No Happy Nonsense

I'm Fifteen Away

October 7th, 2023 | I seek them

I'm running late for work but I'm feeling hungry so I mentally plan in another fifteen minutes to get some food on the way. I pull out my phone and open my smart outlet app, Smarter Life. I hit the button to open the garage door and turn on the garage lights. I go into my car and my phone pairs with the car and starts auto-playing a podcast about bees that I was listening to the last time I was in the car.

"Scientists still aren't sure why colony collapse disorder is affecting such a large percentage of honey bees, however the current..." and on and on the monotone voice drones as I shift to drive and hit the road. I tap the screen on my car to go to the Smarter Life app again and hit the garage door button. I glance in my rear view mirror and see the door begin to close.

"Okay Google, directions to Pizza Hut," I say aloud, to no one. To the car, I guess. To my phone, through the car. "Okay," a robotic voice says in return as my screen pulls up a map and turns me and my car into a little blue triangle. I hit more buttons on my screen and open the Pizza Hut app, Dat's A Pizza Appa. Distracted from my drive, I tap and peck the screen with my index finger to place the order; 6 orders of bread sticks. "That's 30, that should be enough," I say to no one. To myself. To God, hoping she allows me to do this. I press "Submit Order" and the magic ensues.

I drive to Pizza Hut and walk in to pick up my order. The man at the counter asks me for my name and I say it, he then nods and hands me the bag with my bread sticks. The call and return is complete, the ritual fulfilled. At the counter, I open the boxes one by one and inspect each bread stick inside. None of them are satisfactory. I say "I'm done, thank you," to the man at the counter and walk back to my car. My phone pairs with the car and I'm listening to bees again.

"While wasps are often considered a nuisance by homeowners, they serve a crucial function within the..." and on and on the monotone voice drones as I back out of the parking spot and hit the road again, heading for my workplace. The podcast voice quiets for a moment and a robotic voice interjects, "New voice mail," and my car screen offers me buttons for how to handle the message. "I still need bread sticks," I say to myself, unrelated to the voice mail. I press Play Aloud and the message plays.

It's my doctor, he's called to tell me that my bread stick count was low on my recent blood test. If I don't get a steady supply within the next week I likely won't survive. "I know, don't you think I fucking know that?!" I yell at no one. At the car. At my doctor. I pull my car over, fighting back tears. I punch the steering wheel once and let out a primal scream, followed by my brain misfiring out the nonsense phrase "fucking rubber mallet." I take a deep breath and hold it, then let out a long exhale.

I get out of the car and look into the sky. One of those airplanes that has a message banner behind it is flying by. It reads "Gino's Pizza - Best Bread Sticks in Town!" on the banner. I try to hold back but the tears swell in my eyes and I let out a few deep sobs. I open the door to my car and groan out through my cries, "Okay Google, directions to Gino's Pizza." Gino's is 25 minutes away according to my car. To my phone. I won't be able to make it to work and to get the bread sticks. I have a decision to make about my life.

"Onward we go," I say to no one. To myself. To the car. To God, hoping that she is listening and approves. I want to pray but I don't know how, so I just say "Hope they are good this time," aloud. The podcast about bees has ended, I tuned it out for the last few minutes but it doesn't matter. I say "Okay Google, send a text to Derrick Boss," and the robotic voice answers "Okay, what's the message?"

I take a few seconds in silence and then finally say "I can't make it to work today, the bees are dying and I can't find any bread sticks."

Filed Under: Fiction