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The Bad Day - A Short Story

An airport is an awful place. This is what Martin Pickles had decided.


As he sat back into his uncomfortable plastic seat, he took stock of the assault on his senses. The anxiety and tension were palpable. The world jumped in front of him, a blur of suitcases and self-righteous people. The maelstrom of life around him threatened to swallow him whole. In the dizzying array of sound and colour, he closed his eyes for a moment.


Yesterday had been a bad day.


Sharon burned the coffee. In her defence, Charlotte had been crying and Elliott was refusing to put on his school trousers. But Sharon burned the coffee. So sacred a ritual was his morning cup of Colombian roast, that Martin had stormed out of the house and left Sharon to deal with the chaos of his two young children.


Sat in his car, Martin began to wonder how he would approach the day now that he had gone without his morning dose of caffeine. ‘A disturbed routine is not a routine at all,’ thought Martin, as he pulled out of the drive.


An airport is a deafening place. This is what Martin Pickles had decided.


Cacophonous was the best adjective Martin could think of as he absent-mindedly scratched a spot on his chin. The squeals of the holidaymakers, the inane drivel of the commuters and the sickly-sweet chatter of the air hostesses merged into an indistinguishable din. The blare of computer-generated messages from the lofty speakers seemed to fall with a weight, adding a monotonous drone to the cesspool of noise below. Martin covered his ears for a moment.


Yesterday had been a bad day.


Emily was sick. In her defence, she had never before been absent in her eight years as Martin’s secretary. But Emily was sick. Martin did not have a prioritised list of tasks on his desk. Martin’s air-conditioning had not been turned on precisely half an hour before he arrived. The air vent above his desk stared at him, quiet and lifeless.


Sat in his luxury leather desk-chair, Martin began to wonder how he would approach the day now that he had to work in a warm office without the distant company of Emily. He opened his e-mails and began to read, his eyes scanning miserably over other people’s problems. Martin felt apathetic. And Martin felt warm.


An airport is a malodorous place. This is what Martin Pickles had decided.


The persistent smell of body odour and fast food was surely the eleventh plague that was never wrought upon the Egyptians. The cheap perfume of ambitionless young men and women lingered as they walked by, trailing behind them like an invisible shadow. The musk of each one of the hundreds of people jostled for attention, perverting the air with their foul intentions. Martin took a deep breath in through his mouth.


Yesterday had been a bad day.


Doctor Morris gave him the news. In his defence, he had done everything he could for Martin. But Doctor Morris gave him the news. The treatments were not working; the cancer was spreading and there was nothing more they could do for Martin. Doctor Morris had stared at him over steepled fingers, sorrow and sympathy emanating in waves from his hardened face.


Sat holding Sharon’s hand, Martin began to wonder how he would approach the day with the sudden knowledge that his days were numbered. He thought about his wife and his children. He thought about his morning cup of coffee. He thought about his secretary. He thought about his air-conditioned office. And he thought about life.


An airport was a busy place. This is what Martin Pickles had decided.


So busy, in fact, that nobody noticed as he carefully pushed his briefcase along the floor with his left foot. So busy, in fact, that nobody noticed as he carefully pulled the man’s identical briefcase towards him with his left foot. So busy, in fact, that nobody noticed as Martin picked up his briefcase and walked away from his uncomfortable plastic seat, away from the dizzying array of sound and colour, away from the maelstrom of life.


Martin walked outside and inhaled; a deep, cleansing breath. The automatic doors closed behind him, sealing his fate.


Today was going to be a good day.




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