10:20 pm. A little late for a date but who the hell cares? The chilly air enters my nostrils as I sigh heavily, and hopeless; waiting for love. “She should’ve been here by now,” I whisper to my pitiful self. I told her around 10:00. She maybe running a bit late or just never come.
Darn. I miss my kids already. It’s been 5 months since I last saw them. I don’t even know how I was able to cope up with the parting away thing. But I guess that’s that. Like any father, I want the best for them.
I’m already finishing my 4th cup of coffee and its my 8th attempt to come meet her and talk. It would be surprising if she actually showed up. As I glance at the window, hoping to see her, I saw vehicles and motorcycles stopping by the resto. Some pass. Some stayed. Just like people.
10:30 turned into 12:00 as I make my way home to my grey apartment. As I exit the shop I notice that there was this tall man in a trench coat entering the doors. He darted his eyes to mine and his brows furrowed. I didn’t want trouble so I just left.
“Honey, Kids, I’m home,” is what I would have said as the door creeks open. But no. Its too late for that. It won’t happen again.
My chest was starting to narrow maybe because of too much caffeine. I felt like going crazy and trapped. I felt like an idiot for letting this all happen. I made a mistake and this is what I get.
As the sanity in me evaporated, I went to my kitchen. Gazed upon the sink, knife set, and back to the sink. 8 attempts to live, 1 attempt to die. Seems fair to me. I knew a stab on the shoulder wont kill me, nor a slit on my throat. I banged my skull on the kitchen sink as I punish my shoulders for shrugging every time she asked if I was okay. My eyes get woozy and all I saw was a bright morning, and my kids running up to me.
Of course I didn’t die. I woke up in the ICU and my wife was sitting near the door. “Now you come and meet me,” I say to her as I try to smirk at her. “You are unbearable, Darrel. Now I don’t know what to tell the kids,” she replies as she stands up and comes near my bed with her arms crossed. She was wearing her work clothes and with her classy bag and a signature red lipstick. “How are they?,” I ask. “They’re fine. Specially without you.” I look down. She started speaking again. Words that I never wanted to hear. “I want to go on with my life. Together with my kids. Without you, and you’re silly games and toys. I sorted it with my parents and my lawyer. We are getting divorced,” she said as she gave me a brown envelope. Papers. Of course. “The hospital bills are paid. Cabe will take care of you and take you home once you are released. If you try to kill yourself again, you’re on your own. I wont come rushing here anymore. Be strong for yourself and at least try to be a good example until your kids can finally meet you again. Don’t be an idiot again, Darrel. I’ll need you signatures soon. Now I have to go. I have to get my coffee quite far now.” And she left like how the sun sets. But this time, it wasn’t going to rise again.
3 months. 3 empty months. I often find myself waiting at the same resto during late nights. Maybe she’ll finally come. Cabe, a friend from work, visits me at my misery. Asks me how I’m doing. “Wounded shoulder, mild concussion, divorced, empty, depressed. How ‘bout you, Cabe?,” I normally answer him.
He already referred me to many, many doctors; trying to treat my “unhealthiness.” None of them really succeeded. “This one doctor worked at the asylum once. She’s really good,” Cabe says as he takes a bite of the bagel he brought. “You’ve said that about the other 12 doctors. I’m getting tired of being treated for being tired.” He stares at me with pitiful eyes. Oh boy, how I hate this. “One more shot, Darrel. Come on.” I didn’t debate with myself for he seemed like the only person who cared. “Okay. Last one,” I say as I finish my coffee from the Lower East Side of Brooklyn. It’s weird of him to drive so far for coffee.
I push and pull myself around the busy streets of Brooklyn, New York to make my way to the psychologists office. “Dr. Philia Fraxon. Psychologist,” was engraved on the silver plaque on the door. I open it and see a woman sitting behind a desk. The office had great large windows where you can see a beautiful view of Brooklyn. There was a long sofa, some chairs, plants, books, a table, a spinning chair, and some candy in a bowl. I’m not really the best at describing the beauty of things.
“You must be Darrel Cooper,” she says as she stood up. Friendly faced. “I am. I was recommended here by a friend,” I reply as I sit down for she was motioning me to. “Ah yes, Cabello. I’ve known him since high school. Now, why don’t you lay down and relax while I ask questions,” she instructed me. But I already knew this was what’s going to happen. She then takes her notepad and pen. “Okay, Darrel. What happened?,” she asked and I knew this is the part where I tell the story. “9 months ago I started getting trashy at work and everything was a blur and I was stressed with life so me and my wife were slowly falling apart until she decided to take the kids because as much as I agree with her, I can’t take care of them. I moved away as they moved as well. Later on, I regret it and miss her so I keep asking her to meet up with me and then she doesn’t show up and I felt sad so I attempted to end my life but I survive and the moment I woke up in ICU, she tole me that we were getting divorced and we’ve been divorced for 2 months now.” I glanced to her as I finished speaking and she was looking at my hands which were on top of my belly. “Your hands are stable,” she points out. “Oh, should I be shaking?,” I ask her jokingly. “I was expecting a bit more from someone who seems to have gone through a lot. But I guess listening to his tragedies as if it was casual noon-time interview kinda gives it away,” she states as she stands up to get water. I sit up as she hands me the paper cup. “So Darrel, are you feeling great?,” she asks. “Uh. I’m stable,” I answer. “We won’t be doing any weird exercises don’t worry. That’s not my specialty,” she said while trying to hold back her laughter as I break a smile. I’ll skip you the drama. I see her almost 3 times a week for about 3 months now. I have been feeling great and its weird according to Cabe but I let it slide cause without him, I never would’ve met Philia.
