Greg stared out the window of his office, wondering what it would be like to fall from the 34th floor.
He sipped some more coffee, followed by a weighed sigh. It was sweet enough for his liking, but also the only real highlight of his day. Within the next 15 minutes, he expected to be fired, or “have his professional relationship with the company ended.” That was the joy of a recession. Everyone was getting fired as companies looked for ways to pinch pennies. Greg knew that his termination was coming. It just seemed to be the way things were going in his life. Everything was ending.
At home, Greg’s wife, Melinda was trying to raise their two kids, who regularly turned into hellions. The kids would scream and terrorize one another, until they were tired of that and then attack the cat. Melinda did everything she could to get the kids to behave, even for five minutes, but nothing seemed to work. She went from emotionally exhausted to emotionally spent to a ball of emotion throughout the course of the day. When Greg did get home, he stepped into the ruins of a tornado with two kids smiling at him, a wife sobbing in the kitchen.
Once the kids were in bed, Greg would start helping around the house. Melinda would start pouring drinks. He did what he could to help his wife, encourage her, woo her, but nothing seemed to give life back to her. She would end each night, passed out on the couch, glass in one hand, tissues in the other. Greg would pick her up and carefully put her into bed, before he resumed cleaning.
A day of work and a night of helping at home wasn’t unreasonable for Greg. He had grown up with the idea that there was work, not man’s work and women’s work in the house, just work. And everyone in the house was to help take care of it. He would happily take out the trash, scrub the pots and pans after supper, even vacuum if the rugs needed it. But every night was starting to take it’s toll on him. And every chore was starting to weigh heavy on his shoulders.
It would be midnight before Greg would get to bed. The kids finally asleep, his wife laying in the same position he had laid her in. He would crawl into his bed, and sigh heavily.
Maybe tomorrow will be different, he would say to himself. Maybe tomorrow the kids will listen to Melinda. Maybe she would need to drink her sorrows away. Maybe I’ll get a chance to relax after work. Maybe tomorrow this will be better and we could put an end to this chapter of our lives.
It never worked. Greg had been stuck living in this pattern for months. A full day at work followed by an exhausting night at home. Gone were the night giggling with the kids. Gone were the sweet kisses from his wife when he walked in the door. Gone was the since of fulfillment that he felt in his life.
Greg took another sip of his coffee. It was starting to cool off. He shoulders dropped as he sighed again. The phones continued to ring behind him. Copiers and printers hummed and beeped. Mail carts zipped behind him, and people rushed off to meetings. The world kept on going, kept on moving without realizing how broken this man was.
He glanced down at his watch. Any time now, the boss will call for me and boom! Another relationship over.
Greg looked out the window again and returned his thought to falling from that height. The freedom that he might feel. Nothing holding him down. Nothing pulling him back. To let go and let someone else worry about everything for a few minutes would be wonderful. It would also save him from having to open the divorce papers his wife had sent him.
They had been sitting at his desk when he arrived at work. The return address said more than enough. “Goldberg and Smith, Divorce Lawyers.” After he read that, he went to get a coffee and hadn’t returned to his desk.
Why was his wife divorcing him? What possible reason did she have to want to throw away 8 years of marriage? He hadn’t cheated on her, even though the office secretary kept throwing herself at him. He wasn’t gambling or boozing away the family money. He was helping around at home. He was trying to raise the kids with her. Where had he failed?
At least nothing else can end, he thought. Yeah, because you don’t’ have anything else, he argued with himself. Another burdened sigh left Greg’s lips. Yeah, I’ve got nothing else. He took another sip of his coffee. Cold, well that is great. So much for the one good thing in my life. He slowly started the long walk back to his desk.
It was true what he had said to himself. There was nothing else in his life that could go wrong because there was nothing else in his life. After he and Melinda got married, they moved into the city to pursue her career as a fashion photographer. All Greg’s family and all his friends were left behind in the small country town that he had grown up in. He had tried to make friends, but nothing seemed to work. He wasn’t enough of a baseball fan to click with the guys at work. He knew very little about fashion or photography, so any conversations with Melinda’s friends resulted in him only listening.
He looked back at the window, and imagined falling from that height. Oh, to feel that freedom, and let something end. Could he really do it? Could he let himself fall from this height to his end? Or was it the symbolism of letting go that beckoned him back to the window?
He stopped and turned back, dropping his coffee.