I felt my stomach cramp as I fell to my side and heaved so hard, I thought I was turning inside out. The liquor I had drank spewed on knees as I curled up in the fetal position. The pressure in my head made it ring bad enough I ran my fingers over my ears to be sure they were not bleeding. If I were not almost certain I was already dead, I would have thought I was dying.

I felt I could no longer experience the stories I was being told. There was so much hate and fear within each person’s heart. I knew I had to be in Hell, until the pain stopped as quick as it started. I propped myself upward on my hands and knees and attempted to look through the window I was so attentively watching the stories through.

The other side of the window was completely black. All I could see was my reflection. It was calming to see someone familiar. Until my reflection started to change into another man’s face. A man I had never met before but still yet familiar like I was experiencing deja vue. I would say it was the look of hopelessness. I had seen it in my own reflection a countless number of times.

My thoughts were interrupted by the voices. I listened as they told me as I am telling you…

Brian lay down on his couch and tried to sleep. He could hear his heart pounding in his head, so he decided to change positions. Lying on his back was less comfortable but at least now he did not have to hear the obnoxious pounding.

              Brian started thinking of the circulatory system and how fragile it was. If one line were severed and not repaired the life it supported would die.

              He tried to compare it to an engine and think of the similarities. He was disappointed. Yes, there was pressure and circulation required for both. Without oil an engine would fail but oil was merely a lubricant while blood vitalized its host. Brian shook his head at the poor analogy and rolled over to his side again.

There it was again, the damned pounding. He wished he had thought that decision through.

Brain did not even bother rolling back over when he realized how cold it was inside his apartment. Not only did the neighbor’s walls let out sound but also whatever temperature their apartment was at, his was not long to follow. He had to turn the heat on or else he would never fall asleep. Brian did not mind the heat being on. The humming helped drown out the occasional sounds of the outside world and even more so the silence.

              Whenever the heater kicked on Brain lay back down. The humming of the heater was working. In the midst of dozing off he realized he needed to use the restroom. He debated whether he needed to go until he found himself tossing and turning from being so uncomfortable. He got up once again and made his way to the upstairs bathroom.

              Brian always forgot to lift the toilet seat and occasionally he would dribble small amounts of urine on it. So, out of courtesy for his wife and obvious sanitary reasons he would pull some toilet paper to wipe the seat off.

              After wiping the seat off Brian washed his hands. As he looked into the mirror the exhaustion he saw in his eyes startled him. He had to get some sleep. He only had six hours until he had to be up in the morning to work at both jobs. Even in the middle of what seemed to be an apocalypse currency was still needed… for the meantime.

Sixteen-hour days were not easy on a man who could not sleep. As Brian started to walk downstairs his bedroom caught the corner of his eye.

              It was dark, empty, and lifeless. He could not take it. He could not stand feeling like he was so alone, so he turned the light on. The fan turned on as well bringing a little extra life into the room. This would be better except for the fact that now he could see all the pictures on the wall and the neatly made bed that he had not touched since she made it.

              Brian felt the painful realization of his existence. He was alone in a place he once called home. He contemplated that maybe he had pushed her too hard and chased her away. Brian had a quote that he lived by ever since he was a child. “Just because were not as rich as kings doesn’t mean we can’t live like them.”

              Since he worked two jobs and she worked one he would put a brunt of the house responsibilities on her. He would help occasionally on his days off but those were few and far between.

              Brian had such high standards when it came to cleanliness, and it was not fair for him to put that obligation onto her. He was not her boss, he was her partner.

              There were probably a dozen compromises they could have both came to. May be that was the problem. There was no communication. May be if he would have taken an hour out of his routine, they could have worked out their issues. One missed hour of sleep after all is nothing compared to a full sleepless night without her close to him. It was too late though. After the things he said she would never want him back.

Hopelessness and the lack of a conclusion weighed on Brian. His body felt heavy and like it was trying to shut down, at least for a whole so he didn’t have to think. There was one more room he could have stopped at but, he decided to save those tears for another night.

Brian had an odd sense of closure now, so he was more relaxed than he was before. It only took about ten minutes, and he was about to doze off, that was, until his phone rang.

Infuriated, Brian got up to answer his phone. “Hello!”

A calm voice answered, “Hey Brian, it’s me Sam.”

“Hey Sam, Rebecca told me your stupid ass was going to join the weepers. Bad idea dumbass.” Brian then grew concerned as to why his brother-in-law was calling him at one in the morning. Brian stuttered, “I-Is everything ok Sam?”

“No, no it’s not.”

“What happened Sam?”

“Someone ran Rebecca off the road and…” Brian could hear Sam sobbing.

“Were the kids with her?”

Sam’s next words washed over Brian like raw sewage. “Yes Brian, I’m so sorry but they’re gone. They’re all gone.”

“You didn’t…” Sam hung up the phone before Brian could ask his question. Brian threw his phone against the wall. He cried, he screamed, he went back upstairs to the bathroom and threw up asking why God would commit such a cruel act. If anyone could have willed themselves to die it would have been Brian at that moment.

He walked into his kid’s room, covered up the windows, shut the door, and sat down in the dark. The possibility of getting his family back was gone. His life no longer served any purpose.

July 09, 2021 15:36

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Shannon McCumber
13:27 Jul 15, 2021

Hi Travis, I'd like to start off by saying that I think you are talented in writing. Although, I got confused when the story went from first person to third person p.o.v. and it seemed like the entire story changed as well. I think that if you separated the beginning and the end into two different stories, the plot would be stronger in each. Also, (I have trouble with it too) the tenses in the story continuously went back and forth to past and present tense. Again, I'm only saying this because I think you have talent and I'm just trying to h...


Dean Atlas
13:55 Jul 15, 2021

Thank you very much for your input. Sometimes the things that seem so simple tend to escape my grasp. The first part makes sense with the previous four stories, starting with "Empathetic Endeavor". Both are actually part of the same story. As far as the tenses... yea I messed that up. Again, I really do appreciate your input. I have a lot of interesting, different stories to tell and I would love to improve.


Shannon McCumber
14:38 Jul 15, 2021

I did not realize that before, it does make more sense to me now. We all mess up on tenses, it's okay. It helps if I wait a whole day after writing to go back and edit it. Keep writing, Travis!


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