What is Free Time

Everything due,

All at once, my time is sparse,

And my schedule full

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Discomfort

Yes, dress pants were very nice. In fact, the entire ensemble of pants, shirt tie and jacket was quite lovely. Black of course. Why anyone wore suits that weren’t black remained quite a mystery to me. Although, to be fair, my suit did have some almost black, dark blue pinstripes. But if anything, they just highlighted the black.

But the pants. Yes. Very nice, well-tailored, hemmed neatly, and looked very good in photographs. Horrendous to sit in. Likely because most tailors measure your pants when you are standing, pants have this funny little habit of only fitting properly when you are standing. Jeans had a similar problem, but it wasn’t quite to the same extent. Denim had a bit of stretch to it, whatever you make suits out of, they most certainly do not.

So, I had elected to stand. Sure, there were plenty of open seats, but sore knees after a few hours of standing were well worth it, if it meant I could avoid the weird, bunching up, and pinching of my pants when I sat down.

The speaker would probably only talk for fifteen to twenty more minutes at most anyways, then the rest of the night would be spent “mingling” as it had been decreed we had to do tonight.

So, that’s what we did. We mingled. We met the alumni, and the distinguished persons, and the other rich old people. We discussed the how the team did this fall,

No, we did not get the banner,

Yes, we were very close,

I’m sure we will get it next year.

It was around the time the old people were asking about the state of our equipment and training facilities that I began to question my outfit. Yes, my outfit was smart, and I looked good, and others were wearing similar outfits. But, I had yet to successfully get a donation.

Some of the other girls wore dresses, and some wore suits, and some wore some combination of pants and blouse. But based on whose pens were moving, on which clipboards, it seemed that dresses were winning the evening.

This invited a new discomfort. Not the same discomfort the pants created when I sat down, but definitely related to the pants. I had never been a confident girl, which may have been why I leaned away from dresses and towards pants. Yet here I was, feeling the sting of betrayal, from a pair a pants. It had been some time since I felt like this.

I began to edge my way to the doors on the left side of the room. The bathroom was just on the other side, and I hadn’t been all night. This seemed like an excellent time to use the facilities. So, I said my ‘excuse me’s and I snaked my way through the crowd to the left side of the hall. It felt like I was making zero headway. I took 30 steps, but the door didn’t get any closer. I passed the man with the silver moustache at least twice on my journey to the door. And that little table with the desserts, I must have walked past it a good 3 times. At least three times, I had eaten three of those chocolate desserts.

And then I was through the doors.

You don’t realize how warm a room full of people until you step out of that room. The cool air washed over me, and I took a deep breath and glanced around the room for the door to the bathroom. It was where I had been told it would be, nestled on the east wall, a red-ish wood, with a brass oval with the typical silhouette of the female figure. Very typical for any restaurant or banquet hall.

I heard my shoes clacking on the floor for the first time since the gala began as I hurried into the bathroom. I immediately went for the sink. I turned on the hot water, only the hot water, and I let the burning sensation cover my hands. I put the tips of my fingers, palm up, under the little soap dispenser, and the small motor inside made a slight whirring noise as it deposited the familiar white foamy public bathroom soap onto my waiting fingertips.

I went through the motions of washing my hands, because I didn’t really need to wash them. But the hot water, and the almost sceptic smelling soap cleared my head a little bit. The longer I washed my hands, the clearer my head got.

I felt as if my hands had been under the sink for hours. But my head was clear. I turned off the tap and reached to the right where the paper towels were. I grabbed a handful of them to dry my hands.

Oh gross, it was the harsh brown kind.

My hands, now dry, I gently dropped the wadded-up ball of paper towel into the small cutout in the sink counter and looked at myself in the mirror.

I looked at my face for the first time since I had finished applying my makeup earlier that afternoon. I noted the streaks of mascara that slowly faded into streaks of foundation.

I had been crying. I don’t know when I started.

Oh god, who saw?

Anger

It was a new feeling. Not the feeling of anger, that had been felt before, and not even a greater intensity of anger. No, this was a different kind of anger. Where before he had punched walls and thrown chairs, this was a calm anger. Despite the rage bubbling underneath, everything was calm and collected. His breathing was even, his heart rate no different than if he was reading a book by the fire. His hands maintained that steadiness, carefully groomed over years of writing, and drawing.
What was new was the blood. The phrase my blood boils flitted across his mind. It was accurate, he decided. There was a burning in his veins and arteries, that began at the centre of his chest and spread right to his toes and the crown of his head.
Their was a fine line between pleasurably warm, and uncomfortably hot, and his veins danced on this line. For a few seconds the heat was soothing, almost relaxing, the next it made his toes curl in discomfort.
He focused on his breathing next. It had continued at the steady in and out that one could expect from someone lying down. So he began to count his breaths. When he reached 10 he moved on to the next step.
He let his left eye slowly shut, focusing on the picture in his right.
He counted his breaths again. 10 once more.
He moved his finger from where it was resting on the cool aluminum half circle to just inside of it. He gently pushed his finger forward, and waited for the audible click.
When he heard the click he changed his breathing. No longer a steady in an out, but a mechanical in, hold, out, hold, and repeat. So he did.
In.
Hold.
Out.
Hold.
In.
Hold.
Out.
Hold.
In.
Hold.
And on this out, with the precision of years of practice, thousands of hours dedicated to mastering this one aspect, he let his breath out.
The moment his breath had left his body and his lungs were empty, he squeezed his finger back towards his palm.
With a crack that left his ears ringing, and a sharp kick to his shoulder, he watched the little dot of light trace its way through the sky for a brief second and a half.
Then with a puff of brown he watched the wooden board buckle and twist, and for a moment appear to be ready to fall over, but then right itself. All this, over a thousand metres away.
With his ears still ringing, and his limbs burning where he knew his blood flowed, he got up, and he left.
Still angry.