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Workplace Anxiety

It was five minutes to eight on a Teusday morning, and he was up pacing nerveously around the bedroom, holding his stomach like he was about to vomit or have diarrhea. Typical behavior for him in the morning, at least on a work day. He really seemed to hate his job. I never learned what he did. There was a period of a few months during which he seemed much more relaxed, he slept better, he took care of himself, and during that time he never paced around the bedroom in the morning like that. He must’ve been out of work. Must’ve gone back to it when he went back to work.

He was doing especially bad on this particular morning. He always talked to himself, whenever he was alone, but always under his breath. On this morning he grew very agitated, talking to himself more and more loudly until he was almost yelling. Then he stopped, stopped pacing around and clutching his guts, and stopped talking to himself. He froze a moment, then hurried out of the bedroom. He must’ve gone to the kitchen, but I couldn’t see him. The kitchen was out of my field of view, and I was afraid that, if I turned the camera, he’d notice it. But he must’ve gone into the kitchen because he lived in this dinky little apartment where the kitchen and living room were on one side, and the bedroom and bathroom were on the other. He went through the doorway to the kitchen/living room area, and came back a few moments later with a pair of kitchen shears. He took them to the bathroom sink and stood there for a long while. I couldn’t see what he was doing; I could see him standing there at the sink, but he was in shadows and I couldn’t make out any details. It looked like he was cutting something— which, it turned out, he was.

He laughed to himself, a surprised little chuckle, and then came back into the bedroom. He’d cut off his left index finger and couldn’t have been happier about it. He tossed the scissors and his finger onto the bed, and called into work to tell his manager that he wouldn’t be able to come in, that there had been an accident in the kitchen and that he would be stuck at the emergency room all day. This seemed to go over fine. When he got off the phone he jumped onto the bed like a little kid and stared at the finger. It was moving, inching around his bed like an inchworm.

He cut off his left middle finger. He cut it off like he was snipping a corner off a piece of paper. He didn’t flinch, just, snip. There wasn’t any blood either. In quick succession, he cut off the other fingers of his left hand, snip, snip, snip. Five litle inchworms inched around his bed. He watched them all wriggling around there with a big grin on his face. He seemed satisfied… for a while. Then he took off his socks and snipped off his toes as matter-of-factly as if he were clipping his toenails: snip, snip, snip, snip, snipsnip, snip, snip, snip, snip.

Now he had fifteen little inchworms inching around his bed, and it looked like that would be all. He tried to cut his wrist, but it was too big a job for his kitchen shears. He couldn’t very well cut off the fingers of his right hand, because it was with his right hand that he cut. He pulled down his pants and seemed to contemplate cutting off his penis to make it sixteen little inchworms, but he pulled his pants back up without doing it. After that he seemed content to watch his new friends… for a while. Then he got the—frankly, brilliant, though also horrifying—idea to cut his face, opening his mouth wide and cutting off strips of cheekmeat and lips. These pieces added some variety to his menagerie: instead of inching around like inchworms, they stretched out long and pulled themselves forward, like earthworms.

He found he could use the same technique with any hole. He did his nostrils, making little maggot looking pieces, and his eyelids. Then he did his belly button, which turned out the be the mother lode. New creatures came pouring out of him. He didn’t have to cut them out anymore either, they cut themselves out, or each other. When it was all over, there wasn’t anything left of him, and all the pieces had scurried away to hide under the floorboards, down the drains, in dark corners and other places where no one looks and my camera can’t see.

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