Noah Smith stared at the laptop in front of him with a bored expression on his face. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, he supposed he was what others considered tall. But these days, he had little to stand tall about. He had just got a mail from another company, politely telling him that the vacancy had been filled, and that he was free to apply to at a later date if he so wished to.
American society didn’t have much sympathy for lazy bums and quite frankly, Noah agreed with that sentiment. But his screwed-up GPA wasn’t for want on effort on his part, at the beginning he used to be a fairly decent student. If he claimed to be a straight A student that would have been a lie, but he had definitely come to college with a goal and the desire to work hard.
As far as extenuating circumstances go, his were as legitimate as it gets. Ah, just thinking about that time, how depressed he had been, brought back such pain that those memories were better left alone. He had written to the dean, chairman, and basically every teacher that had ever taught him for reconsideration, but college policy was like a giant axe hovering over his head. An axe that came crashing down, with the words ‘no extensions’ written on it in giant, blood red letters.
The rejection really didn’t bring him down, at least not too much, it was a long shot to begin with. He just wished the land of second chances would offer him a second chance, an opportunity to be part of some organization he really believed he could make a difference in, a place where he’d matter. He yearned for change, just one elevating chance was all he needed to turn his life around.
Some days, the heavy clouds of temptation rained a little harder, but Noah was still hanging on, still fighting. It would be easy to head to the 24/7 convenience store, grab a 12 pack of beers and empty them, one by one, till he was too drunk to care about any of it. And that was precisely the reason he couldn’t do it.
It was how his father had raised him, since childhood Noah was taught certain principles, a code in life to live by. He could almost hear his father’s words resound in his ears, “Noah, remember this. If you are given something in life too easily, or something feels like it’s too easy to do, think twice about it.” Oh, his dad had platitudes for everything, somehow taught him life lessons in the most mundane of daily interactions.
Noah remembered the one time they were at a popular fast-food chain on a Sunday, and there were only two other customers seated in the joint that day. Noah didn’t exactly remember what he’d said, but it was something along the lines of ‘can you hurry up’. His father was absolutely livid, and then proceeded to make him apologize to the cashier, and then thank him for his hard work. Back then it was humiliating, but now it was a cherished memory that taught him the importance of treating others with respect, especially the people who were sweating it out making food for you while you stuffed your mouth.
A solitary tear flowed down his right eye, and he hurriedly wiped it with his sleeve, even though there wasn’t anyone around to notice. ‘How am I supposed to do this without you, father,’ Noah lightly whispered to himself. It all felt so colorless, so grey after he was gone. The only reason Noah kept applying for job after job, each rejection only firming his resolve, was because he hoped it would give him back the purpose that had been taken away from him.
Noah chuckled lightly, as he thought, ‘that and how his dad had drilled the importance of perseverance into him.’ It was a Sunday afternoon, and his dad was driving him back from baseball practice. On the way back, they stopped near a bus station. His father got out, told Noah to follow him, and they walked past the bus station. They went to a nearby grocery store, and his father purchased groceries worth over 100 dollars from what young Noah could guesstimate, full of toiletries, processed foods, fresh bread and packaged cartons of milk. When Noah tried to add stuff to the pile, his dad told him that the items weren’t for them, and they’d come back later to buy stuff for home.
Once they were checked out, his father went out of the store, Noah following alongside, and greeted a homeless man. After exchanging some pleasantries, his father handed the entire bag of groceries to the homeless man, who tried to refuse multiple times, but after some persuasion he finally agreed.
Once they had walked back to the car, his father asked Noah, “Have you ever heard Tony’s story?”
To which Noah shook his head, confused by the sequence of actions his father had taken.
“See son, in this world, every man is not born equal. You have me watching over you, you live in a nice house, you don’t have to worry about putting food on the table. Now Tony, people like Tony are born with nothing, son. Tony is an orphan, he never had parents to watch over him, never had a roof over his head he could call his own, and getting food is a constant worry that hangs over his head. Now, when you met Tony, what was he doing?”
“He was smiling,” Noah said, and looked at his dad with concentration, unable to understand why a man like Tony could smile.
“You see son, all men are not born equal. Men like Tony are far superior to ordinary people like us. Tony never complains about his situation, always smiling at others and trying to cheer them up, always staying positive no matter what life has in store for them. They will keep trying, keep on running, keep on moving forward no matter what happens. I heard he’s due to start a job at Rick’s Pizzeria this week, son, and if he can keep at it then I don’t see why you think you can quit baseball just because there are others better than you. If you want to do something, don’t listen to others, don’t listen to me, and just damn well do it.”
A smile appeared of Noah’s lips as he recalled those words, they warmed his heart after the rejection. If Tony could keep running, then so would he. Noah had just been mindlessly scrolling through a social media site on his laptop, but just as he was about to close the window and get back to work, something caught his attention.
“How odd,” Noah said to himself, as he clicked on the video.
"In breaking news, ancient, mottled looking tower-like structures have appeared all across the United States. Similar sightings have been reported around the world, including parts of Russia, China, Germany, India....."
"Attempts to approach the towers have been met with failure. A force field powered by unknown means resists any form of modern weaponry or attempts to enter in a 10-kilometer radius of the tower. This is believed to be Earth's first contact with some sort of alien civilization...."
"The President of the United States has urged citizens to maintain calm, stating that these mysterious structures pose no immediate threat to the daily lives of the populace, though further investigation is required...."