Robert Kaye’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Green Mountains Review, Cicada, Snake Nation Review, Pindeldyboz, The Rose and Thorn, The Palo Alto Review, Descant, Bryant Literary Review, The Legendary, Slow Trains, Carve, Kimera and elsewhere.
in the last years of the first decade of the twenty-first century, a phalanx of drugs targeted flaccid productivity through enhanced white collar performance, the energy saved from removing shift keys insufficient to reverse the slide into a stagnant economy and staunch the decay of our standard of etcetera. the young, ambitious version of myself volunteered to take pills clinically proven to focus attention/achieve clarity/exile chitchat. not that these were ever my problems.
young me worked ever faster inflating the next bubble, the company poised to leapfrog into integrated infrasomething, accelerating workflow across a global whatever. photovoltaic glass replaced transparent windows, opaque to blot out distraction—studies showing that conversations about weather waste an annual trillion euros/yuan/dollars. economists strip mined the “productivity ecosystem” for ammunition in the arms race with the asian dragons, india and the wily swiss. they repealed weekends and vacations and human interaction—yes, even weekends.
medical emergencies intervened. little strokelettes serving as speed bumps, seizing gears. young me became the me of now, the side effects in fine print writ large.
They gave those with damaged minds the old equipment, including keyboards with shift keys (Which I So MISSED). The pills stopped, any investment in advanced pharma no longer cost/beneficial. The economy downshifted, type A+ behavior downgraded to junk bond disgrace.
They assigned us to work more tree than forest. We spent hours in training, learning how to discuss sitcoms around water coolers, re-acquainting us with the rituals of spectator sports, even if we never cared for those. They redeployed us to cubes next to windows—transparent ones, not worth retrofitting.
I spend time watching weather pile against the sides of mountains, not moving them, or trying. I begin to appreciate the wisdom of clouds.