Sam moved around the office, pacing like a panther in an enclosure only a fraction of a percent the size of the habitat some instinct said it was entitled to. Papers lay in stacks around the small office, taking up space on his desk, on the chairs, on the shelves where they eclipsed the books meant to be held there. Little free space was available.

But it had been worth it. It had been worth all the effort and the late nights and the three failed relationships and the 20 pounds he’d lost simply be forgetting to eat for 24 hours at a time, so engrossed was he in his work. It had all paid off as he stared at the sheet of paper he held in his hand, the one that represented the fundamental breakthrough he’d been striving toward.

His mind raced with the possibilities, the potential he’d just unlocked. Who would he tell first? It needed to be someone notable, someone who would intuitively understand the ramifications, someone who knew him and knew how hard he’d worked. A member of the press? A colleague? The first call, the first notification he’d succeeded, would be notable and be a part of the story that would be recounted in the retelling and so it needed to hold more than a little import.

Suddenly the paper slipped from his hands. He felt faint. Looking at the clock he saw it was late, almost midnight. No one else was in the building, he knew, only the security guard he’d long since discouraged from trying to make small, friendly conversation as it interrupted his late-night work. This was it, he knew. A life of self-imposed isolation and solitude had all let to this moment and there was no one he intuitively wanted to share it with. No one was at the top of his mind, holding the important designation of the person who needed to be told in order for anything to be real.

The faintness was due to a drop in blood sugar, he knew, that was following the rush of adrenaline he had felt upon realizing he’d crossed the finish line, reached the summit. He needed a damn cookie or something. If he’d lived his life differently, he thought, someone would be here with him to enjoy the moment and get him a snack. More than that, they would never have allowed him to do go so long without eating or drinking something in the first place.

He shuddered as if the pride were vacating a physical space in his body and into the vacuum was rushing the embodiment of regret. He’d achieved so much and there was no one around him, seemingly in the whole world.

The paper holding his monumental breakthrough sat on the floor, stark white against the dark of the wood planks. Sam looked down at it and saw nothing. It would be at least seven hours until anyone else came to work. His office door was slightly ajar, likely the result of his thoughtlessness as he couldn’t be bothered to check that detail in his rush toward a conclusion. Someone would look into the space between the door and its frame and see him sitting there, staring blankly into the void that was his life as he contemplated how it could all be so much and yet amount to so little.