The days stretch on. No matter how far I go, no matter how much I manage to accomplish, it’s never enough. There’s always another barrier to cross right after the last one, another hurdle to jump, another mile to run. The hardships don’t get more complex, or even that much more difficult—they’re just more of the same.
The days stretch on. There’re no rewards for reaching any of the checkpoints. There’s maybe a passing word of encouragement from a guardian or a coworker, but after that I’ve little choice but to put my nose back to the grindstone alone, despite having torn away all the skin from it long ago.
The days stretch on. I wake up and drive across town to spend eight hours in front of one computer, then turn around and spend the other six or so in front of another. Any in-person interactions are brief and fleeting, the other person an acquaintance with a work-related question or sometimes a funny story about their cat.
The days stretch on. I work harder, but my accomplishments fade off into the void, echoed only by larger, more time-consuming assignments. My family calls me and tells me how proud they are of me, but their tinny, distant-sounding voices do little to boost my morale. I slowly piece together that the reason why I’ve been talking to myself so much lately is to break the silence in my apartment.