Life Happening

Somewhere a man clicks through rejections while assuring his family that things will be OK. He spends his time over coffee getting his unemployment done for another week and wonders when it will stop.

A woman steps off the curb and just misses the cracks below her feet. A blackbird stops chirping just as the garbage truck stops for another pick up. A child is pulled behind a fence slamming the gate into more silence.

We were told not to leave today or the next day or even the next week. We were told to shelter in place. We were told it was pandemic time. Time to sweep over the land where people die, or get sick, protest, or riot.

It is hard to breathe. My reflection is aging. I can’t swallow. I am white.

Johnny began screaming from his crib right at midnight. Linda had just finished the dishes and poured a glass of wine to unwind and look at the news to see what day it is. I went to him.

Pressures from the outside were closing in, becoming heavy. Simple daily tasks could count the steps into averages to squeeze just a little more time. There is an energy present that carries a lot of weight like depression.

Shame for being.

The spider’s web now spans across all of the rafters. Maybe a commune. A ship has slowly entered into view, having floated the first set of locks. Cabbage moths are the new enemy in this isolated state.

Drunken Discourse

“How is it that you can be such a loser?” Her breath is a hot stench of rotten yeast that permeates from her pores like sweaty shit. 

“I am not a loser.”  He says quietly in simple terms as he cycles his thoughts for different words, hoping to diffuse any prolonged onslaught. 

“Oh really?” She says disdainfully. 

“Yeah really, I am not a loser. I have not made the best decisions always, but that does not make me a loser.” 

“Nothing you do works out. You have put the kids and I through hell. We deserve better.” 

“I understand.” 

“God I could do much better! What the fuck am I thinking? You are such a piece of shit!” She rolls over in confrontation, becoming louder and more volatile. 

“That is not necessary and please lower your voice – I do not want the kids to hear this.” 

“Oh as if they are not already aware of it? Are you delusional? Do you think the kids are happy? You are so self absorbed that you do not even see it.  It is over for you – you had your chance.” 

“What are you talking about?” He says on the last comment in hopes that she does not drag the subject of the kids into this, which is unlikely since they can be used like daggers to stab guilt and shame. 

“What are you talking about? Are you delusional? We have nothing! You are 40 YEARS OLD and you have nothing to show for it! What are you going to do – run back to your mommy? She doesn’t want anything to do with you! Nobody does! Where does that leave the kids and I? What do they have to look forward to?” 

He becomes tangled in the spin and feels his frustration burning into anger and takes a deep breath and says nothing. In this moment he realizes that she is changed and is lost to the alcohol that continues to rage and boil out of her pores with antagonism. 

“Are you gonna answer me? You can’t can you – you have nothing to say? Are you stupid?” She knows the buttons to push and keeps working and twisting them in deeper. 

“What do you want me to say? You are right – I have made some bad decisions but I am not without hope. I do not see things in the same way as you and I believe things will work out fine. But if all the kids hear is how shitty things are then they will relate themselves to only that – it is not about money here – it is about how we live our life and the message we convey.” 

“Oh so we can just will it away and pretend to be happy – meanwhile we find ourselves living on the streets?” 

“No body is going to live on the streets! What the hell is your problem?” He takes an offensive as logic and perspective finally start to catch up with this round of drunken discourse. “Believe me, I wish some things would have worked out differently, but it does not mean that we have to live in a hopeless bubble.” 

“Oh so what are you going to do?” 

“Well it would be great if your question was what are ‘WE” going to do, but whatever. The fact is I am making really good money right now and going to school. I can’t do anything about the creditors though and need to try and get bankruptcy filed. That will put us on a clean slate and eventually we can save and move on and maybe buy a house and make some investments and work with the kids on their education and – shit I don’t know – whatever life is at that point. I can’t map out a life of guarantees – who really knows what next year will be like? This whole system could crash and everybody could be out of work – but there are alternatives.” 

“Oh – so now you are absolved. You cannot do anything wrong and do not have to take any responsibility because you have an excuse for everything.” 

“Are you kidding? I live with and am reminded everyday why I should feel guilt and I am trying really hard to forgive myself for bad decisions that I have made. Of course, I wonder if things would have worked differently had there been an ounce of support from my wife. But whatever, I had to try. I could not live knowing that I did not even try.” 

“You lost our house!” 

“Ok. I did not want to go there – but let me tell you something!” Old memories boil to the surface and the pain and anger that he had tried to let go of has once again been pressed. “I was looking for work! I came home and discovered that you were fucking other people and partying with your friends! I told you at that time that our marriage was over as we know it! That is why I sold the house. It was at that time I realized that I had to do for myself and embrace my dreams and try to move past this. You cheated on me! And you call me delusional! No! Life is much more than a house or a car or other material possessions. Those things are nice and can be achieved – but not like this.” 

