Summer never came this year. I mean, it did, but it didn’t come with any of the warmth and good memories that usually accompany it.
My father is sitting in the kitchen, counting the bullets in his revolver, taking them out and rolling them in-between his thumb and forefinger as if he’s trying to discern some universal truth through the small pieces of metal and death. Occasionally, he takes a sip from the glass of 18 year old scotch in his one hand, while placing the revolver to his left temple with his other hand.
My mother is invisible, yet equally divisible by the three Xanax she’s just taken with shaky hands. Her prescription ran out nine months ago, but she’s still taking them, never really herself; masking her sadness behind this veil of false euphoria. She sits alone in the living room, staring at her cabinet filled with the good china, the ones to be used only when guests come over, and the solitary bottle of 18 year old scotch staring at her; daring her to walk over and drown herself in the memories of years past.
And I’m standing outside on my balcony, looking up at the stars, steadily going through an entire package of cigarettes as I’m left alone with my thoughts.
Looking back, I should never have brought home that bottle. My parents were never heavy drinkers, but I thought it might have been nice to celebrate every once in awhile; on a special day like their anniversary. It was long after I had gone to bed that I heard them fight. I had heard them fight before, but this was different. Through my door, I could hear the muffled yells of my father saying how it wasn’t his fault his company was downsizing and that he didn’t know what to do. My mother, who had had a serious drinking problem when she was younger before she quit when she was pregnant with me, lunged for the bottle before my father has pushed her aside, yelling, “DON’T. YOU. DARE!” I couldn’t see any of this, but I couldn’t hear it any longer either. I ran down the stairs and saw my mother on the floor, one side of her face red from where my father had hit her, looking up at him with a steady stream of quiet tears flowing down her face.
As I stood there, with my mother looking at my father, and my father looking at me, I didn’t know what to do. They call that the staircase effect; it’s when you’re so caught up in the moment that the sense of action and words just escapes you. It’s only when you’re well past the actual event, usually on a staircase, that it hits you, and it’s much too late to do anything about it. Looking back at that one particular moment, I now knew what it was I should’ve done, but should haves and could haves don’t replace the fact that I didn’t do anything.
I finished the last of the cigarettes, and flicked the butt out into the street below, where it would become another one of the millions laying there, slowly rotting away; meaningless to everyone else, but a story to those whose lives they were briefly a part of. Looking into my house, I saw my father with his revolver, and the way his fingers played with the bullets as he absentmindedly drank his glass of scotch, and as my mother sat very still, with a hint of sadness upon her blank, drugged face.
Walking inside, I opened up my mother’s prized china cabinet, and took out the bottle. Opening it, I took a large swig, splashing most of it down my front, but that didn’t matter to me. Briefly swaying on the spot, as I wiped my mouth, I looked at the both of them, and walked out back onto the balcony. The slowly got up and walked over to the door, asking what I was doing, getting more and more frantic when I didn’t answer them as I climbed onto the banister.Exhale
“Three years. It’s funny how something so seemingly harmless, so innocent can completely turn your life around, isn’t it? I suppose that’s why most comedies are tragedies in disguise”
I took another swig, getting increasingly tipsy, as I swayed, trying to maintain my balance on the railing.
“Three years ago, I woke up and the sky was upside down. I guess I’ve been heading down the wrong path ever since then, and I guess it all has to do with that one bottle.”
Closing my eyes, I slipped backwards into the darkness of the night, like the millions of cigarettes extinguished as their brief life, their brief story, came to an abrupt end.