Quitting Life

in quittinglife •  last year 

This is my entry for and the place where you can join the contest --> Finish the Story Contest - WEEK #18

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First part written by @calluna

She picked up a resignation form today. She had been thinking about it for a while, handing in her notice, taking her last year. Every day is just the same, different faces, different flavours, but underneath, it was all the same. Was there any point in the endless forward march, the slow decline into ill health, unemployment and poverty? She didn’t have children, no friends who came to visit, and it was at least three years since her last match.

She sat on the corner of her single bed, in her single room, the thin long window illuminating the bare floor. She pushed a loose strand of mousy blonde hair behind her ear, and picking at her thumb, she wandered in thought.

She could travel, she could see the ocean, she could stand beneath trees, she could sit in silence. For one year. It was as good as it got, some people only got 6 months. But was she ready?

She couldn’t keep going, not like this. She had seen the lifers, the people who worked for 65 years and collapsed, decrepit, into the hands of hapless, half-hearted “help”. She had even been that half-hearted, hapless help, she had worked for minimum wage, clearing up bodily fluids, spoon feeding, doing what she could, but it destroyed you, seeing all your future had to offer.

A lot of people who worked there handed in their notice; you had to do it between 40 and 55 to get the year. Some people applied for special circumstances after 55, but generally they got less time.

She was 47. A lot could change in her life still. She could meet someone, she could have children, grandchildren, she could grow old. Couldn’t she…? Did she want to? She turned it over in her mind. She had accepted a lot in her life, but she just couldn’t face the rest of her life, playing out, day by slow dragging, hardworking, lonely, day. Night after empty, starless night. If she took her year, she could get away from the cities and their thick rank pollution. She could escape the crush of the masses, the regimented flow of preoccupied people. Her parents took her to a forest once, before the regulations changed, and closing her eyes, she could almost hear the hushed whisper of branches, almost feel the dappled sunlight on her upturned face. Almost. She opened her eyes, was there ever really any question? She had dreamed of it for as long as she could remember, and in that moment, she realised, she was always going to quit, it was never a question of did she want to, just when. Was she ready?

She flopped back onto her bed, bouncing back against the overly springy mattress. Relief coursed through her. She was going to quit, maybe not today, but she would do it. The digital display in the wall flashed, green numbers ticking over, 23:00. Instinctively, she felt around her bedside tablet, and pressing the button, retrieved her small blue pill. Blue before bed, white before work. It dissolved on her tongue, and she felt the thoughtless relaxation wash over her.

The next morning, she woke before her alarm had chance to rouse her. She stood at the window, watching the constant ebb and flow of people and traffic, the living city beneath her never slept. Her resolve had only hardened overnight, it felt right. She retrieved the form. She would quit. She would take the year. One good year, then call it quits.

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My, @tristancarax, contribution:

It was time to go to work. The form was filled out. She put it in an envelope, sealed it, and put it into her workbag. The timer went off. Out of habit, she grabs a white pill, puts it in her mouth and gulps down a glass of water. She skips out the door.

Outside of her apartment on the street, there is a white van parked at the curb. The men inside see her come out the front door. They get out and greet her. "Millie. You need to come with us this morning before reporting to work."

"Is there something wrong?" She asks because these are the type of men that take the penniless workers to the boss to have a "talk." She had a couple of friends who never came back after going to see the boss. She and the neighborhood were told they took their vacations. They never returned after the year was up. She and the neighborhood were told about the wild place beyond the secure borders, about the privilege they lived in, and about what may have happened to the others who left the safety of the group.

The boss, whose desk and chair is on a raised platform so that he may look down on the people in front of him, smokes a cigarette. Letting out the smoke he just inhaled, smoke rings form from the circle of his lipsas he pulsates his vocal cords open and shut. One ring gets enveloped by another. "Isn't it amazing the way that smoke acts? So fascinating when it disappears before our eyes. Have a seat."

She sits down on a create. There isn't anything else for one to sit down on. It sent a chill running up her spine. "Is there, err... a problem?"

"Only when I hear the utterance "err." It’s like you’re expecting something bad to happen when all I want is a friendly chat with you. It was brought to my attention that you have picked up your resignation form yesterday. Is this correct?" She nods her head in approval. "Wonderful! It is going to be sad to see you go. You have been such a fine worker bee. When would you like to go?"

"Today, if possible."

"Today." He strokes his beard. "It is arranged then."

"Really? That is all. I am free to go?"

"Yes. Yes, you are. Have a good journey." He puts out the cigarette in the ashtray on top of the desk. "Security will escort you out. Take care."

She got up and left. Security knocked her over the head with a flashlight as soon as she was out the door.

When she came to, she looked around. Where was she? Why was she in a straight-jacket with a lone safety pen sticking out of the sleeve. A safety pen? Looking around, she sees she’s in a glass room. A sign on the wall reads, "This is what happens when you leave the hive!"

Looking through the glass, she can see the over-sized reptilian creatures staring back at her with their hungry eyes.

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Ahh I love this, a totally unique twist - you can't beat a good reptilian overlord! The idea that the option is purely for show is a great touch, to keep their little people hive ticking over. My mum always used to say, give people a choice and they will agree to all sorts of things (she mainly used that to get us to do things like put our seat belt on - do you want to do it or should I do it for you?) I also enjoy how closely monitored the little regime is, she didn't even need to deliver the form for them to come for her. The people disappearing under questionable circumstances is a good device to explain the human disconnect. A very enjoyable ending!

It just seemed to me like that is where the story was headed to where I took it when you wrote about the place being sealed because of something happening x amount of years ago. Reminds me of a movie I can't name right now.

I'll have to remember your mother's saying.

I like the fact that you refused to be subject to the binary imprinting implicit in the first half of the story. This shows a critical lively mind and strikes one of the main points of the contest. Well done!

I liked the pill thing. It reminded me of keeping one under control, but it doesn't always work as one might need a larger dose after a while. The seed was planted in her long ago by the memories she kept so it could be possible to say, "You know what? Fuck this place." 8-)

Nice twist at the end! A bee who doesn't work anymore, is no longer useful for the hive

They are so sick they cannot simply let her go. They got to play games. What a world!

Week #19 emerged from the shadows.. good luck, brave storyteller!