*This is the short story that made me fall in love with writing. I had taken an Honors Creative Writing class at my local community college. One of the requirements of the class was to submit three original poems and a short prose to a contest that the school held every year. To my great surprise, my submission for prose won. I still have a copy of the book it was published in sitting on one of my bookshelves.*
A day, like any other day, especially for Dan. Stumbling off the bus, Dan grasped the railing of the bus door with his left hand, and clutched his glasses with his sore right hand to make sure they didn’t slip off and break for the second time this week. Turning around, the bus driver caught a glance of him. Dan was a man in his early thirties, skin black as coal. He wore gloves to hide his fingers, which he was ashamed of because they were yellow from years of smoking. He didn’t smoke for social reasons. He smoked for its calming effect. The bus driver scowled at Dan and said “Are you drunk or what boy? Sober up.” With that the creaky door shut tight and the bus rambled off, blowing heavy exhaust in its trail. Dan looked on while fumbling with the zipper of his jacket. “Asshole!” he yelled at the retreating bus. Pausing from the matter of his coat, Dan gave the middle finger with his free right hand. Dan wasn’t drunk. He was autistic, and with his degree of autism came with it a lack of balance and coordination.
On his right hand a large bandage was covering the lower part of Daniel’s thumb where it met the palm. A month prior he had cut himself on the meat slicer at the deli that he worked at. A good portion of skin went into the freshly sliced meat. The scream he let out startled the deli’s patrons. A couple children began to cry out of fear. Dan wasn’t allowed to leave until he finished his shift. As he made his way to the hospital with his hand wrapped in a bloodied towel, he wondered what happened to his missing skin. Now, on his right hand is a keep scar. It still caused Dan pain. And it was most likely that it would for quite some time.
Inching his way home Dan gave up on trying to zip his jacket. As he cursed it for not cooperating with him and for apparently being a part of the massive conspiracy that seemed to dwell in his life, a bit of drizzle landed on his glasses. He looked up and noticed the collection of clouds that gathered overhead. “Oh fuck” he said while wrapping his arms around himself and picking up his pace. Just another grievance to add to the list.
“Tck, God I hate this face,” Dan said to his self as he saw his reflection in a store window. “Only two more blocks to go, then I’ll be fine” he thought. He had forgotten to take his Zoloft that morning and now felt his depression setting in, one of the most debilitating symptoms of autism. He needed it to function with some degree of normalcy; degree being the key word. The med’s negative side affect was that it made Dan an emotional zombie. But Dan felt he rather not feel anything than feel the sinking depression that was beginning to tighten its hold on him at that very moment.
“Only a little ways to go. I’ll make it” Dan said to himself. His shoulders hung low as if his jacket was made of lead. Dan’s eyes looked on as the world around him seemed to move without him; A world with no pity or patience for the likes of him. Perhaps someday understanding would come, but not today. He was in reach of his apartment. He saw his stoop, the one that badly needed re-cementing. “I’m not going to give you the satisfaction,” he said as he approached his apartment door. After fumbling with his keys and tending to the lock he looked back with a facial expression most curious. “I will not give.” As quickly as he said that, he retreated inside and the door shut tight.