Does he look in the mirror before he leaves the house?
At the shirt, discoloured from over washing, dimpled fabric that never sees an iron. A sheen of sweat coats him even on the coolest days and dirt driven into pores makes his skin grey – a man always walking in shadow. A broad, flat smile – mouth stretched wide – is his permanent expression, revealing chipped teeth stained ivory by early morning nicotine and late night coffee. A furred tongue licks feathered lips.
He tries hard to be someone, but he can’t hide the truth. It’s there in his eyes.
He’s afraid. Of failure. Of being seen to fail. He works hard achieving nothing and knows one day the facade of competence he’s built to fool himself and the world will be shattered by a misplaced word or a slip on a keyboard, taking job and money, family – his sense of self – with it.
That day will come but not today. Today, he survives.