Happy Valentine's Day, all! Actually, I did have a Valentine's Day themed fic I was working on, centring around Freddie, but I haven't had time to finish it. Expect it someday, and it'll probably still be Valentine's Day themed, but won't be released anywhere near on time.

In the meantime, have a fic. I actually wrote this on New Year's Eve. I was experimenting with a new style, so expect weirdness. This is quite an ambiguous fic, and what's happening might seem confusing at first. It starts off as an internal monologue but, well, as it progresses I'll let you figure out what I'm trying to do. Strangeness lies ahead. Ye hath been warned.

As always, I don't own Bread.


It's pointless, isn't it? Watching the sun rise in a grey sky and illuminate the spectacular wasteland of your existence, casting rays on every missed opportunity, every failed relationship, every family feud left unresolved until the point of no return, and every day stuck on this endless treadmill of a job. Waking up and groaning, not from tiredness, but from that inescapable, unbearable sentence that marches into your mind the second you do: 'here we go again.' Knowing that there is nothing to look forward to but collecting rubbish for the wastepile of your life, and going through the motions again and again. And again.

(And again.)

I don't know precisely why it is that things work out this way. People who have everything go on having everything all the days of their lives, heaped with blessing upon blessing. And those who don't have anything keep on losing, until even what they had to begin with is gone. That's just how life works, I suppose. Speaking for myself, I fall into the latter category. I never had anything. I still don't. Oh, no, wait. I've got a job. Joy unbounded! How lucky I am! The luckiness of me! Would you LIKE my job? Please, do take it. See for yourself all the delights it brings.

No, I suppose it could be worse. Hellish my job may be, but it keeps food on the table and bills paid most of the time. I've got a roof over my head. It leaks, but still. It's there. I'm not homeless or crippled or destitute, but then I shouldn't say such things. I hate it when they're pointed out to me. Just because I'm not starving in a gutter doesn't mean I'm all right. Yes, there's always someone worse off than yourself, but there's always someone better off and all. And I know it's pointless to fritter away your time and energy resenting them, but it's hard not to, sometimes, it really is.

Especially if, despite being well-and-truly better off, they pretend they have it worse. Oh, how I loathe that. Most of the people I encounter at work fit into this mould. Little hoards stashed in their two-up, two-down palaces, (care to trade for my two-room-in-total spider-hole?) fur-lined jackets and silk shirts, expensive brands of hair conditioner or perfume you can smell from two streets away, people who don't bother to hide the fact that they're raking it in from every corner of the earth where unofficial jobs exist, and still have the nerve to turn to me and remind me: 'it's all right for YOU.'

Is it, indeed? And who made you an authority on how it is to be me, pray tell? Until you've lived under a great grey blanket for thirty-two years, struggling against every fold that stretches taut over your head so you can't breathe, until you've known what it is to face the great expanse of existence that lies before you not only alone, but hated as well, every step you take dogged by some fresh torment—a nasty comment, an attempt at violence upon your person, a projectile lobbed at your head from close-to just for saying something you have to in order to keep your pathetic source of income—until you have tried BEING me, then don't you dare pass judgement on my life. You are not entitled. Stop making assumptions and leave me be.

I could go, of course, but where? I've left this city once. ONCE, in my entire lifetime, and that was just to Windermere with Shifty. Pathetic, I know. I didn't even get to see all that much of it when I was there. He had other things on his mind, did Shifty—Windermere was just a backdrop for his lust (for me, for SOMEONE, should I say; he didn't have to be specific, and let's face it, I could've been anyone.) and for a long drive in a BMW that wasn't his. The entire expedition was, I confess, a disappointment. I would've liked to at least have spent a small amount of time looking at the lake. Oh, and there was Rufford Old Hall, I suppose. But I don't count that. It was closed.

I could go on my own, but I've no way of getting there. I could go somewhere else. Somewhere distant. Somewhere that isn't just endless grey, endless smog, endless despair. But would it even make any difference to my mood? And anyway, what would I live on? I can't imagine it being easy to get another job, what with my qualifications. Three A-levels, and I only got them because the subjects I chose were mostly rote-learning. It's easy to memorise things, not having the foggiest what they MEAN, write what you know they want you to say and scrape a pass. I don't have much in the way of actual SKILL to boast of. At least I'm guaranteed employment here, pretty much until I die, or until I lose my mind from the horror of it and then probably take my own life anyway. No-one else'll do this job for the money. I don't blame them, either.

