This is a short story that I wrote for English class about the American Dream and following your passion, any feedback would be great. Hope you’re having a great Friday and thank you in advance!
It’s Monday morning and the city air is convecting with a drone of energy. A traffic-cluttered street stretches onwards beside a pulsing mass of people on the sidewalk. The mid-March breeze blows warm in the sun and cool in the shadows.
Aden Grayson is among the crowd of listless people striding determinedly down the sidewalk in the shade of the skyscrapers. He troops along, almost carried by the current of others around him, dressed in a suit with a briefcase in hand.
A few blocks later he breaks from the stream of people and turns into his Laundromat. Swinging the doors open he steps into the garish fluorescent lights and faces a bleak wall of tumbling washers and dryers.
Making his way to the counter with a smile he asks the attendant, “Hi, is my suit ready?”
The young man’s eyes lift from his notebook and up to him, “Your name?”
“Let me check.” He goes to the back room for the specialty cleanings and emerges with a shrug, “Sorry, we’ve been having trouble with the machines, it’s gonna be another 15 minutes. Feel free to grab a coffee.” He offers nodding towards the coffee machine on the counter.
Glancing at his watch Aden mumbles to himself in disappointment, “Well, I guess I’ll just wait. Why is it that stuff like this always happens on Monday mornings…?”
“It’s Monday?” the guy behind the counter realizes, “Already Monday, I guess I forgot.”
“Forgot it’s Monday?” He looks up from pouring his drink, “That’s pretty hard to do. I basically dread this day the whole weekend, all it means is another week of this. You must know especially, working here and all.”
The young man behind the counter breaks into a half smile, “Yanno, it’s funny because I don’t even think of this as my job.”
Aden turns his head, confused at what he means, “You mean, you actually like working here? No offense or anything” He adds thoughtfully, “but, well, you know…”
“Here?” He looks around surveying the cracked linoleum floor and rows of endlessly spinning washing machines. “Uh, not exactly. But I don’t really consider this my job, I guess it’s more of my day job, you know, to help pay the bills… but definitely not my real job… I think I would start noticing Monday mornings if it was.”
“I guess you’re lucky then, I work at a bank. Can’t exactly say it’s my passion, but I’m successful.”
“See, what I really am is an artist. I paint on my off-hours and am even starting to be featured in some local galleries. I can’t say I’m successful yet, but it’s definitely my passion.”
“Wonder which one of us is better off?” Aden jokes lightly. “I mean, you not minding working here just because you have something else in your life that you really love, kinda makes my idea of success crumble apart, yanno?”
“I didn’t want to point it out, but I think you’re right. I think this world has a messed up idea of success. I mean, just look out there.” He excitedly stretches his arm towards the big glass windows and the mass of people busily walking by, “They all seem unhappy. I always think about this, what exactly is everyone looking for? We only have about 70 to 80 years here on earth, and that’s if we’re lucky, and what will it all be worth if we just let the days troop by into years and then before we know it, we’re buried in the ground?”
“Yeah, you’ve really got a point. It’s a point I try to ignore, but even when I do I know it’s there.”
“I know how it is. I used to try to push that thought out of my mind too. My parents were big into the whole, get good grades in high school, go to college, get a steady job thing. And I tried it too, mostly to make them happy, plus I thought it was what I should do. Barely made it through two semesters as an accounting major until I moved here and went to art school. Parents were against it at first, but it’s the best decision I ever made.”
“What finally made you decide to do it?”
“I guess the life I live now is based on a chance remark. I was talking to my professor one day after class and he had noticed my drawings on the margins of my tests. He said the math was mediocre, but the sketches weren’t. I told him why I wanted to be an accountant, and he agreed I was going to hit a dead end. He quoted Van Gogh, actually, and he told me, “Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
“I guess you’re lucky then, you know when to leave the main road, to plant your own flowers. Part of me really wants to, but I can never bring myself to do it.”
“That’s the problem. We’re all directionless, but we can’t settle. We can’t be more focused on staying alive than finding a reason to be alive.”
The young man behind the counter hears a beep from the machine in back, “That must be your suit.” He walks to the back room and comes out with it. “Well, here’s what you came for.”
Aden pays and turns to leave, “Thanks for your help, I mean it.”
The guy smiles, “Anytime.”
He walks back out the door into the crowd, the room inhales a wisp of fresh air as the door is shut.