CW: Strong language
Losing faith in humanity is justifiable... unless you had no faith to begin with.
My life surrendered to the demons of the war. Night terrors left me making trips involuntarily to my dresser, occasionally tripping over dress shoes and boxes on the floor. Reliving nightmares over and over again in hopes they would become after thoughts, but only awakening to sweat blotched T’s.
A constant vibration near my head woke me, another on and off night of sleep left my mental in shambles. I turned off my phone alarm and just laid in my swampy nightwear. My stomach was screaming from the awful mixture of Cheap liquor and sushi; My joints moaned in agony with every menacing tread towards the bathroom.
A handful of cutting cold-water brought my sunken skin to life. My patchy gray beard- brittle and full of split-ends...an unkept mess, just the way my demons liked it. I reached for my trimmer and a can of shaving cream. This mirror showcased all of my faults, I was a man dying to live. Who was the man looking at me in the mirror, did he understand the hell I faced on a daily? After a much needed self-loving moment in the bathroom, I made my way towards Claire. “Your daughter is coming to see us today, any suggestions for dinner?” I carefully polished the body of the urn, meticulously removing any smudges with each rotation. “I was thinking of the bourbon baked chicken with rice and honey glazed carrots.”
I gave the brass urn a small peck, “love you”.
I preheated the oven and prepped the chicken. Christmas themed music accompanied the main dining area; Aroma from the Cinnamon scented candles hugged the contradicting scents from the kitchen. I checked my phone every other minute. A feeling of dread and excitement came over me.
Would she enjoy the meal?
What if we get into another holiday argument and she leaves?
Will she like the special meal I made?
My phone buzzed and a notification read, “I’m here”. I walked towards the living room blinds and peeked through. The outside lights lined along the driveway showcased another silhouette. My heart dropped…
Who the fuck was that closing the passenger door?
Was that a man?
I walked over to the front door and applied my public face. I opened the door and was greeted with smiles. I could see him hiding behind her like a little boy in the checkout line with his mother
“ Oh my god Emma- you look more and more like your mother every-time I see you”.
“Dad... this is my boyfriend Matthew”.
She moved to the side and revealed the shy fellow. His beard was full and majestic, his build was impressive and far better than me in my younger days. Bicep indents protruded out of his wool overcoat.
“Nice to meet you, guys get comfortable, I’m heading up stairs- I will be back down in a few.”
“Wow... it smells amazing in here, don’t mind if I snoop around the kitchen.
I gave the usual closed-mouth grin and proceeded upstairs. The hallway light lit up my bed in the darkness. I walked in and just sat down on the bed.
You bring a boyfriend into this house?
How long have you been keeping this secret from me?
I walked over to Claire…
“Honey, you think she will be happy with the surprise?”
“Hey dad, the chicken is ready.”
My heart jumped and I swiftly looked towards the silhouette in the doorway.
“Yes hon, I-I will be down in a minute.”
“Is everything good Dad?”, she said. She could sense the desperation in my body language and I could sense the worry in the way she posed the question.
Once again my ego got the best of me...
“...Of course”, I replied.
She walked away and I heard her footsteps retreating downstairs.
The chicken laid centered inside of a glass baking dish, the gravy hugged the browned thighs and body. I walked it over to the dining table and hungry smiles gazed upon the dish as it was placed onto the table.
“Well, let’s eat.” Emma grinned.
I watched the fellow close his eyes and bite into the sweet moist white meat, I awaited his reaction.
“Wow Mr. Davis, this is amazing.”he said, “Emma mentioned you went to culinary school.”
“Yup, they taught me how to feed this hungry girl and keep her mother happy.”
Emma rolled her eyes and smirked while raising her glass for a drink.
“Um, Mr. Davis me and Emma have been dating for a while and I-I, I um wanted to know if I could have your Blessing.”
I ignored him. You're not taking my beloved Emma away from me.
“Speaking of your mother I have a surprise for you, I know things have been rough these last few years, but I want you to know she will always be with you.”
The joyful mood of the dining area became gray and eerie.
“Uh, dad did you hear Matthew?” she said.
“I-I wanna keep you and your mother closer, I feel like you being away for grad school has hurt our relationship... and now he’s trying to take you away from me. I barely see you Emma...
“Um, dad don’t worry we can discuss this another time”
I slammed my hand on the table, rattling all of the silverware
“JUST FUCKING LISTEN!... please!” I pleaded. “Y-y-you promised me you would stay close and now you have some guy in MY HOUSE asking for a blessing!”
“I’m sorry Matthew... h-he probably lost track of his meds. I-I-I don't know what’s going on.”
I scooted back and walked into the kitchen. I grabbed Claire’s urn and walked into the Dining room.
“Oh my god, dad-what are you doing?” she cried.
“You didn’t even say hi to your mother, you've changed Emma. Like I said, she is always with you.”
I gave her a smirk and glanced at the chicken on the table.
“Matthew you too get to experience my lovely Claire”. I said
“Oh my-GOD!” Emma screamed.
She began to barf uncontrollably, Matthew was in shock, his eyes gazing at the leftover chicken that lay on his plate.
I take it Emma told him her own mother is in an urn and she never says shows the decency of acknowledging her.
Matthew was in disgust, I could sense the anger boiling in his blood.
“You have to be F-FU-CKING JOKING!” he shouted.
Matthew grabbed the table knife on his plate, and threw his chair back, Emma tugged on his toned forearms, but he shifted his arm away from her desperate grab.
“Oh you wanna stab me eh, come on tough guy.” I said, “You're not a man, you're a weasel...a pathetic- weasel.”
“Let’s just leave Matthew, please.” she cried.
I reached for the remote near my hand and increased the volume of the Christmas themed music. As the fellow walked towards me, I kept the urn in my peripheral. He was within reach and with one motion I grabbed the topless urn and launched the ashes into his face. I grabbed his arm with the knife, bent it backwards and lodged it deep into his jugular, as his body struggled I looked deep into his teary hazel eyes. I could sense regret, and anguish. A good kid fell victim to his emotions. Emma rushed for the door and I grabbed her. The screams drowned out from the joyful Christmas music. I wrapped my forearm around her throat and cut off her circulation watching her slowly fall along my body.
Your not leaving me anymore
Another faithful Christmas eve, my health worsened, but my joy for this time of the year overshadowed the chronic pain. I could hear the sound of someone walking up the stairs. Someone knocked on my door…
The door creaked open and Emma walked in with a tray of breakfast sides.
“Are you going to tell me where he is, please.” she said.
I could see the hurt and urgency in her eyes, I just wish she cared about me the same way.
“I will let you know soon honey, just trust me.”
She walked out the door...closing it behind her in one motion. I grabbed the tablet by my bed side and watched the grid-like display of surveillance on various parts of the house. I could see Emma walking in and out of different camera views, until she sat down in the kitchen chair. I could tell she was bawling her heart out making me out to be a demon.
I just want to keep us... closer.