Derek

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Derek was not a morning person. He wasn’t much of a daytime persona at all, really–still, this morning seemed even worse than usual. Whether it was the hangover from the night before, or the heist he was planning for the night to come, he just didn’t feel one hundred percent. Derek checked his phone. Four missed calls, all of them from Judy.

Ah, this day’s off to a great start. He groaned as he rolled out of bed. Being a bit more disoriented than usual, he failed to notice the lamp sitting innocently next to his bed in the usual fashion. Eye collided with lamp.

“AH! STUPID MORNINGS!” His head erupted with pain, and he clutched at it, cursing his loud voice. He glanced at Kenny, the resident goldfish. Kenny gurgled mockingly. “Shut up, Kenny,” Derek grumbled, making his way to the bathroom.

He opened the door and stumbled in, catching himself on the sink. He looked into the mirror. “Today will work out,” Derek promised himself. “Always does. So long as the morning ends at its usual hour.” The mirror ignored him, opting to display a crude portrait of a sandy-haired thirty-three-year-old grimacing into the sink.

As the reluctant toothpaste oozed out onto the toothbrush, Derek tried to remember what he’d said to Judy, his ex, the night before. Dialing Judy to apologize, he began brushing his teeth. Lord knew he wouldn’t be doing most of the talking. The bristles skittered nervously across clenched teeth, and the call went through.

One ring. There’s still time to run.

Two rings. Maybe she won’t pick up and I’ll still be able to say that I tried.

 “Can I help you?” The stern voice challenged, a thick cloud of rage instantly filling up the cramped bathroom, leaving no room for hope.

Derek removed the frothy toothbrush from his mouth, and began to speak in the most genuine tone of voice he’d ever used. “Hey, Judy, about last night, I can-“

“No you can’t! You can’t do anything, Derek! That’s the problem!” 

Derek resumed brushing his teeth, past experience telling him that the opening rant would last at least nine minutes and twelve seconds. 

“You have neither the right nor the capacity to do anything! If you took a shot every time you didn’t do something, you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning! And speaking of which, you got wasted again last night, didn’t you? I knew it! You said you’d quit, you gave your word, not that that’s ever meant anything, I don’t know how many times your word failed to mean anything. Which is just like you! You fail to…” The angry tirade continued with no signs of slowing down.

As Derek brushed, he searched clumsily through his badly organized cabinet for some aspirin. He found a nearly empty bottle, popped it open, and saw four pills left. They rolled out onto his open palm.

“Mhmm, uh huh,” he intoned into the cellphone squished against the side of his face, neck bent to keep it there.

“I can’t believe that I ever thought for a second that you would even…”

He set the phone down on the fake marble sink-top, rinsed out his mouth vigorously, and launched the pills down his esophagus. They tumbled in, one after another, rushing toward their destiny; their destruction.

Then, it happened. The sole most important moment of all his life presented itself to him like a choir of angels singing and gliding down from the Heavens, each carrying a million dollars and a plate of sushi. At that moment, he heard…a bounce.

Derek looked down. He noticed a light green super ball rolling along the floor. It rolled along nonchalantly, coming to a stop against the side of his bare foot. Hm, that’s weird. I don’t remember owning any of those.

Another small green sphere rolled around the back of his heel. Then another. What the-? Derek picked up his foot and took a step back. And stumbled. And fell. More green super balls were rolling and bouncing along the hard tile floor of the tiny bathroom. They bumped against the walls, each other, and Derek.

He reached out to free his feet from the long sweatpants legs, which had wrapped around them. His hand brushed against a smooth, rubbery sphere inside the pants. With growing apprehension, he slowly drew back the pant leg. Green super balls spilled out like water through a hole in a dam. Derek shrieked. He shrieked in terror to see that his legs were disintegrating into a tiny army of innocent green super balls. He grabbed at his phone frantically.

Judy, of course, was still going full steam. Maybe even two-hundred percent steam. “And I’ll bet you both of my kidneys he still has it to this very-“

“Judy! You gotta help me!”

Judy laughed scornfully. “You can’t even help you!”

“No, I’m falling apart! Please!”

“If you think the old sob story will bring me back, you’ve got a whole other thing coming!”

Derek was now standing on what remained of his knees, gripping the sink for support. “Please, I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t pull myself back together! I–“

“Save it for somebody who cares, Derek!”

If his tear ducts had not begun transforming into green rubber spheres just then, he may have started crying. “Please, you have to help me, I’m changing into-!”

“You always say you’re gonna change, but you never do!”

His fingers then fell off and bounced away. He tried to cry out, but his vocal chords had inconveniently rolled into the shower. His phone clattered to the floor and his right ear, now a collection of four balls, was huddled around the phone, politely listening to every word Judy said.

He didn’t know what was worse: turning into a pile of super balls for the rest of eternity, or listening to her rant for another three hours and forty seven minutes until his phone died.

He was now just a sentient sea of spherical super balls. It was strange – he seemed to be aware of every single ball. He knew that if he could actually move them, he might even be able to reassemble himself. He flexed an imaginary muscle. No luck. For the time being, he was stuck on the floor.

Judy drawled on, oblivious. “…you’re such a mess, you know that?”

Two green super balls, which had previously made up Derek’s eyebrows, wobbled angrily.

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