There isn't much hope for anything good to suddenly materialise in my life. I think all those ships sailed long ago and it's a bit late to call them back. I'm left with whatever wasn't on board them when they left port—which, to be honest, isn't a lot. I don't even have any FRIENDS. I don't even have anyone to talk to about all this.

You can talk to me, sweetheart.

Yes, but a conversation with you just entails inane babbling about your countless relatives and how all of you need all of the state's money this instant, or else you'll—

—er, hang on a minute.

What are you doing in my head? My thoughts are private.

You're not keeping them very private, are you, though? Spilling them out like that. Anybody could get hold of all your secrets. You want to be careful with them.

Get out of my head!

Hate to break it to you, Martina, but I'm not in your head. I'm standing in front of you.

Greetings!

Oh, God.

No, it is I, Joey Boswell.

Don't be clever.

Tut, tut, sweetheart. Talking to yourself. One of the signs of madness, you know…

But…

How long have you been standing there?

Oh, about ten minutes, give or take.

Ten minutes.

About that, yes.

Ten MINUTES?! Do you mean to tell me you heard—that you just—that you just stood there listening to me for—why didn't you say something?

You didn't seem to notice I was here.

That's no excuse to eavesdrop! Oh, no. I really am going mad, aren't I?

Or you're simply starstruck by my presence.

The difference being?

The second one is a common affliction.

If I've gone mad, it's you who's done it to me.

Just a minute! What have I done wrong?

Claiming for allowances which aren't yours to claim for, dripping in finery and lying through your teeth about your family's financial situation, generally being arrogant and constantly mocking me for pointing out the above just slipped your mind, did they?

I never mocked you.

Did.

That was never my intention at all! I had no idea…I was only teasing you. I thought you liked it.

Oh, and I've never heard THAT one before.

Martina, I had no idea. And about how unhappy you are…all those things you were saying, sweetheart…

You shouldn't have been listening to those.

You shouldn't have been saying them out loud.

If you're not in my head…

I'm not.

And I'm not mad…

Debatable, that one.

And you are in fact really here and not a hallucination…

You hurt me when you say such things. I am too amazing…too phenomenal to be a mere creation of the psyche.

…then what are you doing here?

This is the DHSS, is it not?

It's also closed. If you're not a hallucination, then I KNOW you are aware of our opening and closing hours. If you want to claim, you can come back tomorrow morning, get in the queue and wait until we've taken the 'CLOSED' signs down.

Well, in fact, it was you I wanted to see.

Oh, yeah?

You see, I had been wandering the streets all day, pondering, wrestling with my conscience and my emotions…

Oh, here we go. Shakespeare wrote shorter soliloquies.

And it came upon me: a great revelation.

Go on. I assumed you were going to elaborate on what this so-called 'great revelation' you had was. You didn't have enough money for another posh car, perhaps?

There's no need to bring the Jag into it. The fact of it was, I desperately wanted to see you.

What for?

Not 'for' anything. Just to be around you.

Aren't I lucky?

My thoughts exactly…have you really only ever been outside this city once?

You shouldn't know that.

You shouldn't talk to yourself. In your best interests, I should probably escort you to the funny farm, but I'd miss seeing your lovely face behind the counter if you were sectioned.

Have you thought of a job as a comedian? My sides are splitting.

Where would you like to go? Most of all, in this entire country? Name it, and I shall take you there. Right now.

You think you're hilarious, I'm sure, Mister Boswell.

I've never been more serious, sweetheart. Come on. Name your destination and let's go.

And why would you do that?

Did you just kiss me?

You tell me, sunshine. This is your delusion.


Yeah, that was odd. Not meant to be taken really, really seriously or anything. As to whether Joey is in Martina's head and this is a daydream/fantasy, he's really there and she's been speaking out loud, or she's gone a little bit out of her mind due to stress, I'll leave that to you to decide. (I have my own thoughts, but I'm not going to say.)

I don't think I'll do another like this. It was just an experiment.