My Head Is Killing Me

unhappy with job
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Short Story


My head is killing me.

I get up from my desk and walk over to the water cooler. It’s 3:00pm and I’m not sure if it’s still Monday or not. I drag my feet over the ugly beige carpet past the rows of cubicles and the machines inside them. The cheap gas station aspirin slides down my throat as I take a gulp of water.

“Hey Josh!” I hear an annoyingly cheerful voice say to me.

“Hey Emily.”

“We’re going out for John’s birthday after work. Wanna come? It’s at this new bar called the Daily Grind.”

“Ok.” I say, unenthusiastically. “I’ll have to make sure I don’t have anything going on.”

I walk back to my desk and pretend to look through some things. I don’t want her to know I have nothing going on.

“I think I can make it.” I tell her.

I sit down and stare at my computer screen for a good hour. My head continues to pulse with pain and it is making it hard to focus on anything else. I look at the clock; it’s 4:30. In only thirty more minutes I’ll be heading to celebrate some guy’s birthday that only talked to me one time in the break room. He probably won’t even know I work at the same company.

My head is killing me.

I walk to the water cooler again and fill a cup. When I sit down at my desk I pull out the bottle of cheap aspirin. I swallow one. I swallow another one. I swallow all of them. I empty the bottle like it was full of little candies.

At 5:00 I get up and walk to the elevator. I feel like I’m hovering above the floor as I make my way across the room with the rest of the office cattle. As the elevator descends, I begin to sweat. I feel a horrible pain in my stomach. I wonder if any of these people care? I could collapse right now, and they would just step over my body as they exited the elevator. Everyone becomes a nihilist on Mondays.

In the lobby I see Emily. She is wearing purple clothes. No wait, never mind, the whole lobby looks purple. I’m trying my hardest not to fall over as I walk towards her.

“Hey Emily. How do I get to the Daily Grind?” I ask her, barely able to compose myself.

“Oh hey Josh! Me and a couple friends are going to drive there. If you want to wait a few minutes, you can ride with us!”

I sit on a bench outside next to the street. I feel like I am at a carnival. It’s hot, I’m spinning around, and my stomach feels like it wants to exit my body. I watch all the people walking down the sidewalk. They remind me of ants. The more I think about it, the more they start to resemble ants. I see a bunch of giant insects with dark, oily skin, scurrying across the pavement.

One of the ants driving a van stops in front of me. “Hop in!” It says in an annoyingly cheerful voice. It’s Emily.

As we make our way down the road, I feel very nauseous. There are two girls and a guy in the van all talking to each other. It sounds like they are speaking some other language. Every now and then they look at me as if I’m supposed to join into their nonsensical conversation. Their talking turns to white noise, as I grow more and more sleepy. We pull up to the bar and I get out.

The next moment I am in the bar. I have no idea how long I have been in here. I look around. People are laughing and talking loudly over some thumping music.

I notice that my vision is starting to fade. I have to squint to see anything. I see some of my coworkers across the room. Maybe I should mingle with them. The music begins to blend together into a ringing droning sound.

I am holding a beer in my hand. I take a drink and immediately feel like I have to vomit.

I can’t.

I don’t want to.

Fuck it.

I make my way towards the restroom. Maybe I’ll tell my future kids about this night.

Emily and some guy interrupt my progress.

“Josh! You haven’t said hi to the birthday boy yet!”

Never mind. I’m going to die.

She motions to a man standing next to her. This must be John.

“Hi, John. Happy Birthday.’

All of a sudden I can’t hold it in anymore. I vomit all over Emily and John with the force of a geyser.

Happy birthday, John.

I faintly hear Emily screaming, but it sounds far off as everything darkens around me. I feel the sensation of falling, but I never feel the impact of the floor. I black out.

“What’s wrong?”

I wake to see an EMT kneeling over me, shining a small flashlight in my eye. I am lying on the floor of the bar. My coworkers are all standing around in a circle staring at me. Some of them have their phones pointed at me.


I don’t really know what’s wrong. It’s a Monday. I got a parking ticket this morning. I threw up on Emily. Oh, and I swallowed a whole bottle of cheap aspirin, that too.

I look up at the EMT.

“Sir? What’s wrong?”

“My head is killing me.” I say.



photograph by Chris Davis


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