December 15, 2022 — 7 min read
He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary
Milton was on his way to the factory. It wasn't a long walk from his flat to work.
In fact, it was a pleasant walk except for House 7. He had to pass House 7 to get to the factory. Boja was at House 7.
As soon as Boja sensed Milton approaching, Milton heard it come staggering down toward the wall. As usual, Boja's sudden appearance startled Milton - causing him to reflexly jerk back. Once at the wall Boja stood there watching Milton through a small cut out in the wall. Boja never did anything besides stand there and that was enough to terrify Milton.
"What does it want?" Milton thought, continuing his journey to the factory. He cast a cautionary look back and Boja was still there, just watching. For the remainder of his walk, he found his mind plagued by Boja. Boja had only recently started stalking Milton. Maybe Boja always been at House 7 and Milton just hadn't noticed.
"What an awful thing, gets a kick from scaring me". When he arrived at the factory he finally forgot about Boja and got stuck into his work. The day went by quickly and before long it was time for his lunch break.
Virgil was already in the cafeteria waiting for him. Milton put his tray on the table and plopped himself down next to Virgil. Virgil barely noticed Milton's arrival, too preoccupied with trying to remove the foil from a yoghurt. "You shouldn't be eating so much yoghurt," Milton asserted. "You worry too much,'' Virgil retorted.
"Whatever. I read that it's bad for your cholesterol - do you have to have it everyday?"
"That doesn't sound right and, besides, it's just so delicious." Virgil scoffed.
"Suit yourself, but you should pay more attention to those things. We're not young men any more you know?" Milton droned.
Visibly excited, Virgil beamed. He had successfully peeled the foil off his snack. "It's open, now I have to eat it!" he exclaimed as Milton rolled his eyes.
The two of them sat eating in relative silence, with the buzz of the cafeteria humming in the background.
After some time, Virgil began aggressively digging into the yoghurt container with his spoon, trying to scrape out the last drabs.
"Have I told you about Boja? The thing at House 7 that watches me?" Milton said, trying to seem as nonchalant as possible.
"What on earth is a 'Boja'?" Virgil queried.
"I'm not entirely sure. Maybe a person, maybe an animal. I can only see its eyes, it stares at me through a hole in the wall at House 7." Milton responded.
"House 7? I've never seen such a thing at House 7." Virgil affirmed.
"That's because you have a car, you wouldn't notice it while driving. I have to walk. And lately, whenever I get to House 7 I see it there, watching me."
"And does it do anything when you walk by?" Virgil questioned.
"Nope. It just gazes at me. It really does terrify me though."
"This sounds absurd. Why do you call it Boja?" Virgil probed.
"I just made it up. I don't even know why I gave it a name. It honestly just makes it more creepy."
"And why am I only hearing about this 'Boja' now? I mean, how long has this thing been watching you for?" Virgil asked, digging.
"I don't know. I realise how ridiculous it all sounds, especially now that I'm vocalising it. I've been okay keeping it in my head up until now. Something about the way it was watching me today just really bothered me."
"This can't be true. I'm going to go to House 7 with you today after work. I want to see Boja for myself." Virgil declared.
"Please do. You are always telling me I worry too much and that I'm always overthinking. Well come have a look. You'll see it for yourself." Milton rebutted.
"Absolutely, I will come. And yes, you do worry too much." Virgil declared, picking up his tray and leaving the table.
"I'll see you after work, meet at the main gate and we'll go to House 7 together." he shouted across the cafeteria.
Milton finished up his lunch, including his yoghurt. He felt conflicted about Virgil offering to come with him to House 7. What if he was seeing things? What if it wasn't there? But of course he knew Boja was real. He'd seen him at House 7 for the last week.
The blood sugar spike from lunch caused time to slow down. The rest of Milton's work day seemed to drag on forever.
After what felt like aeons, it was nearly time to head off. He finished up a few tasks, gathered his things and made his way to the main gate.
Unsurprisingly, Virgil was already there waiting for him.
"What are you going to do about your car?" Milton half-shouted walking over to Virgil.
"Man, you really do worry too much. I'll come back and get it. House 7 isn't that far anyway." Virgil replied, putting his hand on Milton's shoulder once Milton reached him. Milton, quite anxious about all of this, felt a pang of peace in Virgil's carefree presence.
"After you, braveheart" Milton joked, signalling Virgil to lead the way.
The two of them set off to House 7. As the walls of House 7 climbed into view, Milton felt his anxiety grow in parallel. Was Virgil just playing it cool, or was he secretly nervous too? He always seemed so poised and carefree. A few moments later they were directly outside House 7. Milton heard Boja stalking over and suddenly its face appeared at the hole. Milton, once again, jumped back when Boja appeared. Virgil, on the other hand, packed out laughing.
"You're scared of that" he bellowed, pointing at Boja (who stood staring, unmoving).
"Milton, I'm going to ring the bell and show you something," he continued.
"What? Are you positively insane? Do you not see it? Just gawking at us?" Milton protested. But it was too late, Virgil had already rang the bell.
"Please can I just go? I don't like this kind of thing," Milton pleaded, eyes darting back and forth between Virgil and Boja.
His cries were interrupted by the rattling of the gate of House 7. A key could be heard twisting into place. Milton instinctively moved behind Virgil. The gate eased open. In the opening that came into being, there stood no monster. No creature was waiting for him. No, no danger at all indeed. In fact, behind the ominous gate of House 7 stood a man and his dog.
"Well how can I help you two?" the old man inquired with a kind voice. Milton was completely dumbstruck.
Noticing this, Virgil stepped forward.
"Oh my, I'm terribly sorry sir, I believe we have the wrong house. Please forgive us." Virgil answered.
The oldman, looking puzzled, simply said, "Very well, I hope you find what whoever you are looking for."
"Thank you sir, and sorry once again." Virgil replied. With that, the old man turned about and closed the gate gently behind him - his fading strength revealing itself.
"You know Milton, you worry too much." Virgil said, smiling at his friend.
We'd be wise to keep an eye out for Bojas in our own minds. Apprehensive thoughts are quick to sprout where we plant seeds of doubt or anxiety. More often than not, our concerns and fears amount to nothing, yet we allow ourselves to be held captive by them. And sometimes, our fears when confronted, are not even scary at all.
Check in on yourself, on your fears and the things planting those seeds and be sure not to let them grow.
Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.