“So it is all my fault now! It is always my fault! I knew you were going to turn it around on me – you always do that to me! I hate you! I do not trust you and never want you to touch me again. Just stay away from me and leave me alone.” She rolls away from him – rejecting him and shuts down – resigning to drunken slurs and mumbles. 

“I am not saying it is your fault. We all make decisions. I was really hurt – that’s all. It does not mean that I don’t wish I would have reacted differently in hindsight. But you know the important thing is that we talk about these things and learn forgiveness. That is key and one of the best examples we can set for the kids. That’s why I said before, no matter the circumstances, we can give the kids a great life regardless of how wealthy or poor we are. It is a matter of values and I am and have always been a hopeful man. Things come and go – the world is always changing and wealth flows in just as quickly as it flows out – but we have to work together.” He softens at this point glad that she has backed down and prays that she understands him on some level. 

“It is my fault and now my children are going to die. Do you think you are going to the paradise?” 

He softens his voice and whispers. “You know that I do not believe in exactly the same terms. I do pray daily and am confident in my relationship with GOD. But I do not totally think of it in the same terms.” 

“You know we have already killed our children! We will not be resurrected. What about when this system is destroyed? What about when the torture starts? What will you do then when you have to make a decision to denounce your faith or lose your son? Are you ready to watch your children be slaughtered? It says right in the bible that the children of non-believers will also perish.” 

“I do have faith and an understanding, I simply do not think of it in the same terms. Besides, I am not worried that the children and I will be faced with torture. The only torture I see is what you are doing to yourself with alcohol.” He knew that last comment stung. 

“Fuck you!” 

“Well.. what? Am I supposed to just ignore it? Do you think that we all should just ignore it? And you call me delusional? Sorry if I am not totally accommodating to your tirades. I love you deeply and always have and committed to go through life for good or bad – but this is fucking ridiculous. I have compromised many things that I believe important – like holidays and other traditions – in order to find some middle ground to have a life with you, but to get cornered into hopelessness and misery and fear that our lives are constantly at stake and that death and torture are eminent and that Jehovah GOD is going to destroy us is over the top.” He realizes that his voice is starting to boom and retreats to take a deep breath. 

“You do not know what you are talking about. You never go to meetings with us. We have nothing in common and you have NEVER supported me.” She emphasizes ‘NEVER’ and is resigned and steeped in her own self loathing and drunken depression. 

“Are you kidding? I have studied with witnesses over the years. I do go to meetings – maybe not all the time – but I do go. There are people in the kingdom hall that I care about very much. But I do not think in the same terms and our children will not be raised to believe in something out of fear! How can Jehovah be a loving GOD that teaches FOREGIVENESS only to come down and DESTROY the children because I do not see things in the exact terms of what MEN have told me to believe based on THEIR interpretation of what my faith should be?” 

“Go to meeting and read the bible! I cannot explain every detail of it – these men have studied the bible their entire lives and are chosen. We are going to die.” Her voice trails off into mutters and quiet tainted whispers. 

“Someday, perhaps. This is why we need to keep things in the moment and try to celebrate life everyday. There are very important things that the children can learn from us – but fear and hopelessness are not in the line up and I will continue to do everything I can to teach them about love and kindness and respect for others and hopefully they will be true to their inner voice and make the right decisions for their lives.” 

“I will never trust you. I hate you with every ounce of my being.” It is all that could be heard as her slurs lashed out with a final stab. 

“Maybe you should move then. Maybe you just need to leave and the kids and I will move on because this is not working and I do not want to live this way and do not want the kids living with fear and hopelessness.” He felt empathy and a pang of uncertainty because he truly felt a love for his wife but knew that an end was eminent if the bottle was to continue to taint the relationship and distort reality. Sun break was only a few hours off and he could hear her snoring. He could smell the sweaty alcohol slowly leaving her body. He thought he needed to quit smoking in that moment and needed to lift weights or something physical to be stronger so he could endure another session on some other unforeseen day. He thought about taking the kids and leaving her behind.  What would be her fate? Where would she go and who would she meet? She would be promiscuous, he was sure. Too often on other occasions she had told him in her drunk talk of other men that she wanted. She was always so vivid in her description of her desires. In a weird way it made him want to save her and he knew that was a big part of the problem – they both knew it. In other ways, he wanted to prove himself, but those feelings were more like backwash that only made him cringe and confirm that one day he would leave. But for now, he held on tight to hope and told himself that he loved her and married her for better or worse. The only question that finally went to sleep was how to share his love with her bottle and expect nothing.