The evening winding down, Alexander grabbed his phone, folded down his futon into a bed and fell into its hard mattress. His apartment was small, and as such, his bedroom and living room were one in the same. In fact, only the bathroom was separated by a wall and door from the rest of the apartment, but small bachelor apartments like his were common in downtown Kingston.
Alexander had decided to live there after a fair bit of poking and prodding from his family and friends. Nearly everyone he knew lived in Kingston, and so it only made sense for his own sanity to be near them all. While the city was smaller than others he had lived in, and not as tech focused as he would have liked, he was still able to keep a fairly busy social schedule.
Checking his phone, there were half a dozen text messages from various female friends. He was in the “friend zone” with all of them, but still enjoyed the interactions. It had been over two years since he was last in any sort of romantic relationship, and working from home hadn’t helped with his feelings of isolation and the odd pang of loneliness.
Responding to each one, Alexander tried to be helpful. Usually, the messages were asking for advice of one sort or another. Popular topics were boyfriend issues, outfits, and social gossip, and while Alexander wasn’t an expert in any of these things, he enjoyed that they all felt so comfortable talking to him.
It was quiet in his apartment, and only the harsh light of his cell phone was illuminating his small apartment. There was a constant racket as cars passed in front of his building, and being on the first floor meant he heard every one as though they were driving through his apartment. After living near railroads and airports, being near a busy road had mostly become white noise to him.
Alexander looked at his phone, and read the latest text from Sarah, “So, are you coming out with us tonight?”
Always trying to involve Alexander, and get him out of his apartment, Sarah was one of the people that he admired most. Her energy was addictive and despite her beauty and sexiness, she was one of the few women he felt comfortable around, not that his heart didn’t skip a beat when seeing her, but Alexander didn’t have romantic feelings towards Sarah. “I don’t know, I’m exhausted. It was a long day today.”
With his phone sending off one message, Alexander moved on to the next person, Rachel, the woman he did have a crush on. Of course all the women in his life were in relationships, and were all off limits according to his own moral code. Then there was also an unspoken rule that you don’t date inside the circle of friends, and Alexander was now firmly inside what constituted “the circle”.
Rachel was someone that Alexander had recently met, and they seemed to have a great deal in common, and talked endlessly about their jobs, and the baggage that came with working freelance. “How was your day?” Her message simply stated.
Rachel and Alexander had interchanged over one hundred text messages in two days, spending hours discussing their passions, work, frustrations, family, and goals. Alexander was used to not being seen as someone women lusted after. He was always described as the “nice guy” or “geeky guy”, neither of which he felt insulted by, except when he heard his friends talk or text about the “hot guy” in their lives.
Moving his finger around the screen, Alexander traced out the words in his message, and his phone quickly determined what he wanted to say with few errors. “My day was pretty long. I’m just heading to bed with phone in hand to relax. What about you?”
His phone vibrated to let him know his message was being sent, and breathing a long, deep sigh of both relief and frustration, he flipped over onto his back and looked up at the pastel ceiling. An older building, the ceiling had no lighting, and instead the only thing that broke up the otherwise endless nothingness was the little blinking light in his smoke detector.
Alexander’s mind raced as he thought about his day, his week, the last month, and the potential for the next month. It was even more draining to him when he considered all of the things that had happened to him in the last few years, and a feeling of dread washed over him when contemplating his future.
While it wasn’t very late, with the midsummer sun having just gone down an hour ago, Alexander was contemplating just going to sleep as a way to shake off his frustratingly negative thoughts. His job consisted of answering support questions for a software product, and it had been mentally draining. Sure, there were exciting moments sometimes, but today, it was nothing but simple or frustrating people and issues.
Not even waiting for a response from Sarah or Rachel, Alexander rolled over, grabbed the power cable on the floor, plugged his phone into its charger, and slumped back over into bed. The hard futon mattress barely giving an inch as the metal frame squeaked loudly under his shifting weight.
Getting comfortable wasn’t a priority as exhaustion took over and Alexander was quickly and deeply asleep. Neither his phone buzzing, or the sirens of the ambulance racing by his apartment causing him any issues.