Drift On, the Hours by Ryan Lee Liu

Drift On, the Hours

At 7:00, I woke up ready. I bathed until I was cleaner than ever before. I brushed my teeth until they gleamed. I shaved until my skin was smoother than a baby’s. I combed my hair until not a strand was loose. I dressed neater than a man on his wedding. I ate more than a boy on his birthday. I looked out of the window. All that I saw looked magnificent. I walked outside, and everything was perfect.

At 8:00, I waited for the bus. The air was cool. The sun was bright. The breeze smelt beautiful. The clouds looked puffy. Nobody waited with me. I had lots of room. Lots of time. Lots of things to call sublime.

At 9:00, I arrived at work. Right on time. I arrived before anyone else. I switched on the lights. I turned on the appliances. I made coffee for everybody, for when they came. I sat at my chair and typed at my computer, but nothing needed typing. I picked up the phone and made calls, but nobody needed calling. I leaned back in my chair. I wondered where I could go.

At 10:00, I had my break. I ate, drank and used the restroom. I looked in the mirror, and saw a strand of hair come loose. I patted it back down. I smiled. I winked at myself. It felt good. My break wasn’t too long, in case someone needed me. But, it wasn’t too short, as nobody needed me.

At 11:00, I had no more work. I made work for myself. I cleaned the floors. I scrubbed the tables. I dusted the cabinets. I sorted the files. I switched off the lights. I turned off the appliances. I washed everybody’s coffee cups. I stopped when there was nothing to do.

At 12:00, I went to a restaurant. I sat at a table by the window. All I saw looked different. I poured myself a glass of water. I drank all of it. I poured myself glasses until the bottle was empty. I drank all of them. I called over the waiter. He never came. I tipped him anyway.

At 1:00, I called my friends. None of them picked up the phone. I called their house phones. None of them were home. I sat listening to the dial tone.

At 2:00, I missed the bus. I didn’t make any fuss. I waited for another. I waited until I saw that there was not another. I didn’t stand up. I sat motionless, but nothing around me stood still. The clouds rippled, but only slightly. The trees swayed, but only lightly. The leaves fell. One by one. Not with the timbre of autumn. No. With the rust of winter.

At 3:00, I decided to walk back. I passed closed stores and busy, silent streets. On went the chatter of thousands, but not a word was ever said. I tried to say something. I tripped and bit my tongue. It didn’t bleed. It muted my tears. I didn’t stop walking. I strode faster. But, I couldn’t avoid myself. I saw my reflection in a window. I waved at it. It didn’t wave back. I told it to get lost. It stayed. I asked it politely. It grew bigger.

At 4:00, I stopped at a park. I watched as the swings swung. I saw nobody upon them. I tried to sit on them. I was too big to swing. I stood up. They remained still. I ran up the slide. I became stuck on the way down. I tried hopscotch. One jump and I met its end. I sat on the seesaw. I tried to lift myself. I tried and tried. Each try, I fell further down.

At 5:00, I went to the theatre. The popcorn machine popped. At a glance, it had stopped. I told it that it had done a good job. I told it that everybody likes popcorn, but there are a million machines just like it, maybe more. It said nothing. I excused myself. I didn’t mean to insult it. I patted it, filled it with salt, and told it life will go on. It never replied. I made myself a bucket of popcorn. It didn’t taste the same. I went to see a film. I sat in a chair; it was broken. I sat in the next; it was soaked. I sat in another; it didn’t feel right. I watched the film. I looked for who to laugh with. There was nobody. I laughed by myself. It didn’t feel funny. I left without seeing the end. I already knew it. I saw it coming from the moment it started.

At 6:00, I arrived home. I looked in the mirror. I didn’t see my reflection. I looked out of the window. All I saw looked like a crime. I ran around my house. I tore the sheets. I ripped my books. I smashed the television. I broke the phone. I pummeled the alarm clock. I kicked the walls. I punched the door. I howled until it all fell apart. But, none of it left. It all stayed. The sheets still covered. The books still read. The television still watched. The phone still heard. The alarm clock still blared. The walls still surrounded me. The door was still shut. My eyes still remembered.

At 7:00, I found myself in bed. No better than the dead.


Drift on the hours


Ryan Lee Liu sits beneath a bow in the sky, watching the planes go by.


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Image (modified) Shane Kell Pexel Licence