“That’s it. It’s over.” Joey said, his voice shaking slightly although his face was set in an expressionless mask. “The company is dead.”

The words hung in the air for several seconds, too heavy to leave room for anything else. No one else spoke. After a minute, a few people started cleaning out their desks in a daze while others clumped together in quiet huddles, whispering and crying. Joey stared at the room without seeing it, drowning in the surreal loss he couldn’t quite process yet.

This room would look very different by the end of the day, when the desks had all been cleaned out. He would have to come back tomorrow and do something with the furniture. By the end of the week, it would be nothing but an empty unit, just like the ones on either side. Four days after that when the month was officially over, he wouldn’t even be allowed inside to stare at the blank walls and try to remember what they looked like before—that’s the end of the lease. It was the end of everything.

Everyone in the creative industries is on the same roller coaster. First, the elation of a reality where they get to live their dream career, followed by the reality that it’s a lot less fun when it’s a job, but it’s still cool. Then, there’s the rise and fall of demand, leading to the feast and famine of finances. Some manage to secure enough work early on to establish themselves while others don’t find quite enough work to stay afloat. When the money’s gone, it’s just gone—no more rented studio or ten-editor team, and no more open-concept kitchenette. It’s a long fall from a lofty break-room stocked with healthy treats all the way down to ramen for dinner.

And then the reality of getting a job, likely one they didn’t want or they would have done that in the first place. Stability is quite a motivator—if they could have been happy doing anything else, they would be. The high percentage of creative ventures that don’t take off is well known, but being in the majority doesn’t make it any better.

Joey numbly walked back into his office while it was still his and sank into his chair. He opened his email and saw the full in-box, knowing that he had nothing but bad news for everyone. There was one he wanted to answer—Kimberly had written four times without a reply, and he owed her at least that. Ripping off the proverbial bandaid quickly, he typed a short message apologizing for the silence and simply stating, “we’re in the process of breaking down the company.” Formal, professional, and poisonous, but true. He hit send and slumped back.

The phone rang in less than two minutes. He didn’t answer it. Two minutes after that, his cell phone rang. He looked at the number. It was Kimberly. He answered.

“Joey—oh my...what can I do?” Kimberly was clearly at a loss for words, something that had never happened before as far as Joey could tell. “You guys were doing great, we were talking about expansion, and now...it’s over? Say it ain’t so.”

“Wish I could,” Joey said, exhaling heavily into the receiver. “It’s just time, you know? It takes time to do projects, it takes time to find new projects, and the bills come every month, right on time. When the math doesn’t work, it’s over. That’s it.”