was a blessing and a curse for me that I could be whoever I wanted, called whatever I wanted. Every name came with a different identity, like I was acting out a part in a play that was my life. Becky was my favorite personality to put on, maybe because she was nothing like the person I was before. That’s who I decided to be most days, and who I was going to be today.
As I got dressed in a low cut shirt and tight jeans, I caught the reflection of my 28 year-old body in my bathroom mirror. Part of me, in my head, expected to see a slumped over, gray-haired, wrinkled version of myself, the one I should’ve been if I’d ever lived to be that old. But then I’d put that image out of my head the best I could. Thinking of what could’ve been, what should’ve been, was painful. And there was no point.
Most days I’d go out and find something to eat for breakfast; I’d eat while in an airport terminal waiting for a plane, or go to a part of town I hadn’t been to recently and pick the first open restaurant I came to. I didn’t have much to eat in my apartment, other than leftovers from the party, and when you’ve been seeing the same food sitting around for a lifetime, it doesn’t seem to sit right in your head, whether or not it’s actually bad. But today I had somewhere I needed to be soon, and I couldn’t have a growling stomach to ruin it. And being late or early would only screw things up. My time was always limited, sometimes more than others, but always limited. It was like a game, almost, the clock always ticking down.
There were blueberry bagels in the fridge, but no cream cheese or butter, so I pulled one out and ate it plain and quickly. Nothing more than sustenance. Much like everything else that was either edible or drinkable in my apartment. The bowls of half stale chips on the island, the half drunk alcohol bottles, nothing to really tempt me. It was almost like a strange and disgusting decor choice. Early on I’d been bothered by it, my new apartment being a mess. One time I attempted to clean it all up, even. I felt pretty good about it for the rest of that day, until the next morning and it was all back again.
With all of the time I’d had, being anything remotely in the vein of a hermit was an option that got obliterated off the face of the earth by a nuclear bomb. Spending too much time by myself was a great way for me to go crazy. Solitary confinement took on a whole new meaning.
Anyone who worked in the shops or restaurants or other buildings within a few block radius of my apartment, as well as a good number of the other people who just happened to be in the vicinity of those places at any given time throughout the day, were known by me in some capacity. For some people, I knew their name, maybe their age, their reason for being wherever they were at that moment. Jeffery at the flower shop two streets down was in there around opening time to buy his girlfriend some flowers as he got off his night shift at the hospital. Petunia was in the sandwich shop on the corner in the afternoon because she was supposed to be meeting an old friend from high school who doesn’t show up. Terry jumped in front of a cab and somehow managed not to get hit three blocks south that night because his ex-girlfriend who stole his dog was in the back seat.
It’s not such a small world when you know something about everyone. There turns out to be a lot more people than you’d ever thought.
What’s worse is when none of them remember you the next day.
The people on my street directly outside my apartment building were probably the best known to me, though. Of course they were. Why wouldn’t they? I saw them the most often. For those first few months, walking outside of my apartment to see the same thing over and over, the people moving the same and doing the same things, was a bit jarring. It still could be. It was the reason I didn’t like to stay close to home.
I had fun at first, though, too. Just talking to someone would change the course of their day. For some people it was only a little, for others it was a complete change from the course they were on.
I stepped outside to the more than familiar scene.
There was Sally, walking by on the other side of the street. She was out for her morning walk with her daughter, Julia, in her stroller. Down at the corner, Julia would spit up her breakfast as they waited for the light to change, splattering some on Jonathan, a shirtless jogger I was always more than happy to look at. Because of the spit up, he’d almost stumble into traffic, but Linc, a business man who hated everything about his job but the paycheck, would grab him and pull him back just in time. One time I distracted Linc before he ever made it to the corner and there was no one to stop Jonathan from falling into traffic. Needless to say, I don’t bother Linc much anymore.
Nelly, a homeless woman with one leg, sat in her wheelchair a few doors down from where I stood on the sidewalk, half-heartedly watching the few people walking by in the early hours of the morning. When I needed a mood boost, I’d giver her a hundred dollar bill or a gold watch or something else extravagant. She always took it so gratefully, which always put a big smile on my face.
