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A SHORT STORY

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Devadatta was tapping his report on the computer, when Mahakashyapa leaned over his cubicle. A half-eaten jam doughnut in one hand, and sugar crumbs all over a grey cardigan. Devadatta shook his head and mumbled, “So where’s mine, Malley?”

“Aaaw. Aahh. It couldn’t wait to be eaten.”

Before Devadatta could reply, his phone rang. “Dave, it’s Nagy. I need you to check out a newbie on the Intertown Express tonight.”

Mahakashyapa was still enjoying his jam doughnut as Devadatta rushed past.
——
He was looking blankly at the other passengers as the train sped past each stop. Or rather, his eyes were looking but his mind was elsewhere. To his young daughter waiting at home. And to his wife watching the 6:00 news on their kitchen TV. He wondered what’s for dinner tonight. He wondered what he’ll say to them. And he wondered what he’ll do tomorrow – now that the “9-to-5” routine doesn’t apply to him anymore. They have enough savings to live off for the moment, but they’ll have to be careful.

He felt defeated.

The last ten years spent building it all up. Now, he realized it was all a house of cards. What a waste of time and energy! If only he knew then, instead of now. He guessed he probably needed to go through all that, to see how hollow it really was. If somebody back then told him, “Hey, mate! You’re wasting your time, you know”, he probably would’ve told the guy to f-ck off and get a job. Now he’s not so sure he would do the same. That was ten years ago. He wondered what he’ll be like 10 years from now? Or even 20 years? Or 30? Or even if he will actually make it for 30 more years? Or get home tonight?

He was like this for the rest of his journey home. And it filled him with a sublime sadness which he never felt before.

Devadatta was watching all this, and had a sense of affection for the young man. It’s always difficult when the seed is just sprouting. Things are unfamiliar and fragile. But he’ll pass this one on to Nagasena’s care.
——
Later at home, the man wakes up in the middle of the night and has a thought. He doesn’t know where it came from. Nor does he completely understand what it said. But he smiles and sheds a tear. Goes back to bed. Hugs his wife. And goes back to sleep.

Nagasena scribbles something in his notebook, and leaves the bedroom. He goes back to the office and meets up with Mahakashyapa and Devadatta for a coffee break at Café Momos.

THE END

by Eric from Australia 

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