When I was a boy, I spent most of my time in a field. This field was located behind a distant relative’s apartment complex. It was full of weeds, maybe one or two wild herbs. Everything smelt fresh, and real, in that field. Life felt pure. I look back on those days with a melancholic pang of childhood nostalgia.
At the age of twenty and one day, I started working in a warehouse. I had no particular job title. My only instruction was: “Do what you are told.” In other words, I did what no one else wanted to do.
The warehouse was full of an echoing chill. It was full of man-made objects. There were synthetic fibers everywhere you looked. Metal. That was the main ingredient that made the warehouse what it was. Frosty, unsympathetic, unwavering metal.
There were large windows on every wall of the warehouse and on every floor. Somehow, these windows always stayed clean and transparent, even though I had never taken the time to clean them. You could look outside and see everything: the birds flitting across sporadic skyscrapers, the leaves falling from crooked branches.
I always saw the windows as bars. From the inside, I could see my boyhood-self running through the field, scaling trees, and eating berries that made him pucker his lips. I could see him as he ran from pane to pane without a care in the world. He was free.
Working at the warehouse was like working in a kaleidoscope. You were trapped in a world full of metallic colors and artificial dyes. To the outside eye, you seemed magical, an ebb and flow of cosmic colors. Only on the inside did you know the truth: you were trapped behind the frosted looking glass.
I worked at the warehouse for… well, I don’t know how long. In fact, I think I am still working there.
After a few years, it all fused together. I became blinded by the glare off of metal barriers. I became deaf from the sound of machines humming. My nose, its sense of smell became obsolete after years of inhaling putrid oil, cleaning chemicals, and grease. As for my sense of touch, it only recognizes the smooth, unblemished surfaces of walls and floors that never end.
I became immune and distant to everything around me. It felt as if I was moving on a conveyor belt. Never of my own will, but always pushed around and around and around.
The seasons of the warehouse changed minute by minute. There was nothing that I could do to stop or remember, no calendar to mark. All I could do was keep going, keep circling. Keep circling until nothing else was left for me but the windows.
Ah, yes, the windows. Sometimes my eyes can register the diluted light that permeates them and, instantly, I find myself searching for that one memory from long ago.
Those windows, they are no longer a mirror. They are a picture frame. And sometimes, if I am lucky, I can see a lithe figure running between the bars.
Anna Gragert’s writings and/or photographs have been featured in HelloGiggles, Femsplain, xoJane, The Indie Chicks, tiny buddha, Luna Luna Magazine, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Pea River Journal, RiverLit, White Ash Literary Magazine, You & Me Medical Magazine, The Horror Writers Association, and Thought Catalog. Follow her on Twitter @Anna_Gragert to keep up with her adventures in all things human/creative.