“…bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a flannel for my face. Pajamas…”
Bucky was far off in sleep, but noticed things were strange when the girl she was currently mounting, a stranger she saw on the way to work yesterday morning, started rigorously smearing Colgate all over her teeth with a thong. After Bucky wiped her face with a flannel, she realized what was happening. She could suddenly hear the lyrics in her dream, ending it, and instantly Bucky was snapped back to her laying body whose head immediately shot off the pillow, eyes already focusing on the time.
“Oh shit.” At 8:26 AM Bucky sprang out of bed while slamming the top of her bedside radio, saw some jeans on top of her worn clothes pile, and flung ‘em on. Snapped on a bra with an underwire sticking out from her left cup that she wouldn’t notice until half-way through her train ride to work—and practically dove into a t-shirt. Tennis shoes laced, bag, keys, phone, water and Bucky was out the door.
After hustling out of her brownstone and into the packed city streets, Bucky near sprinted to the metro a blur, or as every other pedestrian in town, and caught a seat next to a man with his face shoved into a right-wing newspaper.
“Fuck off.” She thought, glancing at the headline “outing” a celebrity as a follower of Islam. Finally in an idle position, Bucky relaxed in the seat as best she could against the rolling, hissing, and screeching metallic symphony. There was an art to finding peace amid the constant aggravations and noise, but Bucky was no artist.
“Ahh” she hissed, reaching for her boob. “Really? This fuckin’ bra?” Bucky wished she was back in her bizarre Squeeze dream—today sucked already.
At 58th she got off, lightly slapping the spread newspaper as she hustled past; not enough for the reader to notice, but a subtle fist-pump for herself. She glanced at her phone’s time, 8:59, and cursed at herself silently. She walked the 4 blocks at the same speed as everyone else and swiped in at 9:02 AM.
“Shit. 2 minutes, really?” Bucky’s company gave incentives for being punctual, but now it didn’t matter, Bucky was out of the running. The bra-wire cut into her skin again—Bucky was getting pissed.
Once she sat in her chair, tossed her bag to the ground, and started her computer, Bucky tossed her head over the neck rest. Arching her back ever-so-slightly hoping not to agitate the metal bra-dagger, Bucky slowly spun around.
“Why’s there gotta be time? What if there weren’t any? I wouldn’t need to work, I wouldn’t need money…2 fuckin’ minutes? Come on.” Bucky suffered in her head, trying to come to terms with her lost bonus day of pay while beating herself up over it.
“Hey neighbor!” Elijah sang as she nestled into his next-cubicle seat, “traffic bad this morning?”
“Oh ya know, like it usually is, walkin’. Everybody’s speedin’ somewhere, gotta deal with republicans on the subway, ya know. The struggle.” She shrugged, “Just woke up late. Lost my bonus day though.”
“Oh! You don’t drive, I forgot! How was your walk?”
“Fine.” She resigned, “And yours?” Bucky wondered if anybody ever paid any attention at all, or if his terrible listening skills were some way for Elijah to phone-it-in in hopes of reaching a sex-line. It was insulting. If people listened at all, if it wasn’t some weird way to assert their own existence without really listening or caring—they’d understand that these dumb talks are really just beat-around-the-bush conversations about time. Always time, and always wasted. On sex. Fucking men, ugh.
Bucky swiveled back to her screen in full-thought, Elijah mid-sentence, and punched her password still glancing at it taped to her screen while she typed. Tapped her shoes against the chair’s wheels and waited for the clock and date to appear in the lower right corner, but it never showed. After clicking on various icons, everything working as it should, Bucky found the clock’s disappearance odd but continued to sign-in to her company’s program as scheduled. Usually a neon green text guessed the time at the bottom of the screen, Bucky barely looked at it, but that too was missing. Bucky wondered if it was ever really there, never relying on it, but was growing concerned over her increasing distance with time.
“The clock.” Her eyes leapt from the screen to a far wall where a clock once rested.
