Why is David Sad?
by T.O. Davis
WHY IS DAVID SAD? Asked no one ever, but David thought maybe they were asking those things about him in the office or in the break room around the microwave or vending machine stocked with baby carrots, vegan “meat” sticks, and non-GMO-gluten-free-and-soy-free chips. There were better things they could be doing with their time, David thought. It was Christmas and soon the New Year would be here and then Valentine’s Day and Easter and then the Fourth and Labor Day followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and the same old questions from his coworkers hanging around the office.
David always arrived early and worked late just like his dad and his grandad before him. David had a wife but he considered her sufficiently well adjusted to his schedule just like his dad and his granddad had with their wives before him. Was that what all the whispering in the breakroom was about? David thought. Were his coworkers jealous of his work ethic?
Perhaps it was “dick envy”? It seemed, after nearly thirty years of marriage, which felt, to David, more like 62.7 or some other impossibly odd number that is unbearably too long like the line for some amusement park ride that, in the beginning you are excited to ride, but by the time you are at the end of the line you just want it to be over with. However, after nearly thirty years of marriage, David’s wife, Maggie, finally saw his penis and she wasn’t impressed. Maybe it was the Ambien talking or the fact his naked body was only illuminated by her cell phone, but either way “shrinkage” was not a good argument against her disapproving, albeit slurred, gaze. David was fast approaching 50, and he wondered if he was going to lose her, too.
David and Maggie had no kids, but they had dogs: Sue and Leif. Both dogs were boys. Perhaps David was sad because Maggie would take the dogs; she would move to North Dakota and run a diner for the oil truckers; at night, she would write poetry or her memoir.
Then there was Angela, the receptionist. In David’s mind they were lovers, but he rarely spoke with her except for the occasional wave and smile as he came in and left for the day. He thought of friending her on Facebook or LinkedIn, but he knew little of her other than the few profile pics he could peruse online. The only thing David knew about her, outside of social media, was she was his boss’s daughter.
David did not like Patricia. He thought, perhaps, Patricia had started the inquiry about him:
Why is David sad?
Then his idiot coworkers had allegedly hit reply all:
Because he is a big fat loser who stays in his cubicle?
Because he has seasonal affectiveness disorder?
Because he can’t satisfy a woman?
Because he is too old to compete in the market?
Because there is not enough coffee in the break room?
Because he has no children?
Because when he delivers mail, he tells all the women he put something in their box?
David shook his head. He could feel the HR goons staring at him from the smoke detectors; he covered his computer screen until his skin stopped burning. His ears were popping, but it was only the fluorescent lights. He needed to get home; he would make them stop.
Maggie would not be hysterical when she called. The police report would list her as indifferent, but there would be no investigation. The obit would be to the point, just as David was and his dad and his graddad before him were: Survived by his spouse and two dogs. Maggie would pack things up, move back to Rocky Mount, and take up pottery until she got bored with it, but she would not be sad. She would start teaching at Edgecombe Community College and volunteer at Nash General; she would fall in love with weekend beach trips to Nags Head, but she would not be angry. She would not hate his guts for a childless marriage, for the lack of comfort, or for the mess in the guest room turned office, which now belonged to a happier couple; a family she never had. She would stop shaking her fists at the moon and take up running, until she was born anew.