It was a crazy kind of power I had over all of those people. Over everyone. Just one thing that I did could and would take these people off the course they already had set for themselves. I watched it in motion almost every day. It could happen the same, or I could screw it all up. The strangest part of it, or one of the strangest parts at least, was that these people I barely knew, and who in reality didn’t know me at all, felt more like my family than my real family after all this time, even though I would occasionally take a trip to see them. I’d show up on their doorstep unannounced to their extreme confusion.
My power wasn’t a power I would wish on anyone.
I had to get going.
I looked down at my watch. Right on time, as it needed to be.
A few blocks down from my apartment was a sad little gun shop, rundown and kind of dirty with one sad slightly crazy man behind the counter that morning. His name was Jerry, and that early he was wary and a little tired because he was about to open and hadn’t finished his first cup of coffee yet. A part of me always felt just a little bad for going in and screwing with his day, mostly because he was one of the people that I messed with the most often. It’s hard not to feel for someone who doesn’t know what’s coming to them.
That shop was my usual gun supplier. Before, I would never have touched a gun, but the peaceful options in a life with no consequences and no end run out fairly quickly, and without point. Anyone I hurt isn’t actually hurt. They won’t remember. It will never have happened for them. They’d wake up tomorrow and be fine.
The first time I went into the shop, I didn’t exactly have a plan. I couldn’t just buy any guns. That takes time with licenses and cool off periods and all of that. I figured I would just wing it when I got in there. Even thinking that, I knew I would be in over my head. Looking back, I should have practiced somewhere else. Stealing things is an art form, and I’d had no business trying my hand at stealing weapons on my first ever try.
I’ll admit it; I panicked. Shortly after the store opened, I ran inside, broke the first case I came to, grabbed the first gun my hands could get around, and ran out. I hadn’t counted on Jerry chasing me down. I hadn’t even known his name at the time. I also hadn’t counted on the cops who’d just stopped their cruiser around the corner to get some coffee.
That was also the first day I’d ever spent in a jail cell.
Since then, I’d found out that I needed to go into the shop before it opened, and before those cops parked around the corner. I had about fifteen minutes before I needed to be out of there and gone.
The front door was unlocked, even though the shop wasn’t actually open yet. Poor Jerry, making a simple mistake like that.
I walked inside, stopping only briefly to let my eyes adjust to the dingy light. The panels covering the bulbs probably hadn’t been washed since they’d been installed. Jerry was in the back corner, turning the lights on in the last display. He looked up as I came in, his face reading plainly that he had no idea what I was doing there.
“We’re not open yet,” he said, turning back to the display, as if him just saying that was enough to make me leave. Even so, I knew he’d taken in my apparel by the way he stood up a little straighter and tried to suck in his beer gut. I was only able to hold in my laugh by putting on my brightest smile and jumping onto the counter and sitting in front of him.
“What’re you doing?” he asked.
“You have a phone I could use?” A perfect blend of innocence and smiles.
“Sure. It’s in the back. Get off the counter.” He turned and headed right into the back room, no hesitation.
The case he’d been turning the light on in had been left unlocked in his hurry to help me, and it was the case I was sitting on. It was the case I usually took my guns from, which gave me a sort of limited amount of options, but I rarely needed extreme fire power. All I really had to do was slide open the glass door, reach inside, and grabs what I wanted, shove it all in my backpack, and close it all back up. But I didn’t touch a thing while I waited for him to come back. It would cause more problems than I needed. Patience.
He came back and handed me an old wireless phone that internally grossed me out just to touch, let alone put anywhere near my face. I dialed the number for an old cell phone sitting in a drawer in my apartment and pretended to leave a message to a girlfriend before hanging up and looking him right in the eye.
“So, how’s business?” I asked.
“Look, sweetheart, I need you to get off my counter and leave. We’re not open yet.”
I didn’t move a muscle. “You like working in a gun shop?”
“I own the place. Please get off my counter.”
“It must be such interesting work, the kinds of people you get in here…” I cringed inwardly at our conversation.
“They’re usually pretty normal, actually. Get off the counter and get out.” I could tell he was pretty close to shoving me off himself.
“That’s very disappointing. I always love meeting interesting people. You seem like you might be interesting yourself.” As I said it, I moved my legs around to his side of the counter, spread slightly, leaning forward so he’d have a better look at my chest. I could just see the bad decision making happening behind his eyes. He had a family I’d seen in pictures in his back room on a previous visit, and he tried to be a good guy, but just the small amount of temptation was too much for him.
