FICTION: Stop Being So Dramatic

Group of people dancing in public

Photo: Nadim Merrikh

“I don’t want a promotion, I just want to write. But I could still use the raise,” I said.

“Hm, not quite what I expected, but I’d be glad to do that,” said Margaret. She moved her hands from a steeple under her chin to put them palm-down on the table. “I guess that settles it. Thanks for coming in!”

“You know what?” I said. “Actually, I think I’d rather not work. But if you could just mail my cheque every month, that’ll be great.”

“Hm. Now that’s something I’ll have to look into.”

I leaned forward, my own hands gripping the edge of her desk. I tried to calm my pacing heart. Was this it? “Are you telling me you won’t do it?”

“No, it’s just that we haven’t sent cheques in the mail for years now. Maybe we could bank it in?”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake, Margaret! Of all the people, I’d have thought you would’ve been the one.” I stood up—my chair sliding back a couple of feet—then stormed out of the room, slamming the door shut behind me.

Margaret’s secretary started at the sound, then smiled when she realised who it was. I gave her the middle finger.

“Have a nice day, Clint,” she said.

“Fuck you.”

It’s hard to believe that I’d gone from being an average cubicle-dweller to a shit-stirrer in just a matter of hours. But my suspicions needed testing, and I wasn’t exactly liking what I was discovering. I had barely pressed the elevator button when a voice stopped me from behind.

“Clint!” it said, a man’s voice. “There you are. Jimmy and I are going for lunch, maybe have a couple of drinks. You interested?”

It was Tony, the company CEO. Well, if anyone in this office could confront me, it’d be him. But how did he even know my name? No time for that. Let’s spark some drama.

“No. You’re a bore, Tony,” I said. “And drinking at this hour?”

His brow furrowed, eyes narrowing. “Well…” he began.

Good, I thought, unleash your fury.

“Maybe you could help me correct that? You know what? Screw lunch with Jimmy. Let me take you out for a nice meal. Pick your brains a little.”

I sighed, growled maybe. “Oh come on.”

The elevator arrived and I rushed in first. I repeatedly tapped the close button but Tony stuck his hand between the doors. “No,” I said, “you get on the next one.”

“So you mean we’re not doing lunch?”

The only reply he got was a blank stare before the elevator doors slid in between us. I let out the breath I was holding. It didn’t matter what I thought. Trying to be an asshole was still a taxing job.

The elevator lurched downwards and I used the ride to think up my new plans for the day. There had to be something I could do. But it seemed that the more drastic my actions, the better the world treated me.

It was weird how everything seemed normal until I decided to say no to Jimmy dumping all his work on me again. I’d tolerated that asshole for years, and all it took was a simple no. He even said sorry before leaving.

All my life I thought I was like everyone else, content with where I was, never bothering to stand up for myself, not knowing that there was this whole other side to life. And I was about to see how far this rabbit hole went.

I reached the lobby and strode right to an ATM. Maybe I could go on a holiday. I wouldn’t need to pack, just ask for the clothes off someone’s back if I had to. Yeah, that sounded like a great plan.

I walked right to the front of the queue and cut in line right as the guy left the booth. I struggled to slide my card into the slot, my hands shivering and all, but no one said a word. I turned around, just to make sure, and sure enough, the lady behind me just smiled.

The machine spat out my cash and I didn’t even budge as I slowly counted the bills. Then I wondered if I’d even need the money.

I went out, hailed a cab, told the driver I wanted to go to Amsterdam. He said okay and actually began driving. I told him I wanted to go to India instead. He nodded. In the end, I relented, asking him to take me to the nearest coffee shop.

I paid for the coffee at least. Things seemed normal if I didn’t kick up a fuss, but the moment I sought to create some drama—any drama at all—people would bend backwards just to accommodate me.

What weird world was I living in? Had this always been how life was? But then, what about the fights I used to see people get into? It seemed like everyone else had the fortune of feeling drama. Everyone except me. Lucky assholes.

I stared out the window towards the bank across the street, looking as people went about their day. I could walk right up to them and ask for their wallet, and they’d never even know of this anomaly among them.

That’s it.

Maybe I could rob the bank. And I don’t mean just waltzing in and asking for cash either. I could try to hurt someone. Surely, that would land me in some trouble? I walked to the nearest departmental store to shop for a weapon.

It was scary, the thought of hurting someone. What was I even thinking? No one deserved to be hurt, especially just to prove a point. But what excuse would somebody have to avoid a confrontation then? I was robbing a bank too. Surely, I’d be charged for felony at least? Or is the entire world just going to let me go scot free?

I couldn’t find a departmental store, but I saw a hardware store and went in instead. It’d have to do for now. What was I looking for, a steering lock? No, maybe a knife. That would land me in more trouble. Yes, a large knife.

I walked over to the cooking section and tried to walk around a woman browsing the knives as well. She seemed to take up the entire aisle, oblivious to other people. If anyone should be hurt, it would be her. I pushed her aside so I could pass.

“Hey!” she yelled.

“Watch your space, lady,” I said.

“No, you watch your space.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“What did you say?”

“I said—” then it dawned on me. I felt the corners of my mouth rise and continued, “I said fuck you, you bitch.”

She must’ve came to the same conclusion as well, because I saw the way her eyes lit up, and I heard the tone in her voice, much lighter than what her words suggested: “Yeah? Well you can fuck off too, mister.”

And we spent the next few minutes cussing each other out, two peculiar people, just for a moment, feeling what it was like to be normal.

#

This post was written for the Reddit writing prompt titled: All good stories need conflict, but your whole life has been abnormally peaceful. Everyone agrees with you and would never fight you, people always say yes, and you live comfortably in a town with perfect weather. Yet you are tired of it all. You would do anything for drama.

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