April 5th, 2014

He emptied his pockets: A cell phone that hadn’t rung in three days. An iPod touch that everyone mistook for a cell phone. A ball point pen, nearly out of ink from scrawling useless information. Chapstick. Fingernail clippers. A half-eaten apple core, browned and wet.

‘What am I doing?’ he thought.

“You can tell whether a man is worth his salt by what he has in his pockets,” his grandfather used to say. “Any man without a knife in his pocket might as well not be alive.”

He ran his fingers through his hair and sat back on the frayed couch that had springs poking through the cushion and stains on the fabric.

‘What am I doing?’ he thought.

He shut his eyes, stagnant, his ears ringing. He opened them, pulled up his laptop and checked Facebook. His eyes slowly dried with the fatigue of being awake for more than twenty-four hours.

‘What am I doing?’ he thought.

The internet pulled his time away, the air pulled the moisture from his eyes, if he thought about it carefully enough, he might have agreed that his decisions slowly pulled his time away, too.

Finally, after an hour of pointless browsing and searching, he shut his laptop and stepped into the kitchen. He opened the fridge and saw nothing. He opened all of the drawers, and again, saw nothing. Nothing that hadn’t expired months ago, that is.

He opened the pantry door, and mice scrambled away into the dark nooks and crannies. A bag of floor sat on the lowest shelf, next to a jar of canola oil.

He went back to the den and sat down on the sagging couch, spooning mouthfuls of flour into his mouth. He washed down each spoonful of flour with a gulp of tap.

‘What am I doing?’ he thought.

He coughed several times. Chugged a glass of water. He put the bag of flour down and licked his white powdered lips. He looked at the browned apple core on the table, grabbed it, and ate the rest of it, seeds, stem, and all.

As he chewed the apple stem, he remembered the old garden outside. He got up and ran outside. He landed on his knees and clawed through the dirt. He unearthed several edible roots.

He darted into the kitchen, looking for a knife. He opened the silverware drawer, nothing. He checked the sink, nothing. He checked under the sink and in the pantry and in a dozen other drawers, but the closest thing he could find was the spoon he’d used to eat flour as a main course for his meal.

He cut the roots up with the spoon and returned to the decrepit couch, eating the beets a spoonful at a time.

‘What am I doing?’ he thought.

‘I’m living.’

Sign up to receive A Story Each Day via email:

* indicates required