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When I greeted the next day, I didn’t know what to expect.

When I greeted the next day, I investigated. I read the news, listened to the news, tweeted the news, retweeted the news, doubted the news, disregarded the news, deleted the news.

When I greeted the next day, I didn’t know who to believe. “I know,” became “I heard,” which became “Well, I heard,” and now there were three different stories. Who should I believe, who was biased, who was manipulating me, and who was still my trusted friend?

When I greeted the next day, I was terrified to step out my front door.

What if what was right is now considered wrong? What if I haven’t progressed enough? What if I already offended someone without breaking a sweat? What if someone wanted to hurt me, or my family, or my friends, or my office, or my school, or my place of worship, and they were allowed to do so? What if it was too late and they already did?

When I greeted the next day, I felt different. I felt lighter; translucent and ineffective. They could see right through me. I felt heavier; bogged down with burden. The weight of the world rested on my shoulders and my soul.

When I greeted the next day, I walked slower. I was slogging through a dirge of despair instead of a dance of delight. There was no magnetic pull arcing me across the horizon towards tomorrow’s hopes and dreams. I felt shoved downwards. Down. That’s where I was headed. All the way down. No, keep going, a little further. When I thought I found the bottom, another layer revealed itself.

When I greeted the next day, I believed it was my fault. I accepted the fact that I could have been wrong. Not the first time it happened. Perhaps my way of thinking was the problem, not the solution.

When I greeted the next day, I doubted myself.

Everything I believed in and stood for, every value that defined me, guided me, drove me to the highest ground seemingly ended in failure and despair. How can I make another decision when apparently I was wrong the entire time?

When I greeted the next day, I opened my mind, listened to new ideas. Apparently the ones that made sense before weren’t the way of the world. I considered other viewpoints, because if this is the way, I guess I should get on board. Everyone seems to be headed in a different direction than me and I’d rather not sit here alone.

When I greeted the next day, I hated myself.

“How could you let that happen?” I asked the mirror and the mirror asked me the same question back. “Who the hell am I?” I wasn’t the person who made things happen. I wasn’t the person who watched things happen. I’m the dude who asked, “What happened?”

When I greeted the next day, they were smug, smarmy, slimed over with satisfaction that they manipulated, repressed, tweaked, regressed, distracted, belittled, restricted, conflicted, rejoiced. The masses became the minions and a select few controlled it all with a snap and a sneer.

When I greeted the next day, I figured it out. They used some of that tricky new math on my lyrical, compassionate mind. They edited the history that I was told, redesigned the lessons I already learned, undid the experiences I already experienced. “Here,” they said, “read the truth. We rewrote it for you.”

When I greeted the next day, I thought critically.

Their ideas still didn’t have an ounce of logic, they lacked a drop of empathy, they were devoid of any trace of humanity. That’s not a rule book I want to follow and that is not a doctrine I will ever get behind.

When I greeted the next day, I changed. My brain turned into two fists of action, ready to explode as my hands started doing all the thinking. They thought, “Punch a wall, dial a phone, write a letter, make a sign and hold it up in the air, align with other hands and fists that think the same way.” They wanted to take on the unjust and the unthinkable as the fireballs of anguish in my head and my heart remained skeptical and said, “No, not yet, not if you don’t have to.” My fists replied, “We have to. Now, get the hell out of our way, because we’re not getting out of yours.”

When I greeted the next day, I saw the faces of others who greeted the same day the same way, and I knew I wasn’t alone.

When I greeted the next day, my head turned to my heart which looked at my fists, my feet, my eyes, my nose, my ears, my mouth, my soul and asked, “Are we okay?”

They answered back, “No, we’re not.”

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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