I close shut the plain plastic door of my house, leaving behind Middle Earth, YouTube, and my wannabe friend Dread. He's not the nice kind of friend, but he tries to hang out with me anyway, nosing his way into everything I do, distracting, retching, disturbing me.
I make footsteps down my street. The Autumn is here, bright sunshine and a violent wind, twenty-seven-degrees and the dark shade, minus-twenty on a good day. The sun is blinding, but I think I hear a door slam behind me, a brass-knocker forced into soundy life. The peace of suburbia is ruined and cars chugger past me, making me divert my route. Over-weight delivery men and dog-walkers all in cars, all quiet except their screaming eyes.
They look at me as I pass them and I look back, defiant of their thoughts. A noise like falling rocks sounds behind me, but I don't turn round, I know what it is. Dread is following me. He always does, lingering behind me somewhere.
My mind crosses paths un-thought of, possibilities of grandeur and fame and a worriless future, all the while focusing back on Dread and the what-ifs he brings.
Entering town I see the lives of others, from silver-suited devils, business men with slick black hair, waiting in line at the chain bakery with the unemployed fathers and the teen mums. There's no burberry culture here, only cheap two-piece joggers and hoods, white scuffed trainers and a cap to match. Each with a cigarette in their mouths and a toothless smile on their faces.
They'll be on the town tonight, I thought, after the babies have gone to bed and are left alone. I suppose that's one way of coping with the hand life has dealt you. Smoking's a bad habit that turns into an addiction, but is it more a distraction from life? A five-minute window of enjoyment that turns into a three-hour break with a forty-a-day attitude.
I avoid them as best I can, as you would if you were me. Dread has caught up with me now. I can hear him breathing down my neck.
I cross the threshold of the Unemployed Temple, march my way through the lower floors and up the stairs, as is my routine. I've been doing this every Wednesday for nine-months, still to no avail. Every time I enter here it's customary to donate some of your hope so others may have the chance at some. Nine-months is a long time, my reserves are low. Dread knows this.
I make an offering to a Priestess, wishing her well as she gives me luck. She doesn't see Dread waiting patiently behind me, or she ignores him. Her business is with luck, she hands that out, bucketfuls at a time. I leave there, ignoring the others. Employed talking to Unemployed. Some wishing they were the other, the others just getting high on the free luck.
I'm welcomed back to the streets with the crowds of unemployed and silver-suits. The crying babies and homeless. Shop windows stare blankly into the town, hollow shells hoping to be filled once more. But like I say, nine-months is a long time and there's not much hope to go around.
I do what I can, thinking about things that I could achieve here if I had the means and the ability, but then Dread reminds me that I should focus on myself. I should get myself out of the pit everyone is apart of. Stand on the backs of the unfortunate and the needy, but I can't even help myself.
The pub spews out cigarette smoke and more unemployeds, it's not even lunchtime yet. Holiday shoppers, early but still hopeful, cling to their bags of gifts, preparing themselves for the onslaught of abuse. I pass a pair of men, I overhear them, it sounds foreign to me, but the odd word is familiar. Is that what communication has come to? A secret language of the masses. Screams and cries, and mumbles and shrugs. Toothless laughter and deceptive smiles.
I make my way home, stealing some hope and warmth from a couple holding hands on the bridge. They're disabled mentally but they're making the best out of fate's misfortune. Neither worries, neither cares. Life goes on around them. The flooded river flows, and they have time to sit and stare. I envy them. I used to be able to sit and watch, but not anymore.
Two sirens screech out onto the street as I make my way home. I hope that someone has died. It's selfish of me, I know, but there'll be more hope to go around.
I catch a sun-dewed cobweb nestled in the knot of a tree and I'm reminded of the beauty and hope and wonders of the world around me. I'm relived slightly. I know this can't go on forever, it has to come to an end at some point. I smile at the thought. Dread points to the plastic bottles shipwrecked on the banks of the brook, and a discarded trolly.
I open my front door again, and I lock him behind me. I know it's not long before Dread finds a way back in, but for now I can return to Middle Earth and YouTube.