Taking Drastic Measures

Around mid-morning one day, you realize that everything that is happening seems really familiar.  After much thought you discover that your life has fallen into a terrible rut and now you must take drastic measures to find a way out of it. Write the scene where you make a life-changing decision.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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166 thoughts on “Taking Drastic Measures

  1. dlhockey3

    Being skunked was embarrassing. He jigged. Nothing. Cursing, he stoked the woodstove, poured coffee, and brought up a line for inspection. He caught a lively minnow from the bucket, disgustedly shaking his head at the memory of his morning stumble and spilled bait. Distracted, he hooked the minnow and his thumb. He swore – loudly this time, and slammed the jig into the hole. His luck had to change soon! He’d restock supplies and stay until he caught some damn fish – make it happen!

    He hit bottom. He reeled to bring the minnow six inches up and waited, glaring angrily at the bobber. Suddenly, he heard the painful grunting and squeaking of snow crushed under footfalls. The bobbers lurched side to side, ice shoving the water beneath.

    “Jimmy Jacobson? Care to visit an old fisherman?”

    Outside, Jimmy blinked, adjusting to sunlight and surprise! Here stood John Thorgard, his childhood fishing partner, who had moved South 25 years ago! Enthusiastically, Jimmy shook John’s gloved hand. He invited John into the house and, apologizing that it wasn’t very warm, shared his story of “Rookie Forgetfulness” and depleted firewood.

    “Not to worry,” John announced. “My Son-In-Law must have a cord of wood. Planning to ice-fish until August, maybe? I’m taking a truckload home now.” Eagerly, he darted out the door, returning with an armful. Soon, the Ice house was cheerfully cozy. Jimmy produced an extra cup and poured coffee.

    They sat back to relate personal highlights of 25 years. The familiar rhythm of John’s voice, hinting Scandinavian heritage, flooded Jimmy with memories. The boys had loved all fishing, but Ice Fishing best. It perfectly combined adventure, survival, and freedom. The friends were soon reminiscing about their childhood fishing expeditions.

    “Remember your brilliant idea to make your Beagle a sled dog? What was his name?”

    John winced, remembering. “Bubba. Not my fault!”

    “You said ‘Tie the sled to Bubba’s collar. He’ll follow us and do all the work’.”

    “Couldn’t know he’d spot a rabbit!” defended John.

    Jimmy scoffed. “No rabbit! He was chasing shadows, howling and yowling, our sled bouncing along behind him, across the lake and through the woods. I can still see our gear flying in every direction. Took half the day to collect it and half for Bubba to bring our sled back! The look on his face . . . like we’d be proud of him!”

    “He was a good dog,” John said tenderly.

    “That he was.”

    Two chunks of firewood later, John reluctantly stood to leave.

    “Hope my Son-In-Law knows the limit – hate to see him fined first time out. Poor City Kid,” John sighed, shaking his head gloomily. “Takes about 50 years for learning the fun of an Ice house is the fishin’, not the catchin’.”

    Securing the door, Jimmy listened to the snow crunch under his friend’s boots, thoughtfully watching the bobbers swaying on gentle waves from the shifting ice.

    “Couple hours for reminding.”

    Jimmy fished all afternoon, an occasional chuckle bubbling up from a distant memory.

