300-word story: A successful man reflects on the limitations of a perfect existence.
People have always said that I come from good stock. My family was never wealthy or high up the social ladder, but we were well known for our traditional values and active lifestyle. Complete strangers would spot us in the street and stare, certain they knew us somehow. Mentally confirming we were neither friend nor neighbour, they would simply nod, smile and continue on their way. It was a childhood spent being familiar to all whilst close to none: a unique form of loneliness to which few can relate.
Looking through photo albums, the memories are almost too perfect. My dad carving the turkey as my mum, sister and I eagerly await our festive feast; scoring the winning goal without a bead of sweat or stray hair spoiling my appearance; the day I landed a C-level role, shaking hands with my athletic boss with the salt-and-pepper beard. These are the foundations of a flawless life built on hard work, collaboration and unrelenting wholesomeness.
My present is the natural continuation of this sugary-sweet past. A modern home perpetually basked in golden sunlight. Female mirror image for a wife, with trim frame and teeth so white that they outshine the stars. Two children, a boy and a girl, who quietly play board games and colour within the lines. On weekends we walk through fields of wheat or leave footprints along immaculate beaches. Every step, a journey; each moment, an eternity.
It may sound like a dream come true, this freeze-frame world of love, virtue and success, yet there’s a void in my soul. What I wouldn’t give for some scandal, a little smut, a pointless argument, even just a day spent doing nothing of value. Tragically, these commonplace activities are beyond my reach. Such is the fate of a stock photo man.
Copyright © 2020 Rich Sutherland
Image: Andrew Neel