You hate the shirt you’re wearing.
Its white with green stripes, and you hate green. A girl across the street looks at you funny, “its obviously cause of the shirt”, you tell yourself, you walk faster and lower your neck in an attempt to hide the collar. It doesn’t work. The collar is too big, the fundi you gave the job of cutting it down to size did a poor job, and now the shirt looks like it had a collar transplant. From one old shirt to another. You cuss and walk faster, although the worn collar is probably because it’s been washed too many times, you swear that this is the last time you’ll wear it. You kick out at a rock in anger, because you know you just lied to yourself, a count of your ‘wearable’ shirts reveals this is among the good ones.
There is a new guard at the reception, he looks at you suspiciously as you walk up. “Probably thinks I don’t work here, cause of the condition of my shirt”, you give him a frown. In return, he gives you a search you are sure he reserves for people he considers ‘terrorists’. You feel violated, especially when you look back and see him smiling at people with better shirts, letting them through without a search. Your boss needs to look into your salary, there is no way his office assistant will be treated like this.
You emerge from the restroom ten minutes later, although you are sure no one will notice the effort you put into folding the collar. The secretary is busy on her Lumia as always, and she waves at you dismissively. Its clear she’s on the phone with one of her many boyfriends, you stand there like a student waiting to be caned, “what?”, she mouths to you, you try mouth back “keys” but she doesn’t understand, she looks away agitatedly. You fumble for a key in your pocket, to show her, but your search only brings up chewing gum wrappers and bus tickets. You sigh and grit your teeth, you need to move out of your mum’s house and get your own house, if you had your own house, you’d have your own keys. Probably even better shirts, and a Lumia with blue tiles, your favorite color.
You finally get the keys, although they are thrown at you with disgust. “One day I’ll employ a prettier girl than you, one with smaller breasts and a bigger brain” your cold eyes seem to tell her. You open the boss’ office, and start cleaning, even if he’s away on business, the fifteen thousand he pays you won’t allow him to let you sit around and tweet about a policewoman’s posterior. The door opens and Deb, the secretary walks in, she looks at you with even more disgust, “King’atua, what that on your collar?”, “WOULD IT KILL YOU TO CALL ME K??” you seem to ask with a frown on your face. You follow her eyes to your collar, a little cockroach is running over it, with the source evidently being the patches and tears on your collar. You remove the shirt to expose a yellowing vest, a vest that has surely over-served its purpose. She looks at you, and you cuss your old vest for giving her reason to give you a look that says “that vest right there is the reason I would never touch you with a ten-foot pole”, she smirks and whips out her phone, “Oooh no! this vest is not going on twitter so you and your barbiedoll pals can laugh at me”. You run across the room like an MCA chasing salary increments.
From the corner of your eye, you see the door open. You see her boyfriend with a rose and a bar of chocolate. You see him see your hands on her wrist. You see him look at your shirt on one end of the room. You see the flowers drop. He charges like a mad bull. He is a mad bull. He is a ninety kg mad bull. You feel him charge into you.
You hear Deb screaming.
You taste blood.
You feel the punches.
Then for a while your world goes blank.
Not a sound, not a sight, not a smell.
Then it comes back to you.
You see the mean ‘askari’ from downstairs, he saved your life. Levin would have killed you. He didn’t hear Deb tell him to stop. He only saw you attempt to force yourself on his girl. He is sitted in the corner. He is breathing like a mad bull. He is a mad bull. Someone brings you your shirt. You are sure there are no more cockroaches left in there. Levin stands up, he starts walking in your direction. The guard and Deb flee to one side of the room. You see death. It is coming and you can do nothing. Your mouth is dry. Your heart is beating. You can feel your pants get wet from your emptying bladder. You give a weak cry. He raises his fist, suspending you like a rag doll.
You scream at the top of your lungs.
Someone is pounding at the door. You wake up sweating. Breathing like a scared bull. You open the door. It’s your mum, she has a worried look, “Davidson, ne kee kioru?”, you look at her in a daze. You head over to your half-empty wardrobe. You pick out the green and white shirt. You hand it to your mum. “mihiane ruciu”.
You close the door. Its 5:50 a.m. no need to go back to sleep. You gave away the shirt, so you have to wear a tee shirt tomorrow. It’s okay though.
You always hated that shirt.