Martin drank his morning coffee staring at the calendar where “Last day” was circled in red ink. His watch chimed for 8:00. He rose, rinsed his mug, and went to work.

On the day Martin’s dad retired, the entire office stood to see him off. He handed his boss the office key, exchanging it for a firm handshake and a gold wristwatch. Martin was working there too and felt a swell of pride when the man that the whole office respected looked over his shoulder to give his son a smile and a nod. Ever since, he’d aspired to be the same, earning the respect of both supervisors and peers through the simple act of doing a job well.

“Farewell Martin” was the subject line of the email. There were just five replies, brief messages of congratulations from colleagues he hadn’t even seen in person for over a year. His memory of them had grown as fuzzy and grainy as their webcam footage.

The buzz of an error message. “Your access has been removed.” He read the message over and over until it became a blur of meaningless pixels. Finally, with a sigh, he powered off his computer and retired.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels