Narcolepsy Nights, Episode #202: The Consequences of Living Two Lives

12:38 am

I love my job at the aquatic pet store. The wall of fish tanks are endless, the accessories are amazing, and the fish are exotic. People love this place. I’ve only been a cashier here for the last couple years, but it’s a good job.

Okay, so … the pay’s not so great. My bosses are way, absent-minded and fool-hearty sometimes. That’s okay. I’ve made some good connections with our customers, and they come to me special because I’m their favorite, here. Take Joe, for instance. I can tell you everything about him; what he looks like, how he talks, what his likes and dislikes are, his family members, and why he spends his money on constantly improving their aquarium: it’s for his kids. I’ve gone out to his house at least twice this year to clean their tank and visit with their family. Just a few hours ago, I worked it out with Joe that I’m coming by next week so I can help with a tank cleaning. It’s extra money on the side and I’m making friends. I have got to remember to put that on my calendar or I’ll forget …

Yesterday was a bit daunting, though. This really beautiful gal came in and wanted more than just having someone come over and clean her aquarium. Yeah – I think you get the point. Her flirtatiousness was almost unnerving. Worse, I think she’s married. There’s one side of me that wants to say no, and another that doesn’t. Of course, I did the only thing I could think of – sent her to my bosses!! Let them deal with it. Even if, I feel a little jealousy inside because … it could have been me. Stupid morals.

Sadly … I think one of them is going over to her house tomorrow. *sigh*. I hope she’s okay.

I don’t mind working the front counter. I have to wear this stupid, yellow apron to protect my clothes and I really hate the way it looks. Still, I try to dress really nice underneath so I can present myself more professionally to the customers. My bosses – sandals – both of them! Oh yeah, that reminds me, I need to do laundry tonight or I won’t have anything clean for tomorrow!!

My shift ends in a couple hours. I live in a small apartment on the upper, west side. It’s not a bad place. Not great. But, not bad. I keep it clean and take good care of the few things I have. Not having a car is difficult, though. Sometimes, getting around is a real pain. In fact, I have a hard time waking up early enough in the morning to make it on the bus. I’ve walked it plenty of times, though. Literally, I cross at Elks Road right outside the front of the shop, walk 14 blocks north to 3rd Street, take a left, and then head west for about 1/2 mile. There’s a few more side roads after that, but it’s no big deal because I’ve done it in an hour’s time before.

Man – only 15 minutes until closing! I have to pull my till and get it counted, but we’ve been swamped, today! Surprisingly, it’s been busier than normal. I’m not sure why it’s so busy, but I love it! I have to be real careful when counting my till. The manager over me has been getting jealous about the luck I’m having with customers and would love to get me fired. Sometimes, the stress is a lot. First, though – I need to pull some of the neon lights for this next guy ….

7:10 a.m.

It’s dark. My body is stiff and sore. I feel like I’ve been on my feet all night. My eyelids feel like they’re a 1000 pounds and stuck together! Oh man, I have to get Joe’s tank cleaning on my schedule ….

Wait … when was that? Heck, I don’t even know how to get there! Why don’t I know? I’ve been there twice before! I can see his place in my head … What’s happening? WHAT’S GOING ON?

Um …

Opening my eyes – I see the clock. It’s 7:12 a.m. WTF WTF WTF WTF!! I am SO late! With the manager wanting to get rid of me … I’ve totally screwed up! I’ll have to get dressed quick … oh crud … did I do my laundry? Did I wash my apron? Wait a second … what apron? At least I can drive to work …

I have a car? Why do I have a car?

Wait – WHERE AM I? This isn’t my apartment … it’s … it’s my home. What about my apartment? Where is it? I knew how to get there … I knew every street … I mean … I think I do … I just … can’t … REMEMBER!

What about my cat? Did she get fed last night? Is she okay? How long have I been gone? Somebody – please …

PLEASE HELP ME!

7:14 a.m.

Oh jeez … look at the time! Jumping up out of bed, I realize – I’m late for … what? Work? At the fish store? I don’t work at a fish store. I work at …

Oh, c’mon … I KNOW this ….

DANG IT! Why can’t I remember where I work? Why can’t I remember where I am? Why can’t I remember anything? I need to … I need to call someone. Yeah, that’s it – family! They’ll know …

But … what’s their number? WHAT ARE THEIR NAMES?

My breath is racing. My heart is pounding. Something’s wrong … something’s really wrong. THIS ISN’T MY LIFE!!

Everything’s fuzzy. I feel strange. There are images just swimming around in my head. I’ve been working at an aquatic pet store for the past two years … but – no…

THAT’S NOT MY LIFE!!

Fear …

Sickness in my stomach …

My head is hurting …

7:28 a.m.

Oh great! Now I know I’m going to be late for work … at … wait … I can see it! I know where I work, it’s coming back to me slowly! Their names … I can almost remember …

No … not yet. C’mon .. PLEASE! PLEASE REMEMBER. The tears rolling down my cheeks are burning. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?

I see … I see their faces! I see my workplace. I see my family! I see my home!

Yes, I know where I am – I’m at home – MY real home! But … that appointment with Joe, I have to get it in my calend…

There is no appointment with Joe, is there? I was never there. I never made friends with his family. They never invited me over for dinner. My bosses were not jerks. I don’t have to worry about that woman that they’re going to see because … she doesn’t exist.

I can’t …

I can’t stop crying.

NONE OF THIS EXISTED!

Two years. I’ve lost two years of my life – to nothing. What did I do before? Who was I?

Now my head is really hot. My ears are burning. I finally get it – it was a dream. All of it.

….

At least … I think it was.

It’s just that …

It was as real as this one.

And …. I’m still worried about my damn cat.

4:53 p.m.

Even as I sit here at my desk, working, I keep checking my calendar appointments to make sure that I’ve scheduled in Joe – but he’s not there. It hurts, just a little, to be reminded that there is no Joe, no kids, and no family. My friends … don’t exist.

I can’t remember the name of the gal who came in, but I’m still worried about her … and even a little frustrated at myself for letting my bosses get to her. I know – I know it wasn’t real. But, you weren’t there. You didn’t see how they acted. And, the guilt …

The guilt’s real.

Worse, I never got that neon bulb off the shelf, and now, I can’t help but keep looking around for it.

….

Did it happen? Was I there? Was it a dream? Was I living inside someone else? Is it a real place?

It feels very shallow and cold, now. My life that I have here is real. This is the life I want. But … that other life … was real, too (even if it was only a dream).

I can’t remember if this is the second, third, or fiftieth time I’ve woken up and don’t remember who I am or where I am. I’m so tired of it. I’m so tired of it all. I need to post something up on my dresser so that every morning, when I wake up, it will tell me who I am – just in case – you know, I forget.

5:47 pm

*Sigh* Home at last! I keep looking around for my cat … only to be reminded that he’s out there, somewhere, alone, hungry, and frightened. That is … if he exists.

You know the worse thing about forgetting in the mornings? It’s not the life I miss – and will miss every day for the rest of this life. It’s not the memories or waking up confused. It’s the fear. It’s the fear that one day I wake up and I won’t remember who I am anymore and I’ll have lost the people here, too.

There’s consequences from living two lives. It’s worse when you’ve had to live thousands …

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