His eyes flicked towards the front door before coming back to look me over.
“You don’t know the half of it, sweetheart.”
“Still want me to get off your counter? Because I kinda like it up here.”
He took a step closer, standing between my legs, which I wrapped around him to bring him closer and hold him there. With how he always reacted, it had to be some kind of fantasy of his, and he could never believe it was actually happening. Poor guy.
As his hands grazed my hips and he looked into my eyes, I brought the phone still in my hand up and hit him across the head as hard as I could. He dropped immediately, knocked out cold. By my estimation he was out for a couple of hours at least as a result of that blow, and I was always long gone by then. I was protected for as long as no one came into the shop, which wouldn’t even be an issue if I knew where the key to lock the door was. It didn’t matter, though. I wasn’t going to get caught. It had been a long time since I’d been caught for that particular crime.
I hopped down off the counter, careful not to step on him, and reached into the case. A couple of hand guns and a shotgun were my usual choices, and they’d work just fine for that day’s particular brand of fun. I grabbed a couple boxes of ammo for each of them, more than enough, and got out of there, calm and collected.
Because of the ‘been there, done that’ quality of home, I got in my car and drove for a few hours. The idea was to find a city, not too big and not too small. They’re a dime a dozen in this country, not at all hard to find. Finding a place I hadn’t been to before was the real challenge. It didn’t always matter to go somewhere I’d never been, but for what I had in mind, it was preferable. I’d explored the majority of the places within a few hours drive of my apartment, and many other places around the world. The parts I could reach before midnight, anyway.
I missed the name of the city as I got off the exit, mostly because I was paying more attention to the size of the buildings and the larger amounts of traffic than where I was. I’d still remember how I got there. It was something I usually remembered.
A few minutes of searching, even less than I’d been expecting, gave me exactly what I was looking for.
With my car parked nearby on the street, I stood on the sidewalk across the street looking around. I didn’t really need to take too many safety precautions, and it was an exceptionally hot June day. There was something off, though. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but there was something that just wasn’t right.
Right behind me was a sandwich shop. I decided to get some lunch and take a longer look to see if I could figure it out.
The regret I felt for sitting at a table outside the restaurant rather than inside it couldn’t have been higher. Sitting in the shade wasn’t any better than sitting in direct sunlight. The longer I sat there, the worse it got, and I was no closer to figuring out what was off. The feeling was still there, but I just couldn’t put words to it. My sandwich was delicious as a consolation, though.
I didn’t care anymore. I got up and threw away the sandwich wrapper and made my way through traffic across the street as I slung my backpack over my shoulder. It was almost a secret hope that I’d get hit by someone on their phone and not paying attention, or falling asleep in the middle of the day. Getting hit by a car was one of the things that I’d never done. They always seemed to miss me for one reason or another.
The inside of the bank was like pretty much every other bank I’d ever been in, the best of which meant that it was cold. Not only did it feel good after sitting outside for so long, but people were more alert in the cold. It made it all the more fun. The weird feeling was still there, but I was feeling good.
The small line for the tellers, the lobby full of people waiting to deposit or withdraw money, others sitting with bankers at their glass desks getting approved for loans or setting up accounts all seemed to welcome me in a strange way. It was a new chunk of the world I’d yet to step into, yet to experience. Those people and their movements, actions and reactions, emotions and lack thereof, were new to me, and I was about to exert my godliness upon them. Just part of Becky’s charm. I stepped in line behind a woman with three surprisingly well-behaved small children with a smile on my face.
Of the three children, the little girl, a perfect little blond doll in a purple dress, was the only to notice me. She looked up at me with big almond eyes and a shy smile as she wrapped her arms around her mom’s leg. I towered over her small form, but I smiled and waved down at her.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” she said back, her voice so small that I could barely hear her. The mother was busy talking to someone on the phone, so she didn’t even notice.
“What’s your name?”
“Becky,” she said as she leaned further into her mother’s jeans.
“That’s my name, too.”
She smiled and her entire face disappeared into her mom’s leg.
It was finally her mother’s turn to see a teller, and she stepped forward while hanging up her phone, shaking off the little girl and directing her kids in front of her. I waved to the little girl and then turned my eyes to the tellers.