7:30. I drove all the way to Queens to have a special dinner with her. And for the first time ever in years, someone finally came to meet me. “Queens is slightly distanced from Brooklyn, you know,” she says as she sat down. “Please, the distance between the two is just more time for me to be with you,” I reply as I gesture for the menu. And as the Gelatto ran out, I told her the truth, “I think I’ve fallen for you, Doc.” Her eyes widen and wander. A reaction I was scared to see. “I’m afraid I am only a rebound,” she replies. Should’ve seen that coming. “I know you think you are. But I know my feelings. I do like you,” I reach for her hands that were now shaking. “And now you’re shaking,” I tell her, while I remember the quick observation she has made during the first consultation I had with her. “But you still aren’t,” she says with hesitation in her voice. “Oh, my hands aren’t shaking,” I tell her as her eyes sadden “but my heart is.”
Hand in hand, we walked outside of the restaurant, feeling complete as ever. We cross the night streets of Queens and then she stops. She giggles and looks at me straight in the eyes. Her smile then lessens. “Remember your 8th night at the resto in Brooklyn?,” she asks while looking away. She looked pale and it was getting smoky. “Uh, yeah. Uhm, how did you know?,” I asked her with much curiosity in my voice. She turns paler and thinks got more blurrier. “I think it’s getting foggy. We should hurry up,” I say as I try to walk again. But she was just standing there and she holds my hand, stopping me from leaving. “I counted every night that you were there. Every night looking grayer and grayer. Until the 8th night, when I knew you had enough. I was going to stop you from leaving but it was too late,” she says as tears roll down her cheeks. “You told me its never too late. Why didn’t you say anything before?,” I asked her still filled with questions. “It was not my task nor I had the will to do so. Please wake up. Now.”
My eyes jolt open and I breathe heavily. I see a bright light and a white. It’s a ceiling. And as I turn my head sideward I see my wife and kid. They ran to me and hug me. “Daddy, you’re awake!,” exclaimed my child as she hugs me. “Now Jennie, you’re daddy is still healing. Easy on the hugs,” says my wife. I wasn’t able to utter a word. “Jennie, why don’t you go to your Uncle Cabe. He’s outside waiting for you with your brother so you can eat. Mommy will take care of daddy,” my wife reassures my kid. Jennie then kisses me on the cheeks and leaves. “Darrel, I’m sorry,” and I thought I knew where it was going.
7:10am. A normal morning in Brooklyn. I’ve been out of the hospital for 5 months and I’m back to work. “Stay safe, daddy,” Jennie says as she kisses my cheek for I have to leave. “You too, darling, You keep an eye on your older brother, okay?,” my son, Jackson, was still in his room getting ready. “Yes, daddy!,” she says with a smile. And as I approach the front door, I am taken back by my wife who then gives me a passionate kiss on the lips. “Stay safe you idiot,” she reminds me as she pinches my nose. I kiss her forehead, “I will.” I make my way to the re-opened coffee shop nearby. I never really knew what happened here. I approach the counter and see the old guy who served me coffee before when I was still waiting here on nights. “Hey! Looking good man. I guess that table wasn’t able to ruin your good looks,” he says as he prepares my coffee. I had no idea about what he was talking about. “Table?,” I ask. “Oh you know. The night of the hostage where you tried to stop him but you ended up getting slammed in the table by this guy and you pass out. It was heroic of you, really. And that scar on your forehead doesn’t really ruin your charisma so no need to hide the story,” he then laughs, while my mind is spinning again. He notices I am zoning out. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember? I heard you fell in a coma for 4 months. How long you’ve been out?,” he asks. “5 m-mo-months,” I stutter. I was losing my mind. “Good for you. I’m glad the new owner of the resto recruited us old staffs or we would’ve been goners,” he says as he hands me my coffee. New owner? I was about to ask until I remembered I still have work. And as I exit the shop I saw a space where people in the resto takes a glance and frowns. I took a glance myself. And I should have not. Because hanging on the cream wall, was a picture of the owner who I heard was shot during the hostaging. “Dr. Philia Fraxon. Psychologist, Former Owner. She fought with every last breath.”