It is dark as I climb the stairs, wind whipping about my jacket, feathering through my hair. The stone steps are hard beneath my feet as I focus on placing one foot before the other.
I do not want to be here. But the choice is not mine to make.
The fresh taste of the wind teases my mind, offering the merest scrap of encouragement before chaos begins. There is promise, depth and some other…thing, inside the scent filling every available muse-space within my head.
Morning has almost broken.
Keys to the front door are fished out of my coat pocket and used to gain entrance to the lobby, where my feet carry me towards the private elevator leading to the penthouse. It will be a long day today. I can feel it in my eyebrows. They ache already in anticipation of the headaches to come.
I understand, mostly, why my father sends me to run his businesses. I wish at times he would send one of my brothers…my sister, even, but yet I always give the same answer to his only request. “Yes of course, father.” I murmured, punching in the security code. “I’ll be there first thing in the morning.” I never told him how my mornings began at four, or how my nights ended at eleven. Dinner at midnight is a common occurrence in the Wursten household. Mother understands.
The elevator arrives and I enter, closing my eyes to enjoy the upward ride. When the doors open, I stand on the threshold of the pitch-black foyer. Breathing is too loud in the still silence of a new day. The darkness melts away as I clap my hands for the lights to turn on. Everywhere else will remain shrouded in darkness until the sun rises.
Soon my laptop is set up on the grand antique desk facing the window, the Italian leather chair offering comfort to an already weary body. The digital blinds remain closed, confining the light within to my personal quarters. My shoes are discreetly removed beneath the desk and I unclasp the golden watch, placing it beside the phone. It is easier to type with my wrists unburdened.
Soft chimes announce the arrival of my personal assistant. I almost smile, until it registers that I am the only reason to wake her this early in the morning. Although her own choice, I feel guilty at the thought of how a ‘normal’ job with someone less demanding might have brought some inkling of happiness to her life.
The intercom buzzes. “Good morning, Adrian. Coffee and a bagel?”
“Good morning, Iris.” I roll a green die, scoring a four. “Muffin, no bagel.”
“Of course…and shall I also bring up your messages?”
“Yes-highlight the important ones too and print my voicemail transcriptions while you’re at it.”
Our conversation ends as my mind shifts into the survival mode necessary for my sanity to endure the challenges to come. Iris is fast-and today, the stress lines are not as deep as I remember them. A steaming cup of coffee is set on the matching wooden coaster near the phone. She is also carrying the first of the countless armfuls of paperwork I shall wade through before the day is over.
And so my day begins.
I long to witness the sunrise, but as the brilliant sphere awakens in the heavens, I am negotiating a five-year contract carrying delicate baggage. When it hovers beside the penthouse window, begging me to admire such perfectly crafted ways, I am stuffing my face before the next client meeting. Soft afternoon light dances upon the expertly decorated walls, whispering to me of the Creator’s handiwork as I type up another rough draft.
The steam rises from the coffee cup as the red letters of the clock flicker to eleven. My feet are rubber, struggling to function as I bid Iris goodnight and begin the security lockdown. I find my coat and retie the laces on my shoes. I double-check the coffee pot, the elevator security and pause to welcome the night guards.
Stepping out into the coolness of the night air, the darkness hits me like a wall. Snatching away my breath, it also confiscates my despair, replacing it with a starving need to return home and refresh my soul before another day is born.
The keys from my coat pocket turn the locks on the door.
Thank you, Father, for pulling me through another impossible day.
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