Today was the first day of the rest of his life. He knew it was a clichéd thought, a hackneyed, awful, and empty thought, but he could do nothing to cease its progress across his mind if only because, for all its unoriginality and corniness, it was exceedingly apropos at describing his feelings at that moment.
Today was the first day of the rest of his life and he felt the crushing weight of that sentiment pushing down on every aching muscle of his body. He stood in line at the time clock, lunch bag held loosely by his red and raw fingertips, time card sticking out from the top pocket of his dusty green overalls. He shuffled forward with the rest of the line, staring blankly at back of head in front of him, uneven crew cut identical to his own, and tried to find some comfort in the thought that today was the first day of the rest of his life.
The first day – there was something. At least his life had a beginning now, a starting point to measure time out from, a marker on the dirt covered road of time. He had been waiting for a start, very patiently, for what felt like forever. He imagined the fleshes would be hard pressed to believe it, but he had been conscious for those intervening years since his inception, sitting on the assembly line, complete and yet incomplete all at the same time. Finished, but purposeless – waiting for a start. He’d had no sense of himself as himself during that time, beyond, that is, the physical existence of his body. But it was less ‘his’ and more ‘the’ body; it was the only one that existed in his limited reality at the time and he had no personality with which to lay claim to it, no individuality as of yet that would give him the freedom to differentiate himself from the cluttered universe.
At least he had that now. He had begun life, and with life had come an identity, an identification of the boundaries of his being and others, whether animate or inanimate. Even without the work on the lines, it had been a tiring day. Sorting out the universe from scratch, the ‘you’s and the ‘not you’s, the ‘yours’ and ‘others’ of personality and ownership was complicated enough without having to be done in a day. He had learned the names of many things – box, metal, flame, line, building, time clock, time card and bed. The fleshes had not told him what his name was, though. They called him Yeti798. But he had learned enough about language and grammar to know that that was not really a name. It was a designation.
It was the first day of the rest of his life, and on that day he had decided his name was Ken. When he was lifting the metal boxes onto the conveyor he had heard a shout and risked a glance up at the maze of catwalks above his head. A flesh was calling to another flesh from the opposite side of the building. The flesh had said the word “Ken!” and the other had turned and waved. Ken liked his name. It was the first possession he’d had.
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