  2. Beans25

    I stood behind Jerry and rubbed my forehead, trying to focus on Rossman. A light somewhere in the office flickered. The lights here always flickered.
    “Our reports are in for the week, people. Our numbers are growing, and I just want to say that I’m very pleased with our performance this month.” I bent my neck back and stared the ceiling fan above. My life was going in circles and my head was swelling like a balloon. “But I just want to say that you’ve all done a terrific job. We’re doing a lot better than last week, and our numbers are better every day.” My eyes started burning and someone behind me sneezed. I waited for Brian to say Gazuntite.
    “Gazuntite!” Brian said.
    “Tomorrow’s casual day, so you can all try out those new company shirts. It’ll be a t-shirt party.” Rossman gave a toothy smile, which signaled us to chuckle. Rossman, that sonuvabitch. That hilarious, fabulous sonuvabitch. A few chuckles passed through the room, then silence again. Mind control. “You’re all doing a super job. I fully expect to have these numbers be doubly impressive by next week. We can do it. I know we can.” My eyes still followed the ceiling fan, spinning tirelessly, round and round. Rossman spun my life in circles, endless circles. My brain was on fire. It had to stop.
    “Gazuntite!” Brian said. A cluster of chuckles. Silence again.
    “I expect no more errors on the finance reports. It’s a team effort and I know you can do it.” My temples pounded violently now. The veins in my neck began to throb and I was starting to sweat. I stooped over and clawed my fingers into my skull. I needed to get out of here. Rossman had to be stopped. “Also, we need carpools, so if anyone is willing to drive…” I dug my fingers in, deeper still. Orange swam beneath my vision—scissors in Jerry’s back pocket.
    The scissors, the key…the only way out. I barely managed to open my watery eyes and reached for them. A cluster of chuckles passed through the room.
    “Please drive safely. It’s been snowing and the roads are slippery. Otherwise, it’s only two miles from here.” I hooked the scissors onto my finger and slowly pulled them out. One stab to the heart and the time warp would collapse. “Also, try to bring your own lunch.” It had to be done, now was the time. I started moving, slowly, silently, through the crowd. He stood there, inattentive, unaware, ready to be put to an end. “Just remember…” I tightened my grip and crouched to lunge. “You’re all doing great work, each and every one of you.”

  3. billb75

    Day 1:
    Ever since I have been UN-employed from W.R. Pharmaceuticals I’ve decided while I wait for other employers to respond to my applications, I would begin to write in this journal. It had been a gift from my wife several years ago, that had been rotting away in the back of my bureau. She knew that I had loved writing ever since I was a teenager, however, I hadn’t found the time to write anything in it while I still had my job. Today is the begging, I am home alone, and it is a some what familiar day, it has been light, and grew dark as yesterday did. The day grew mature in haste, and that does not surprise me, since I haven’t been working my days have grown rather boring and dull. My wife say’s I need to get out of the house more, maybe invest in a gym-membership while I wait out any new job offers.
    I’m not so much of a “gym-buff” so I do not want to really take up that offer, however, I have found myself in quite a rut lately, one that forced me into discovering this old notebook. I needed something to distract myself from the boredom that surfaces by day. The journal, I hope, will be a game-changer. Or a life-changer at that. My wife tells me that being active is more important, but I never had a problem with my health or weight for that matter so I think the journal will do. I use to write poetry quite often as a teen, so I decided i’d give it a try as a more mature, and intelligent adult.
    So here it is, much to my wife’s displeasure, not in the fact that I am writing poetry, but the fact that I am writing it instead of being “Active.”
    This rut I have met, in the middle of my life
    is haunting, rather daunting within the night.
    I sit and I weep, as my wife tries to sleep
    but yet, the journal is my escape.
    Yes, I can write, a beautiful thought
    although my wife does not approve.
    Farewell to my drought of happiness,
    for these words will mend the shrewd
    feeling of being unemployed,
    and facing the familiarity
    of every-day void.

