Not the Worst Idea

fiction
Trail Closed

As he lay on the couch with his knees crooked into a cushion, Gaige thumbs the remote controller with all the passion of windchime on a dull summer afternoon. The screen scrolls, flipping from tile to tile, marketing clips from a seemingly endless collection of television shows and movies springing to life and blurting out sound and music and narrations for a flash of a second until Gaige flips to the next, over and over and over.

“Are you going to watch something?” Scarlett asks, finally.

“Don’t know.”

“Are you sore?” She asks after another long moment of fleeting film previews. “You’re arm, I mean. Do you need to take something.”

“It’s fine.” Gaige shrugs limply from his prone position on the couch. “I’ll be fine.”

“It’s just that you’ve been laying there for almost an hour and —“ she trails off, sighs and adds. “—something is bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?”

“Don’t know.”

“Laying there like a pouting teenager is not doing either of us any good. If you’re hurting take some damn aspirin.” She says. “I know you can’t run yet, but go for a walk — something.”

“It’s not my arm.” He says without looking away from the screen. “It’s — it’s fine.”

“It’s not fine.” She scolds. “You can’t just lay there all day, just go to work and then flop on the couch for the rest of your life. The doctor said you’ve got to—“

“I’m fine.” He says, not shouting but his voice creeping in that direction. “It was just a shitty work day, and this arm, and I’m — just sick of it.”

“What about work?”

“It was nothing. Just one of those days when you feel like you’re spinning out and — I don’t know — on the wrong side of it all. You know— working for the wrong reasons.”

“It’s a job.”

“It’s how I’m spending my life. Every day. It’s why I went to school, right? To get a good job. To make a difference.” He says, finally looking up at his grilfriend, who is standing at the edge of the condo hallway leaning against a wall with sad frown hung all across her face. “When I can balance that out with — you know — friends and family and getting out into nature—“ Gaige trails off and shrugs.

“Quit then.” She says after another moment. “Find something else.”

“It’s all the same shit show.” He turns back to the screen. “I just want to do something I can be proud of — build something — to be a part of something worth more than writing code to prop up a bunch of bad ideas.”

Scarlett stares intently at the back of Gaige’s head as he lays prone on the couch. “Like what, then?”

“Don’t know. Living life bigger than this. Not just laying here scrolling through Netflix.” He says, and turns his head back to look at her again. “Having an adventure.”

“If you’d be happier.” She shruggs. “But how does that pay our rent?”

“That Marrs couple do it.” He says, barely hesitating. “They make a go of it, I think.”

Scarlett quirks her head ever so slightly, quizzically. “The YouTubers?” She asks finally. “You want to be an internet video star?”

“It’s not the worst idea.”