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“Sundays” (2006) — The Skeleton News

An irritating laugh, milliseconds too slow, so you can almost see the individual “HA’s” exiting the mouth and whisping through air that was formerly limitless potential, a Switzerland of possibility, now laden with the anvil of someone else’s emotional expression. O Sunday! A kitchen cabinet that won’t stay shut, so that in the hazy fugue, lunging from bed towards the coffeemaker, you slam my head on the cabinet’s sharp edge, and unleash a whirling dervish of pent-up aggression. O blackest Sabbath! Walking around in the cold with a pack of muttering, sweatered losers to find all reasonably-priced dining establishments closed, so ending up at the strip mall, eating greasy-face at Cici’s Pizza’s, the damnable 4.50 buffet, blessing and curse of “eat when I’m really hungry and do my taxes the night before” troglodytes such as myself. Cici’s, to the procrastinating eater what Japan is to doctrinaire free-marketeer.

Sunday damnable Sunday! O, Ye coldest of days, settling like a frost on your insides that no amount of scalding coffee or hot showers can warm. Waste treatment facility for six days of carelessly flushed problems and moral depravity. Sitting outside of the rhythmic pulse of the workweek but also without the godless hedonism of the weekend, Sunday exists as an anomaly in these most impious of times having long since ceased to function as a day of rest and devout worship. Curtailed business hours, freaky displays of evangelistic Christianity, and emphasis on the family only serve to drive home the resounding 21st century sense of loss – On Sunday our Puritan ancestors roll over in their graves and biting their rotten thumbs at our untenable and godless society. Our bodies reverberate the deep subterranean vibrations of their disapproval leaving behind those deep, oft-inexplicable feelings of shame and malaise. Not only are we cursed as groundskeepers and sole proprietors of this pointless concrete forest but we are also boozeless, sexless, irritated by our crumbling or broken families and unable to avoid them by going shopping.

What’s left? A vast netherworld of non-practicing but loosely affiliated Judeo-Christians racked with religious guilt waking up late with relatively few distractions? If variety is the spice of life, distraction is for most people what the potatoes were for the Irish. Existing as a purgatorial space between leisure and employ, Sunday affords enough time to brood on the impending work week, along with the sense of powerlessness and dread you get when you’re on a slow-moving ship unmistakably destined to collide with a distant iceberg. Or for people like me who wouldn’t notice the difference between week and weekend if it weren’t for posted business hours, enough time to dwell on how I’m going to fill my Monday other than walking very, very slowly to the post office.

Sunday evening at six, at my office, my favorite polyurethaned Barnes and Nobles coffee table, a booming voice announces over the intercom that they’re closing in ten minutes. A resounding sigh of resignation rolls across the country by time zones, fog rolling over the burnt ochre of austere Northeastern cemeteries in Autumn, gliding over beaten tombstones full of lost dreams, unborn plans, with plenty of real estate for a dull, agonizing future. People trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their Sunday evening, with the rest of their lives. Watch some more crappy sitcoms? Work on another self-indulgent niche magazine? A weekly life-crisis. The jelly-like stasis inescapable except in the jaws of sleep or the self-loss in fulfilling work. No right or wrong way out. Only providence seized upon and opportunities missed, flickering ghosts of chance. Never reaching towards the grandiose. Put on some mac and cheese and set the oven to a low-simmer. It’ll be over soon enough. What else can you do but wait for tomorrow.


Aaron Lake Smith

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