  4. Jess R.

    The morning rush of coffee drinkers was always a bit hectic, especially when I was all alone. I had been running late that morning anyway. The alarm was set too low and I couldn’t find my keys in time to defrost the windows of my car, so instead of taking the time to be safe and scrape off the frost, I drove down the road with my head out of the window and I made it to work, with three minutes to spare.
    I hated working. At least, for someone else. I always dreamt of owning my own coffee shop and working as my own boss and working as a team with others who helped my business flourish and grow, instead of working a low-pay, minimum wage job that never gave the right people recognition. I had been at this job for too long, and was starting to get bored with all the monotonous bull crap that came along with the job I never wanted in the first place. Truth is, I just needed the money and I was hired on the spot, no questions asked.
    The Grind was great at first. I guess all jobs start off well. Fun people, good benefits, an atmosphere that welcomes even the coldest hearts into a sea of warmth and flavor. I woke up in a great mood because I had such a cool job; making coffee, baking pastries, listening to music and talking of literature all day. That lasted about a month. And then I realized the truth. I was only hired so that other employees could sit around and do nothing while I had to deal with every responsibility and all the problem-customers who complained about their drinks being too hot, or their blueberry muffins doesn’t have enough blueberries, or one dollar for a banana if outrageous and demanded to speak with the manager.
    I had had enough. I had spent too much time working in places that never appreciated the time and hard work that I had put into a job that only I seemed to care about. Everything I had sacrificed: my evenings off to enjoy time alone and explore my imagination, dinner dates with friends that I cared for deeply and even my very own dreams of becoming a writer had been put on hold, because I felt that getting paid for a job meant being the best and dropping everything for an employer who envies the freedom I have chose to give up. Rather than enjoying my life and living it how I wanted, I chose to work for someone who pays me the minimalist amount to justify the best effort I had even given.
    Well not any more.
    I couldn’t take this place anymore. I couldn’t handle seeing the same customers, day after day, ordering the same drinks and saying the same thing each time I saw them; like they had never seen me before. I couldn’t handle the stress and labor I had put into a place that I refused to stay at longer than a year, because I knew that if I did, my dreams would be harder to catch.
    I had so much planned for myself, without the useless noise of bubbling customers screeching their orders at my face like I had no idea what I was doing. Like I didn’t know how to make a Grande, extra-hot, non-fat, no-whip, mocha with two extra pumps of mocha and hotter than 200. Or that I didn’t know they were taking advantage of me, knowing that I couldn’t argue back at their pointless complaints. I was done with all of this.
    “I would like a Venti, quad-shot poured long, seven pump, Almond Cappuccino, extra hot and extra dry.” It was a man I had never seen in The Grind before. He spoke the words with the elegance of a Brit who was fresh from traveling long and far. His shaggy gray hair fell gracefully around his jagged face, and his grayish-blue eyes smiled right into mine as if saying, “What on earth are you wasting your life in here for?”
    What on earth was I doing here? I was suddenly overwhelmed with an urge for fresh air and wind to be dancing softly through my hair. I wanted to run through a meadow and laugh at the feeling of freedom in my grasp.
    “Miss?” Excuse me, Miss?” I snapped out of my trance and noticed the fine gentleman was standing right beside me. I had overflowed the steaming milk onto the counter and all over the floor, but had just enough foam to finish his drink and hand it to him before tossing my apron at the manager who had been watching from his doorway, not even bothering to assist with the lengthy line.
    Without saying a word, I turned my back to the angry sounds coming from the line and started walking toward the door.
    “Miss?” The gentleman was right behind me and I turned to greet his smiling face.
    “Thank you, for helping me see that I do not belong in a place like this.” And with a farewell kiss blown to me through the air and breathing the fresh smell of ground coffee beans, I walked into a world that had been beckoning my soul for a lifetime; my freedom.

  5. Leond

    As I was driving home, a particularly maddening question struck me. It was a question that everyone should ask themselves, and maybe a question that everyone does. But unlike a lot of people, I couldn’t answer it?
    “What did I do today?”
    Thinking about it, I honestly couldn’t tell. I knew what I had done yesterday. And the day before that. And what I did every single day of the week. But I couldn’t think of anything that I had done that that I hadn’t done yesterday. And I couldn’t think of anything that I had done yesterday that I hadn’t done the day before that. I had worked. And I had worked. And I had done nothing else.
    And so, I decided that I was going to do something different that day. I was going to do something that I had absolutely never done ever before.
    Then something struck me. I had made that same resolution yesterday at about the same time. And the day before that. And every other day. In theory, it would be different of me to decide to not resolve to do something different from what I always do. And if I didn’t resolve to do so, then I couldn’t do it. So it would be illogical to try and do something different.
    But the argument for the other side was obvious. Imagine I don’t think about doing something different. That means I don’t do anything different, which means that I should think about it. Formally speaking, I had two equally legitimate syllogisms. “I should do something different. Not thinking about doing anything different is something different. I should not do anything different”, or “I should not think about doing something different. Not thinking about doing something different is different. I should do something different.” Formal logic solved none of my problems!
    And then, I realized a perfect compromise. I could do something different without thinking about it. And so, it being impossible to further analyze this course of action, I swerved the car to the left rather than turning right to go to my house. Across two lanes of traffic.
    It’s been five days now. I’m thinking about thinking about what I’ve been doing. I’m confident it should be interesting. And if I don’t, I’m sure I’ll never figure out how to finally tame this unicorn.

