Sean woke up in the morning with an aching back. He let out a groan as he slipped out of bed, the heavy duvet holding him as if in protest.
‘Shit,’ He muttered as his back woke with a little pin-pricking pain.
Another groan, a bit of a stretch, a little look around the small pale room, he dragged himself to the bathroom to freshen up for the day.
He has to take himself again to his 7 am to 6 pm job. Life in New York City is sucking the life out of him; he could feel it. It was a life that kept you on your toes every morning – you hate it, but in a way, you depend on it.
Sean had tried a quiet life before. He moved to Pittsburgh last year, hoping to escape the soul-wrenching bustles of the big city. He believed he would enjoy life more, and he would be more at peace. A few months later, he was feeling as if the slow pace of experience in the smaller city was suffocating him, the lack of excitement and bustles found in the big city made him shrink.
He had just moved back to New York City. He figured that no matter how tough life was in the city, he enjoys it in a bizarre, sad way.
The steam shower covered the little mirror in his bathroom with foggy steam, he wiped it out with his hands, opened his teeth wide to check – his dentist had always reminded him to check every time after brushing his teeth.
A black man in the big city, life moved at a fast pace. He would pretend not to notice the suspicious glare cast by an old white woman in his neighborhood, the subtle shield of her purse made him angry, but he had to keep his cool. You could yell at her, and she’d call the police on you for attempted robbery. If he got angry this morning, that could spell bad luck for the rest of the day; he always believed that the rest of your day borrowed a cue from how well or bad your morning went.
She sighed hard, walked past her; he had to grab the bus to town, his car broke down just a day ago, feels like he was on a wicked punishment.
‘Ethan, come here’. Another lady called out to her young son in the bus stop. A little boy, no more than twelve, he played and jumped without care, occasionally flashing cute smiles at Sean.
‘Okay, Mom,’ he answered with protest written on his face.
Sean watched her clutch the boy like a mother hen would shield her chicks in the presence of danger – He knew he was the kite, and the mother hen was shielding her young chick from him.
‘Fuck these people!’ He cursed under his breath
The bus arrived a bit late, the lady had moved on after some minutes, another black man joined them, and she couldn’t hide her misplaced fear any longer. Sean exchanged a glance with the new black man who had come to the bus stop; he laughed, almost like they had made a silent joke at her expense.
‘Good shit brother,’ The man remarked as Sean boarded the bus. He cast an approving smile back at the kind stranger, solidarity was born at that instance, they both understood what they had to put up with every day as black men living in America.
‘Jesus Sean, you look terrible,’ Annecia remarked.
Sean pulled himself into the office, his face a little bit swollen, no smile in sight. His back still ached, and the coffee tasted terrible this morning, maybe that is just him.
‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘I am okay, Annecia,’ he coldly said, walking towards his cubicle.
‘You don’t look okay,’ She protested.
‘But, I am’
‘Uh-uh. You are not,’ She insisted. ‘You come in here, all slouched, swollen face, eyes as pale as hades, and you say you are alright?’
Sean dropped into his chair in his cubicle. It was slightly uncomfortable. He always thought it was due for a change. Annecia had followed him; she was never the kind that gave up on an inquiry even when they dated, he always admired that kind side of her.
‘Sean, talk to me, what is wrong?’
Sean sighed. Wiped his face with both his palm and breathed out heavily again.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I just feel terrible. My soul feels like it is in prison,’ He replied.
‘That’s what New York City does to you,’ Annecia remarked.
‘I know. But, lately, it seems like mine has been turned up a notch,’ Sean replied. ‘I feel like the very life is leaving my body. Am I even living Annecia?’
She looked at him questioningly.
‘Have you see a Doctor?’
‘You know, therapy and shit,’ She said.
‘No. Why?’ He asked.
‘Perhaps they can help get your mind right.’
‘Yo, that’s bullshit. What’s a bunch of therapists gonna do for me except take my money and talk a lot of crap?’
‘I hear they help.’
‘So, what are you going to do then?’ She pressed on.
‘I need a break, or I am going to lose it.’
‘Where do you want to go?’
Sean froze. He never thought about it yet. He has been to the Caribbean, to Dubai, and even Italy, it all ended in you feeling even more terrible when you come home. People would assume you had mad fun from the pictures you posted on your social media handles, beaming smiles that reflected nothing of your spirit.
He closed his eyes for a bit. For a moment, there he was blank. He knew his spirit needed to be re-centered. He knew the break he needed was one that would cater to his spirit as much as it did his body.
‘I am going to Africa,’ He revealed.