Under Construction

He had not noticed the sign earlier that day — the one that read “road closed, under construction”. He wondered at that but didn’t wonder too much. A man drives up and down the same road for the majority of his life and he begins to not see it. Though, still, it seemed strange — it was his street. He should have seen the problem with the road. He should have noticed the new bumps and lumps, should have smelled the curling asphalt in the summer.

But it was another thing to deal with in a day full of strange things. He’d just been fired. His boss cited the economy, but he knew better. There’d been hints here and there throughout the last month. People in his department being released, subtle conversations that no one seemed to think he noticed. When he was called into his boss’s office, she said to him, “I’m sorry. We’re not seeing the kind of performance that we’re hoping for out of you.”

He didn’t have much to say about that. So he didn’t respond. He grabbed his coat, a few things from his desk, and left the building.

There didn’t seem to be much construction on the road, at least nothing that he noticed. He realized that this might be the case, that the construction might be down the road but not visible right now but the absence of visible construction infuriated him for some reason.

He kept driving and kept thinking. He felt the tension throughout his body — what would he tell his wife, his family, the ones that seemed to think that he had it all together? He knew that he wasn’t going into that career again — not that, not that dog-eat-dog self-hating monster that consumed him for the last fifteen year. And he wasn’t sure who would understand and who would look at him with disgust.

He arrived, parked, and walked through the double-front doors that his wife had workers install shortly after they bought the house.

“Why didn’t you have this done when we bought the house,” he asked her at the time. “The best time to do the work is before we’ve moved in.” But she just shrugged.

“A house is always a work in progress,” she responded.

He took a deep breath at the entrance and went on in. His wife was in the living room, reading a book. “How was your day?” she said. “You’re home early.”

He glanced out of the window and saw the way that the snow clung to the road and then blew away, revealing the cracked and wrinkled asphalt underneath. A few yellow and orange crews wandered up the street, setting up signs and barriers that prevented others from getting in. The road needed work, he thought. Seems time for it to be closed.

“It took longer to get home. The road’s closed,” he said. “It’s under construction.”