Brine

I wake up with an overwhelming urge to cry, but, since today’s going to be a busy day, I decide to cry later. I leave for the office and arrive just in time for the first meeting of the day. While the general manager reads a report about increased costs and reduced expenses (or vice versa), I draw a hammer and sickle on a notepad. There is a sack of tears still rolling around in my stomach and, sooner or later, I’ll have to pop it. Once in my office, I choose suppliers and go over spreadsheets. At two o’clock I put on my blazer and rush out, so as not to be late to the meeting with my son’s teacher. I get to the school at the same time as my ex. During the conference, the teacher addresses me more than her, and this makes me uncomfortable, although perhaps I only pick up on it because I don’t like what I’m hearing. The boy’s having problems, she says. He’s easily distracted and he’s been biting his classmates, especially the—she stresses the adjective—Sub-Saharan girls. I promise to take measures, despite the fact that, since the judge’s visitation rights only let me see my son every other weekend, there’s not a lot I can do. As we’re saying goodbye, the ex and I try to find a date to discuss it in more detail, but we’re both in a hurry and we end up going our separate ways with a less-than-convincing, “We’ll talk.” Despite the gridlock, I make it back in time for a potential client project presentation. I propose strategies, project graphs, and knock myself out in an attempt to wow the client company’s manager—who I believe forms a favorable impression—into contracting our services. Afterward, the secretary asks for my advice. In a tiny, self-pitying voice, she explains that she has an offer from a multinational and she’s trying to figure out whether this is the ideal time for a change or not. Since I want the best for her, I tell her to go ahead and take the job. When I realize that my response has thrown her off, I deduce that she was simply using a nonexistent offer to negotiate, through me, a raise. I’m disappointed but don’t say so, since surely at one point or another I have disappointed her, too. I take a vasodilator and, before leaving for the day, make a few calls, speaking with my mother (“I’m going to come on Saturday instead of Sunday”), my sister (“I sent you the samples, all but one, which they still haven’t gotten in yet”), and the company indoor-soccer team captain’s voicemail (“I’ll bring the ball”). When I get home, I have dinner: a can of tuna in brine and a yogurt. I lounge on the sofa awhile, calculating how many hours away the weekend with my son is. I undress in the bedroom. Standing in front of the mirror, I pinch my love handles. I brush my teeth and floss until I bleed. Sitting on the bed, I ponder the idea of masturbating. I refrain. After hesitating for a moment, during which I ask myself if there’s anything I haven’t done and respond to myself that there’s not, I turn off the light, get into bed, and begin to cry, with my face in the pillow so as not to disturb the neighbors.