“Hey Elijah, you got the time?” Her focus beyond Elijah, fixed on the blank wall.
“Yeah it’s mfffTttffd.” It sounded like television static, sudden and loud. Bucky’s heart raced, what the hell was going on?
“Sorry?” She pointed to her ear, barely controlling her shaking arm.
“Mffttfffdtd. What’s goin’ on, Buck? You wanna talk about it? I’m told I’m a great listener.” Things were getting blurry. Stars filled her vision; they danced around Elijah’s fading figure, a shadow growing with each throb of her temples. Bucky was paralyzed in her seat, unable to do anything but stare at walls and shadows listening to roaring television static, removed from time. Things got darker and darker until she faded out completely, Bucky leaving her body and going back to mounting strangers to ‘80s hits.
Suddenly she was jolted from her rendezvous and woke up in her bed, waiting for the sting from slapping Squeeze but got hard plastic instead. Curious, she didn’t seem to notice, just that she needed to get to work.
“Shit.” Bucky said for no reason at all, jumped out of bed, grabbed a pair of pants from a large pile, strapped on an exposed-wire-bra, dove into a t-shirt—sneakers, bag, phone, water, keys, gone. Fast-paced walking to the subway, guy’s reading a right-wing newspaper. “PROTESTORS ATTACK PEACEFUL POLICE”. Sit, hiss, relax, stand, slap, off, up, and down the street until Bucky reached her building. It felt like she was in a daze, her dream still with her as she entered her office, noticing briefly the lack of clocks in the main hallway before swiping in. Walk, sit, think, relax, Elijah.
It felt so mechanical, everything, even relaxing. It felt forced, a part of something she had no power over. She drifted farther away as she spun in her chair, her heart pumping into her ears. Bucky didn’t feel in control, she still felt lost in dream—it’s so real, though.
“What’s going on Buck?”
“Buck you’re speaking jibbermffttvvvfffddd.”
Bucky lost it; she quivered balled-up in her seat, bra-blood seeping through her shirt, Elijah again fading to black while talking in piercing static.
Bucky woke up in bed, drenched in sweat. 8:48. She immediately reached for her phone and dialed work.
“I’m not feeling so well, I can’t come in today. I’m sorry.” Her manager was pretty lenient with her; Bucky rarely called out and was always on time.
“Oh okay Bucky, don’t be sorry! Well I hope you feel better and we’ll see you tomorrow!”
Bucky had these dreams before; she knew she was going crazy from work. She needed change—she needed a personal day. Bucky took her radio and threw it away, thinking she’d just use her phone’s alarm from now on. “No more Squeeze.” She reached for pants at the top of a dirty pile and sat on her bed, looking at them and the bra she would have inevitably worn. She took the whole outfit and threw it in a trash bag, slipping comfortably into new-ish pants and a light sweater. She rooted through her closet to find a special pair of purple suede shoes, the ones she wore only on special occasions. Bucky put them on and felt good about the day ahead of her.
“This time. This time.” Bucky thought to herself while placing the lid on a garbage can, where she’d go later to retrieve her pants and busted bra. She made her way to a small coffee shop 4 blocks away, where she went every time she anxiously called out of work, like clockwork.
“Nobody ever pays attention,” She worked out in her mind, “It’s all about time. You gotta get out of it every once in a while. Get out of the monotony. Free yourself.” She wondered if this were a dream, too, but only for a second; it always crept up on her epiphanous days. “No way.” She shrugged off, “This is real. Today, here. Take it all in, Buck.” Bucky thought as she blurred along the sidewalk with other speedy pedestrians, lost in their own thoughts as bodies traveled and zig-zagged. Along her way, she was slowed behind a man reading a right-wing article on his smartphone. Bucky rolled her eyes and wished she could slap the phone out of his hand. She looked at her own phone’s clock by habit. She was making good time, though today she’d claim it didn’t matter.