Mono-Life

Scott waved hello to Greg as he walked past his cubicle on the way to the break room, as he did every morning before his shift started.  Despite the fact that Greg and Simon had cubicles facing each other, Scott never bothered to wave at Simon.  Why would he, after all?

“Good morning to you, too,” Geoff said, as Scott approached the vending machines.  “So what’s new with you?”

“Oh, nothing much,” Scott replied, as he pulled out his wallet.  “Feeding my coffee habit.  I stayed up late last night for no good reason.  Mostly I spent the night watching TV.  Discovery, History, EPSN, and some local sit-coms.  Whatever floats my boats, you know.”  He retrieved the cup from the vending machine, and held it up to his face to breathe in the fumes.

“You do have a lot of boats,” Geoff said, nodding in agreement.  “Myself, I was split evenly between reading and workout out at the gym.  Lately, I’ve been- hang on, I’ve got to get this.”  Geoff silenced his phone and walked over into a secluded corner of the room.


“Sorry about that,” Greg said, spinning around in his chair to talk to Simon.  “Anyway, I thought the doctor said you weren’t allowed to have coffee anymore?”

“Nah, he’s just worried about my acid reflux,” Simon countered.  “As long as I’m careful about- oh, you’re done.  That was a quick call.”


Scott waited for Geoff to walk back over before continuing.  “So anyway, as long as I’m careful about not drinking too much soda at night, I’m still good.  And even if it wasn’t good, I’d be drinking it anyway.  I need my morning coffees.”

“Yeah, I hear you there,” Geoff said, nodding in agreement.  “Personally, I don’t know how I’d ever- oh, hey there, Ben!”  He waived at the newcomer to the room, who decided to join them in conversation.  “Ben, meet Scott.  Scott, meet Ben.”

“Nice to meet you,” Scott said, shaking Ben’s hand.  “So, who all around here are you?”

“He means what department do you work in,” Geoff added quickly, shooting Scott an angry glare.


“Are you mental?” Greg yelled, smacking Simon upside the head.  “Don’t ask him that!  Ben is a mono-lifer!”

“Wait, seriously?” Simon said, spinning around in his chair.  “I didn’t realize that was even possible.  And he doesn’t know he’s defective?  Is he even right in the head?”

“Be nice,” Greg said, rolling his eyes.  “Most mono-lifers are still able to function in society.  Heck, Ben isn’t even aware of what he’s lost.  His parents made sure he was born that way.  It’s some weird religious thing, I think.”


“Oh…uh, they recently hired me on in accounting,” Ben said, rubbing the back of his head.

“Cool, cool,” Scott replied, nodding his head.  “So, how do you like it so far?”


“Fresh blood in accounting?  Thank God for that,” Simon said.  “Maybe with his help, Kyle will actually get budget outlines sent out earlier than a week before a project is due.”

Greg laughed.  “Right?  I mean, he’s got fifteen of himself working in that department.  You’d think he could get a lot more accomplished.”


“Oh, well, it’s a job,” Ben said, with a shy laugh.  “I mean, a few days isn’t really much time to form an opinion, but I’m liking it so far.  Calvin and Kevin are pretty nice, and Kate’s been helping me out whenever I have computer issues.  I mean, Kyle seems like a by-the-book boss, but… yeah, I dunno.”

“Ahh, Kyle’s no so bad,” Geoff said, with a dismissive wave of his hand.  “Once he gets to know you, I’m sure he’ll get more relaxed around you.”


“So, wait, Ben really doesn’t know what a freak he is?” Simon asked, rolling his chair across the floor to talk to Greg.

“For the last time, no,” Greg said, putting down his pen.  “Didn’t one of you read the company memo?  We’re all going to have to be careful about which body talks to Ben, so that there are no slip-ups.”

“Ugh, seriously?  What a pain in the ass!  Why did we hire this guy, again?”

Greg shrugged.  “We had to.  We can’t discriminate; you know that.  Civil rights act, and all that jazz.  Besides, he double majored in accounting and business management.  He’s well qualified.  He’s just… you know, different.”

“Understatement of the year,” Simon muttered.


“I hope so,” Ben said.  “Well, anyway, I need to get back to my desk.  Good seeing you, Geoff.  Nice to meet you, Scott.”  He walked over to the door, waving goodbye to the both of them before he left the room.


“So, wait, what happens when he gets bored and wants to switch over to another point of view?”  Simon asked.

“He can’t.”

“So then how does he skip over the dull bits by going on autopilot, when he doesn’t want to micromanage things?”

“He doesn’t,” Greg said.  “Autopilot is what happens to your other lives when you’re not actively focused on them.  Ben only has the one, so he can’t do that.”

“What?  But what if he’s having a really bad day, or he gets sick?”

Greg rolled his eyes.  “Then he just has to deal with the bad day, or cope with being sick.”

“Seriously?  But what about when-“

“Simon.  He suffers from mono-life.  What part of the prefix “mono” do you not understand?”

“Ugh, I know, I just…” Simon paused as he watched Ben walk past.  He waived, and Ben flashed a quick smile in return.  “I just can’t wrap my head around how much that would suck, living the same life, day-in and day-out like that.”

“I know what you mean,” Greg said, nodding in agreement.  “That poor man.  He’ll never understand how bad he has it.”

Neil Siemers grew up in Derby, Kansas, a comparatively small town south of Wichita. He moved to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas, and hasn't left since. Neil likes to pretend that he is a big shot full time writer, although it's probably closer to a hobby. Either way, it's funded by a full-time job in the insurance industry, where he happily works as a cog in the machine for The Man so that bills can be paid.

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