Future Results
By Beach Sloth

(Illustrated by LK Shaw)

Charles was shopping at Whole Foods. Many delicious and nutritious snacks were sitting there waiting to be brought to a loving home. The supermarket felt alienating, but Whole Foods told him they were a good company so he believed them. For the past two years Charles had shopped there and felt little sense of fulfillment.

Maybe there was something wrong with him.

Work was the same thing. Every day he woke up and entered big numbers into the system. This made him feel uneasy. Nothing he did seemed to have any impact. His numbers were always correct. In fact his boss commended him for a job well done, for such attention to detail, but whether or not Charles did a good job or not meant little. He lived in a beautiful apartment all alone. On Friday nights he caught up on Netflix. Saturday he went biking. Sunday he took walks and watched TV on HBO.

The Orange Line brought him to work every day.

One day he missed the bus. This was the first time he had missed it in two years. Usually he was early. That day he was late. Nobody else had missed it, only him. For a while he just stood there. Here he was going to a job he didn’t even like and he was late. He had never missed a single day. At the end of each year he was given a bonus for his perfect attendance.

A giant limousine pulled up in front of him. Charles noticed it had no specific beginning or end. All he knew was it appeared to be some form of infinity. A voice told him to get inside. Charles laughed nervously and said he had to go to work. The voice told him it would be fine. The voice pleaded with him until Charles felt a hand on his back. It pushed him into eternity.

Down, down Charles fell. Bright colors and lights flicked on and off. Out in the distance were various static noises. He was getting close to the bottom. A trampoline broke his fall as he jumped up and down. It reminded him of his friend’s house party years ago. That was a fun house party. He jumped up and down on the trampoline completely at ease. He felt the need to touch his hair. A little bunny came out of his hair and landed next to him.

The little bunny grew into a big bunny. It told him to hop on, relishing the pun. Charles obliged and the bunny brought down the rabbit hole. Faster and faster they flew past many holes in the ground. One tunnel showed a happy family. Another showed a wedding. Right at the very end, another tunnel showed a beach. The beach grew larger and larger until he was there.

No longer did Charles wear his customary suit. He wore his ancient beloved red hoodie. Next to him were his friends from college. All of them gathered around the campfire. Charles knew he was at an old beach party. Far away on the beach was the girl Charles used to know. It was dusk. Charles felt happy to be surrounded by real friends. Before Charles had a real job he was a lifeguard. It paid much less but Charles saw the fruits of his labor. Lifeguarding made him confident in himself. He saved lives. He didn’t know what all his number-crunching resulted in; the results were hidden from view.

Together they talked and she hugged him tightly. Nobody had hugged Charles that hard for a lon time. Tears began to form in his eyes. His boss patting him on the back that was the most physical affection he gotten in the past several years. Charles hugged her even tighter. The bunny flew up into the air. His friends flew up into the air. Everything was floating away from him. Most of the sky had left, leaving a white blankness akin to an empty Word Document he filled with Prospectus jargon like ‘Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results’. He hugged tighter. Pieces of sand flew into his eyes but they didn’t sting. As long as he held onto her, she’d keep him safe.

Finally the sheer sucking of gravity broke his grip. He floated to the top towards the whiteness. She screamed at him ‘Go to the beach’ as Charles kept on crying. He was sad he couldn’t hold on. Part of his body convulsed from the pain of leaving. Growing up had made Charles lonely.

On Charles’s nightstand a phone was ringing. It was his office. Charles told them he was sick and then went to the beach. After jumping in the waves he felt the water against his head. The waves washed over him and he felt better than he had in a long time. Someone floated right next to him. She smiled at him and asked him his name. Charles smiled, a real genuine smile, not a fake one. ‘Nice to meet you’ he said:

“Hi I’m Charles and I love life.”


beach sloth lives in baltimore and new york