Absence of Light


“Within damage, desolation and destitution, will you find peace.” JSM

Day One

I had water, electricity and illumination at the safe-house but my inner light had vanished. I was a meandering corpse with a heartbeat.

After my time in slumber, for the full day’s stretch, I awoke with a startling jolt at nine at night and couldn’t remember where I was. The barren walls, cream colored ceiling and hard wooden floor swam around my periphery, and for a brief second, the temporary amnesia was soothing and washed away all the bad.

Then it came back like a flood. A bursting dam of reality that ripped away my moment of peace and I dropped my face into my palms sobbing like a child.

Get it together.  Breathebreathebreathebreathebreathe.

Day one. New life.

I opened my flip phone and dialed work, “Sorry so late, boss (sniff). I may need some personal time for a few days. Yes…Yes. No, I’ll get through it. I’ll be back on Monday.” When I heard the click through the receiver on the other end, I clenched my jaw and chucked the open phone with a sidearm pitch into the empty brick fireplace; watching as the device shattered into pieces.

For about twenty minutes thereafter, I cursed myself for destroying company property and depriving myself of a solid method of communication. Staring at the pieces, sitting cross legged at the hearth trying to make the phone operate again, to no avail.

WiFi won’t be here for another week. You IDIOT!

My bloodshot eyes opened wide in a moment of panic, I retrieved my laptop, turned it on, slow paced around the downstairs and waited for the internet connections around the neighborhood to appear in the corner of my screen.

Nothing?  Come on.  There’s houses nearby. Find something!

Three locked locations and one open connection with a weak signal, popped into view.

Better than nothing.

Then I couldn’t move. I was frozen to the floor mid-stride when the signal disappeared as I approached the center of the empty room. I retreated back a few paces towards the wall and the signal reconnected.

I lowered the computer to the floor at that hot spot in the house, as though I was placing a newborn into a cradle, and dropped slow to my knees. The signal increased by a singular bar and the connection held firm. I breathed a sigh of relief and opened the link.

My first internet visit was the bank. Had to see what the funds looked like. Payday was a few days away and other than the kids coming over in the unknown near future, I had an extra mouth to feed. Shelby slept on the wooden floor in the corner as I typed in my password.

Eight dollars and twelve cents.

Cutting it close, pal.

I logged out, scooted across the floor on all fours, pulled a piece of paper from my small printer and scrambled for a pen.

Along the top of the sheet I scribbled: Dog. Kids. You. Bills. Shelby now, the kids on payday.

Something told me to get the criteria down on paper and force an immediate list of priorities. Something tangible to focus on. I told myself it was necessary. Knowing if I didn’t create the reminders then and there, I wouldn’t care if I eventually forgot.

Feed your dog.

One of the perks of working where I work is I have access to a company car. In the early days of my employment, I traveled around the state for various meetings, training and seminars. It was suggested that I be allowed a car through the company to maintain my work related tasks and I have had access to it ever since. I don’t own my own vehicle. I haven’t in many years.

As a side effect, I’m limited to travel. I can’t pack up the company car and drive to New York for a family getaway. It’s used primarily for work. I try never to abuse the privilege that was bestowed to me so long ago.

Nancy on the other hand recently picked up a jeep, and says it’s mine (God love her)… but in reality, I don’t have my own wheels. And that’s just fine.

I invited Shelby along for the ride and we departed for dinner.

She ate well that night. I was able to purchase enough chow for her to last till payday. I, however, ate nothing. I couldn’t. Zero appetite, no motivation. A complete lack of any will or strength to do anything for myself. I hadn’t showered in three days. (Is it four now? Time slips away when you stop paying attention) I hadn’t eaten for three days at least. My face covered with stubble and dark bags under the eyes.

I kept my attention on the dog and watched her gobble down her generic, bland, dry food from the convenience store.

I sipped coffee from a Styrofoam cup at ten pm and pondered the second day of confinement. Just sleep it away. Stop drinking coffee. Go back to sleep. No. Not right now.

I stumbled to the kitchen, and felt a rise of discomfort in my lower belly. Please don’t get sick. No, no, no. Uh oh… 

I bolted for the bathroom, dropped my head into the toilet and whatever was in there, came out. Dry heave after dry heave after dry heave.

Once the dark crimson drained from my face, my breathing normalized and the tears wiped away I removed my trembling frame from the tiles, reached for the shower and flipped the lever.

On shaking unsteady legs, using the sink for help, I pulled myself to standing. I raised my eyes to the mirror, saw a collage of faces swirling through the shower mist and I can’t be sure why I reacted the way I did. I am not a violent person.

I thrust my knuckles forward as hard as I could and placed them at the center of the foggy mirror.

I think that may have been my first real punch. Of course, not ever having punched anything out of anger before, in my life, the mirror didn’t break right away. I had to connect with the glass three times before I was satisfied.

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