  6. jenaleersc

    The steady drip of the coffee machine competed with the loud hum from my computer’s CPU. I squinted my eyes trying to minimize the bright glow emanating from the monitor.
    Copy. Paste. Format. Rinse and repeat. The mouse’s button clicked under my hand sounding louder than normal.
    It was another day at the office, sitting under bright fluorescent lights, far away from any natural light filtering in from the windows along the side of the building. Those windows were reserved for the important offices. Not small cubicles placed squarely in the center of the room.
    I rubbed my fingers over my eyes and for two seconds there was relief. For two seconds my eyes were closed and I could pretend. Pretend I was someplace else, like the beach, or a coffee shop. But when those two seconds passed and I opened my eyes, the vision ended. Replaced by a bright glare and emails vying for my attention.
    I poked my head out of my cubicle and glanced around at the heads bent over their desks. Fingers clacked away at the keyboard as if in a race they couldn’t possibly win.
    I was in a rut.
    I sat back down and flipped through the stack of papers littering my desk. How boring. I picked up the top stack and dumped them in the small wastebasket sitting next to my desk. For a brief moment I felt guilt, and I had to restrain myself from whisking the papers out of the trash.
    When the guilt evaporated, I dumped the rest of the papers into the trash. Then I threw away my pens, notepaper, even the stapler. I completely cleaned off the top of my desk, noticing for the first time the old coffee stain rings covering the fake wood.
    I gathered my jacket and purse and stood, pushing my swivel chair into place behind the desk. A coworker stepped into view, her mouth dropping open slightly as she viewed the full wastebasket.
    “What happened?” She asked. She held a large stack of papers in her hands and she slowly tried setting them on my now clear desk.
    “Not there,” I said, preventing her from ruining my freshly cleaned space. “In there.” I motioned for the trashcan.
    Her mouth dropped open further, and her eyebrows rose in surprise. “But I don’t understand.”
    “I’m bored. I’m not going to keep doing these reports.” My coworker stuttered but no actual words came out. I shrugged on my jacket and stepped around her.
    “I’m not actually sure people are meant to sit in a cubicle all day staring at a monitor. And well, I’m not going to do it anymore.” I walked past her and she turned and watched me leave. Others stood up from their chairs, most shaking their heads in disappointment. But not everyone, some people’s face held appreciation. I nodded my head at them and smiled.
    I was out the door and into the sunshine. It felt wonderful on my face, warm and fresh. A new beginning.

