She forced herself to wake up and she would force herself to do whatever she had to do for the remainder of the day.
She would dress the kids in a hurry, make them breakfast, take them to school, go to work where - to put it briefly - she'd suffer for ten long hours, come back home late in the afternoon and cook lunch for the next day, since her husband didn't want to eat the same food two days in a row, clean the house, help the kids with their homework, scold them - even though that made her feel terrible - because they'd have made mistakes and they should do well in school, call her mother and endure her ramblings about her blood sugar levels and her latest medical test results, but mainly about the latest vacation she'd go on with her friends (even though she needed her to wash the dishes or read a story to her little devils). Then she'd listen to her husband whine about his boss, and at night she'd shut her eyes in exhaustion for a short break from this incessant madness, only to have him wake her up with his horrible snoring. She'd poke him, he'd mumble an apology and change sides, only to start snoring even louder five minutes later, pulling her from the threshold of a beautiful dream, in which she'd find herself all alone in an endless sea.
Of course she doesn't have the time to acknowledge all of the aforementioned tasks as she performs them mechanically, like an automaton that society, family and most of all her own self keep feeding with coins. For years and years this automaton was working fine, but now with the recession people had less and less coins to feed it with and she felt like a robot which was creaking irritatingly, with its gears spinning out of control.
She did everything a working mother does each morning under stress and frustration and then took her kids to school so that they'd have an education, even though she wasn't at all certain whether this would secure them a job, money and most of all the peace of mind that people need in order to live a decent life. The sky was blue that morning, but the voice on the radio made everything look black. The people in the streets had blackness in their souls and so the sky seemed black as well when she looked at it, even though it was blue. She drove by a crazy old lady who was shifting through the trash. The old woman found a half eaten breadstick and sat on the pavement to eat it with a smile on her face. It was a cruel scene and one that she couldn't bear to watch, and - as people usually do when they can't bear to watch something that cruel - she turned her head and turned up the radio, where they were discussing the new tax law and so that's where she focused her attention on, getting all stressed out again because she didn't know if the new financial situation would allow her to even go on vacation, to lay her tired body on the beach and not have to think about anything for a few minutes every day.
As she was contemplating the beach and the taxes, she felt a weird bump. She turned and looked behind her and saw a young man making vulgar gestures at her and calling her names because she probably hit his elbow with her side view mirror. She felt a pang of guilt, but didn't stop because, first of all, his vulgarity made her angry and, second, she was afraid he could turn violent. So she simply stepped on the gas pedal and finally reached her workplace.
A huge, black cloud had settled over her company's building since the beginning of summer, when the first whispers about lay-offs started spreading around, along with the first salary cuts and the news that the entire company was facing bankruptcy due to significant losses. Everyone was angry about this situation for which no one was prepared. Half her colleagues had families, mortgages on houses which they had once so joyously furnished, kids studying abroad or in another town - to whom they couldn't even dare suggest that they get a job, especially in these times where there weren't any - and a desperate need for vacation on some beautiful island with picturesque alleyways, gift shops and colorful drinks on the beach. The other half of her colleagues, the younger half, that once dreamed of getting married on some beautiful estate, wearing a stunning wedding dress during a romantic sunset and having children, which they would probably see rarely, and when they did see them, they'd feel like killing them - though she didn't tell them that, so that they wouldn't be discouraged out of the sacred task of the perpetuation of the species - were now discouraged anyway and said that they'd grow old with their parents and that at least they'd have someone to clean their room since they wouldn't have the energy to do it themselves, having come back from work so exhausted that they couldn't even drag their feet around the block. All of her colleagues, as well as herself, were mad at their employer and at the government. Their employer was mad at them because he had to pay all that money for their social insurance, and also mad at the government. They would fight frequently about a lost pencil or when someone forgot to send an e-mail, and the only thing that was keeping them together was their collective wish that their competitors would go out of business and that their own company's turnover would increase, even if that meant that people just like them would be left unemployed. Everybody was angry when the competitors did well and this anger lingered in the corridors, in the offices, it came and went through the windows, it followed them home and sometimes all this blackness over the company would be interrupted by volcanic eruptions.
It was another bad day for her and the other employees, as were all days during these last months. Finally, she clocked out of this hateful place in which she was actually spending all of her life, and which didn't reward her adequately, but she needed it all the more because she wouldn't be able to find another job if it went out of business or if they fired her, and unfortunately the private school her kids were attending didn't agree to lower the tuition fees, even though the Parents' Association kindly asked them to.
She went into her car and turned on the radio, but this notion that was stuck in her mind since noon was now growing and growing and starting to flood her brain. What if that young man sued her for a hit and run? What if she'd broken his arm? Even worse, what if he had a child with him and she ran over it unknowingly? What if she was a murderer without even realizing it? What if she went to prison and never saw her children again? She shared those fears of her with a friend, who told her that she was probably just too stressed lately and that she should go to a therapist if she ever got to make more money again, and with her mother, who told her that the pedestrian could have broken his arm and that she should have stopped and taken him to the hospital. Her mother had the bad habit of panicking over everything. She realized that she was being irrational, that her mind was playing tricks on her, that she'd just bumped the guy's arm with her side view mirror and he just got mad. But then why all this guilt, this huge burden, suffocating her like a tombstone over a living body. Why all this horror, pulling her mind towards disaster and making her imagine herself all alone in a prison cell, hopelessly counting the rest of her days?
Suddenly she realized that she was passing through the spot where it all happened. She pulled over and got out of the car, not actually realizing what she was doing. She spotted the dumpster and started looking at the ground for any signs of blood from the crime she hadn't actually committed. She looked furiously, she wanted to rub the pavement with her hands, to scrape it and then scrape her own hands clean of this imaginary blood and the fear that she'd never see again her children, her husband, her mother, to tear it apart and throw it away so that she'd be able to breathe again like a living human being, not like a human being with a tombstone over her body.
Then she was startled by a voice coming from behind. The old lady who had found the half-eaten breadstick that morning had found some more food.
"I guess I'm in luck today!", she said.
She looked at her in shock and started moving away.
"And what a beautiful, blue sky we're having", finished the old lady and started devouring the leftovers that she'd found.