For weeks and weeks, we just ignored it. We moved on with life like everything was normal. As a species, we’re not very good with change. Even when the change is drastic, we so badly want life to stay the same that we’ll ignore the very thing that’s changing us until it’s too late.
When it began, it began in a very subtle way. The guy a few cubes over got itchy. You know him. The guy with the long hair and weird eyes?
The overweight, red-headed woman that you say “good morning” to in the hall every day as you turn the first corner was late. You met her at the end of the hallway instead of the beginning. You still said “Hi”. She smiled, but her skin was tighter than usual. Her smile was slightly strained. Her skin slightly red. You imagine she was prettier when she was younger and more fit.
The janitor has scratches on his face. He still pushed the mop bucket down the hall, touching up spots where coffee sloshed over the edge of cups as men in suits hurried to their meetings. He was always a little strange.
You barely noticed over the next few days that your monitor had much more dust on it. You’re usually so clean; regularly wiping down your desk and screen. Fingerprints on the LCD; it just so difficult to ignore. But you’ve just been so busy. You likely forgot. With all the extra work this time of year, you can ignore some extra dust.
The woman in the cube next to you used to be so friendly, but recently became frequently irritated and you wonder what changed. It must be something in her home life and as such, none of your business. The timeline on this project has been so crazy that, heck, you barely noticed your own behavioral changes with your family. But you’ll make it better once the busy season over. You’ll go somewhere together. You never noticed your wife’s incessant scratching. You never noticed your own.
Red spots began appearing on the carpet that leads to the bathroom. No one wears white anymore. You used to enjoy when people wore white. It made you think of purity. What happened to purity? The woman in the cube next to you only wears black or scarlet. Those colors don’t make you think of purity.
Why is there so much dust everywhere?
Your wife bleeds all the time. She won’t stop scratching. You won’t stop scratching. Your house is becoming very dirty.
No one is in the office. No one shows up for work anymore. We have so much work to do. You can’t understand why they aren’t worried about this deadline like you are. Why won’t the scratches heal faster than you can inflict them?
The deadline comes and goes and you’ve done amazing work. And you should be proud, with the work having become harder and harder to complete as the flesh became more and more raw.
Your wife is meat. The skin long since having left the body, as each cell gave up on each other, broke bonds, and floated away in the breeze, traveling great distances in hopes to live again as something new, or simply clogging the air filter.
Separate, but collectively, we backed up exhausts, plugged drains, and mounded up on fences as though a global snow storm unleashed is entire contents at once upon the earth. Drifts piling higher than flood walls, pouring over and out of the cities, turning banks of oceans into human mud.