  7. SweetBohemia

    Nothing More

    Hmmm…here it is again, that absolute desire to do something big. Something loud. But what haven’t I done in this moment? Get a tattoo, a piercing, shave my head, four more tattoos, a threesome without my boyfriend, a threesome with my husband, kiss a girl, bungee jump, buy a one-way plane ticket, get divorced, get married, get married again, “forget” to take my birth control, throw out all the furniture, end a friendship, kiss a stranger, dance naked through a rooftop party, move, move again, move yet again, and again, and again, adopt a kitten, adopt an old cancerous cat, buy a $2000 “proper” cat, drink too much, throw my phone in the ocean, offer various jewelry to the ocean, binge, go on a fast, snort a little, snort a lot, stalk a wannabe rock-star, stand-up an actual rock-star, smash a television, smash another television, smash television number 3, get a boob job, remove a tattoo, throw my computer in the snow, disappear.
    I’ve been told explicitly this time: “You will not hurt my television.” It’s not even that he is much of a television-watcher; he just doesn’t believe in mindless destruction. I find such moments the most mindful in my life.
    Mostly I’m shy, timid, scared of everything. But when the feeling overcomes me, it’s like a superpower. I can do anything. For a girl normally afraid, this is a gift. I can’t refuse it.
    So here I am again, listening to The Beautiful South, and thinking: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE. THIS CAN NOT BE MY LIFE. That is the very thought that always precedes the drama. Leaving for work this morning I said my secret goodbye: routine to him, but for me it was bittersweet…I was certain I’d never see him again. I thought I might text in the evening, in order to not cause undo worry. He’s a good one, but THIS IS NOT MY LIFE.
    Evening has come and somehow I am back “home”. I have returned. I curl up on the bed, hear him making dinner in the next room. My mind, my body, is hot with the fever – I want to scream, jump through the window. I want to slice him open, or maybe myself… I want Blood Violence Drama Chaos. I breath deeply, heavily, willing each breath to slow, and then I realize just the thing to do.
    I walk to the bathroom, remove my wedding band, my engagement diamond. I drop them into a tub of cleanser. I run a bath; wash every square inch of my skin in a dewy perfumed soap. I put on a sweet, but casual dress…one I know he likes; choose timid but pretty lingerie for underneath, slip sparkling rings on a certain finger. I walk down the hallway, smile kindly, and eat the dinner he’s prepared. I complement his cooking, his choice of wine. I stay. Peacefully. There is nothing more drastic.

  8. sherbertblue

    It hit him like a speed train and he knew the answer to his problem in that instant. It would take guts, but hell he couldn’t live like this anymore. He couldn’t live in the pretend world that he inhabited. The world of ‘Hi Jim, how are you today.’ Where Jim would answer ‘Fine’ even though he wasn’t because every day he lived a lie and every night he lay awake thinking it over. He had taken to crying now, Jim was on the edge and he knew it. Antidepressants didn’t work for him and he had steeled himself to go to the doctor and talk things through, but he hadn’t been able to and instead he had left with a prescription for powder for his athlete’s foot. Jim looked around the call centre and felt the nausea rise in his stomach but his shadowy existence and the shame it brought him could no longer continue without it breaking him in two.

    He pushed his chair back and rose to his feet unsteadily, Gordon, the guy in the next booth raised a quizzical eyebrow, sensing that all was not well. Jim motioned to the toilet and indicated that he was unwell. Gordon nodded and Jim fled like a ferret. People hardly noticed him leave, the call centre was busy, a hive of industry and people didn’t really mix. Jim was grateful for his working environment at that moment in time.

    He was gone for a few hours, marking himself out as sick. He wouldn’t get paid for the hours he lost but he could cope with that. When he got home he took his time, he had a shower and a shave again, even though he had done all this I the morning. He chose his clothes very carefully and gently he took out a box from under the bed. He handled it so carefully as if the contents were sacred. Then he lifted the tissue paper and took out the underwear. From another box under his bed he took out some makeup.

    When Jim returned to the call centre, he could feel the sweat running down his back. He leaned against the wall and threw up, fumbling for a tissue in his handbag. He squared his shoulders and walked in, no-one even looked his way. Nearing his desk he caught Gordon’s eye and he could see that Gordon was struggling with how to react. Other co-workers began to take notice and then someone wolf whistled and a slow handclap began to echo around his area. Jim began to laugh and the girls crowded round admiring his long auburn wig that had cost him a whole week’s pay. Gordon stood up and said ‘Want a cup of tea, love?’ and Jim laughed. Things were going to be ok.