I didn’t need the money, but it was time for some fun. It had been awhile since I’d felt the kind of power in store for me there.
A small red-headed teller who wasn’t hiding her distaste for her job waved me over once the older woman she’d been helping waddled off towards the doors. I shifted my backpack onto one shoulder as I walked over, reaching in like I was looking for my wallet.
“What can I do for you?” she asked, barely looking away from the computer at her station.
“Money, please.” It was something about that little girl and her siblings, still standing around their mom’s legs a couple of tellers over, that made me not want to go all guns blazing during this go.
“Of course, this is a bank,” she replied. It took her a moment to see the gun I had pointed at her.
“Money. Your whole drawer should be good. Minus the dye packs.” I held my backpack open for her with my other hand, a calm smile on my face. No one else seemed to even realize what was going on.
“Ugh, seriously? Why me?”
“Strange reaction, but okay,” I whispered.
She pulled bills from her drawer, some free, some packed together. I made sure she left the bottom blocks of money in the drawer, dye packs still intact. The first time I experienced that dye exploding in my face made me know I didn’t want to experience a repeat, even if it only happened by accident and I probably wouldn’t even open the bag after leaving the bank.
“Thank you,” I said as she threw the last bills inside. It had almost been too easy. Strike that. It had been too easy. Little Becky was still hugging her mom’s leg as I turned, but I would never hurt a child, no matter what.
I shoved the handgun into the back of my jeans and pulled out the shotgun as I closed the bag, cocked it and shot it upwards.
While not something I would recommend for daily consumption, there’s just something about watching an entire room of people move in sync. Almost at once everyone ducked downwards or fell out of their chairs and let out some kind of squeal. A beautiful synchronized performance.
“Nothing to see here, folks. Just stay down and out of my way, and you’ll be fine.” It had definitely been too easy. If I didn’t get to keep the money…
The scared looks on the faces of most of the people were exciting, though I made sure not to look in the direction of the kids. The normal me was never the kind of person that got kicks from scaring others, but for Becky, it was an interesting social experiment of sorts. I was on a stage looking out at an audience reacting to my actions. I was solely responsible for taking those people off their course for the day, ruining their routines or whatever. They were there with me now.
I could spot the ones who might like to try to take me on as I made my way to the doors, being a smaller woman and all. Those were the ones I pointed the shotgun at, each in turn. A bigger guy in a suit; a smaller man protecting his girlfriend or wife, I couldn’t tell; a tougher looking woman who might have known a thing or two about guns judging by the look on her face. As much as I didn’t want to shoot any of them, I would. They’d have been back in that bank again tomorrow, unharmed and unknowing.
With one last look, I stepped out into the hot sun again. The temperature change was so immediate that it was just as startling as the bright sun. I shoved the shotgun back into my bag next to the stacks of cash and hurried back across the street towards my car.
A smile broke out on my face that I just couldn’t contain. That had to have been the easiest robbery I’d ever pulled off. If I ever found myself in a situation that required more money than my healthy bank account and credit cards could provide for, highly unlikely as it was, I’d have to find my way back to that bank.
I was pulling my keys from the front pouch of my backpack as I reached my car when I realized I was being chased. Two guys in civilians clothes but with guns and badges yelling at me to stop were behind me, trying to get through the traffic I’d had such ease flowing through.
Without hesitation, I dropped my keys and took off. There was no way I’d have been able to get my car out of its parking spot and into traffic fast enough. I wasn’t in the best of shape, but it was nice to go for a run for a change, use my muscles. I hadn’t been chased in quite awhile, and it was one of the only reasons to break my chronic exercise laziness.
I made it halfway down the block and cut into an alley between a laundry mat and a small grocery store. Almost immediately I realized that I’d made a mistake. Just like that, it could be over. The alley was a dead end, not even a fire escape reachable by me. The cops, having made it through the cars, followed me down to the end, their guns raised, where I stopped and dropped my bag. The handgun was still sticking out of the back of my jeans and I pulled it out.
The cops stopped in their tracks at the sight of the gun. I held it up to my temple. So much for an easy robbery.
“No… Don’t do it…” said the taller cop, taking a creeping step towards me and holding out his hand.
“Nope.” I pulled the trigger.