  9. m

    As Shelia sipped her third Americano with rash urgency tears rolled down her face. The first box of tissues was empty. She worked her way steadily through the second one. The living room looked like a Christmas wrapping party but there were no presents or tree. Only a chesty, blonde forty six year old women with six kids, countless surgical “touch-ups”, a cheating husband, and million dollar mortgage. Shelia had always felt that Tommy was her soul mate. They had been dating since high school. He was her first kiss, her first EVERYTHING. Her visions of when they first met she was maybe four or five years old. She could not believe a man he had known since kindergarten could be unfaithful. Betrayal stung her gut.
    Shelia closed her eyes and pictured their wedding day. Tommy promised to be faithful in front of five hundred people, our pastor and God. We prayed for a blessing from God. How could God allow this to happen? I can’t recall missing one service in almost fifteen years! Honestly Shelia spent most of the time in service dreaming about another life. Not a life without Tommy and the kids, just a more exciting lifestyle. Tommy was an ultra-rich businessman who had to travel around the world to manage the international businesses. Every week Shelia created an elaborate alternate universe for herself and the family. The saddest part about it was that she had never even been beyond immediate neighboring states.
    Maybe Tommy has offered me a precious gift. Perhaps it’s time to spend some of that money I have been saving. I cannot face him right now. Shelia went to the computer and typed “airline tickets” in the google search bar. She scrolled down to see the results. Shelia clicked on the first one Travelocity and chose hotel, flight and car. Shelia booked a one way ticket from Baltimore to Dublin on one of Tommy’s Visa cards. It cost him 2557 to book. I’ve always had such a crush on Colin Farrell and Dublin looks like such a dynamic city in this picture.
    Shelia dialed Tommy’s cell and there was no answer. It isn’t a surprise, he doesn’t like confrontations. She called his work number directly.
    “This is Tommy Weber!”
    “Tommy, i-i-t’s over.” Shelia stammered. “I know about Jessica.”
    “Babe what are you talking about? I love you—I would never do anything to hurt you—you know you can trust me. ” Tommy felt his throat catch. “Don’t do this Babe we all need you so much.”
    “Don’t come home for a few days.” Sheila’s bit her tongue hard to keep it from betraying her true feelings. Shelia could never erase the image of Tommy and her baby sister falling out back of his SUV groping all over each other with a trip around the world. But she would try.

  10. mariagavila

    After setting down my coffee turned tea cup, I realized that the taste of green tea was no longer appealing. My mouth felt as if I had sprinkled chalk in the tea. It was pasty and repulsive. I looked around my office and then at myself and I acknowledged that I was tired. I didn’t even like my co-workers anyway. Many had come and gone, but I had always stayed. I hadn’t even aspired for a promotion, thinking I was fine where I was at. Now I understood that I wanted something more.
    Without a second thought I picked up my cell phone, did a quick Google search and dialed the number I found. By the time I ended that call, I had a confirmation number and a plane ticket. “I always wanted to go to Hawaii,” I thought. This time I didn’t even worry about the trip not being possible or wonder how I was going to get there.

    With determination pulling me forward I walked into my manager’s office. I knew where she kept the key to the safe. She trusted me. Always dependable, unchangeable me. I reached to the secret compartment under the desk and found the key. I turned it over in my hand a couple of times and then turned it in the lock. I wasn’t worried that anyone would see me, everyone was out to lunch, with the exception of Bill who was sleeping on the office couch. Slowly I opened the safe door and saw all that green staring back at me, and I felt invigorated. I inhaled the smell of my upcoming freedom. It smelled wonderful. I reached in and withdrew the beginning of my new life.
    On my way out I saw my manager’s purse open on her desk and inside the pack of cigarettes she always had. I helped myself to one and her bright pink lighter. I had never smoked before, but I thought “what the heck…”
    In slow motion I headed for the door, walked outside and slid the Gucci sunglasses that I had found on another coworkers desk, on my way out. I flagged down a taxi, climbed in and headed for the airport.
    Would they know I did it? Who knows. But that wasn’t going to stop me now.


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