John stood still at the door.
His abundant black hair twisted up from his head, a hairstyle somewhat reminiscent of Johnny Bravo.
"What do you want?" Parker asked.
John didn't speak. His thin lips formed an even thinner line as he pressed them together. His pale eyes stared condescendingly ahead, brow furrowed.
Parker couldn't bear it; being looked at that way by his own son.
"What do you want from me?"
He squeezed his fingers tightly into his hair, black like his son's. His eyes managed to escape John's hold, and burned as he hung his head with a quiet sob.
John exhaled, loudly; an odd thing for him to do. Perhaps it was just a sigh, or the sound of a sigh; made to catch his father's attention.
And it did.
Parker scowled; he had had enough. He leapt from his bed and stormed to the door, slamming it shut right in John's face. He tiredly made his way back to his bed, collapsing gently into its soft hug. He barely managed to summon the energy to pull the covers over his head—a habit he had only recently picked up. All he wanted to do was sleep…perhaps for the rest of his life.
"You didn't save me, dad."
John's voice seemed to bounce off the walls, building momentum off each rebound. Parker tried pulling the covers tighter, but it didn't help. With a sudden swoosh he ripped them away, eyes widening as he saw John standing at his bed foot.
The lights flicked on…
It was everywhere. The sheets, his pillow, his forehead, his chest…all covered in sweat. For him, it was becoming cliché; waking up in the middle of the night to that recurring nightmare.
You didn't save me dad.
His therapist told him that his nightmares were just a manifestation of his guilt. That they would go away in time. But instead of going away, John just kept coming back, even more in the past few days. And when he came he always said the same words.
You didn't save me dad.
And then Parker would wake up…
He always had that feeling that his dream wasn't really so; only that he'd fallen asleep shortly after. And he always laughed at himself, softly.
"You're losing your mind," he said as he climbed out of bed.
Perhaps he was. How else then would it be possible for his dead son to keep appearing, since he felt so strongly that it wasn't a dream? He threw back the covers completely, his limbs shaking as he climbed out of bed and made for the bathroom, as always.
A hot shower worked to wake him completely. His brown eyes no longer drooped tiredly; at least for now. Once out of the shower he dried off, and something to his right caught his eye.
It was the mirror. He moved closer to his reflection, intrigued by something that never quite caught his attention until a few weeks before, until their noses were just an inch apart. He was degrading. He used to be a handsome man; with a clean face and a charming smile. Now, all he ever did was frown, and he grew thick stubble to hide his furrowed face.
He squinted for a second as he thought he saw another face within his reflection: John's. They looked so alike that he couldn't really tell, but he could almost hear his voice.
"You didn't save me dad." It said.
John was coming back again. "Go away." He growled.
And the voice was gone.
He stared himself down in the mirror, looking for that other face, like a crazy man. Nothing.
He snapped away, moving briskly through the bathroom door and into his bedroom. He looked around at the cozy little mess he had made of it. It was a mess because his wife no longer kept it clean; she couldn't. Even so, he preferred the filth, as the wise eye would easily see how it strategically covered her things. Those things that he couldn't bear to look at.
From the mess he pulled a shirt and some trousers…his day's attire. He dressed just as quickly, throwing his towel down so that it was where the clothes had been. He was just about ready to leave the room when he spotted something odd on his bed.
John's mp3 player.
Perhaps it wasn't so odd anymore, as it was when it first started to happen. He probably should have expected to meet it there by now, because every morning after his shower, he would. He forced himself not to cry; he wasn't weak. Even still, his throat dried up and his eyes burned. He could never understand how it got there and that frustrated him.
He snatched it up and stormed into the dark hallway, slamming the door shut behind him. Once outside, he leaned against the wall, his eyes dancing around in the dark as they tried to adjust. Was he losing it?
He then slowly went down the hall, stopping at Shirley's door. He waited for a few seconds, not sure what for, before he opened it and peered inside. She was fast asleep; contently void of what tormented him. He withdrew and shut the door gently. He lingered there for a while, groping the device in his hand, half afraid to turn to the room across the hall.
Eventually he did. He turned the doorknob and felt its chill surge through his body. As he pushed the door open, he half expected to see something waiting inside, but there was nothing. Without hesitation, he rested the player on John's mantelpiece and then quickly exited the room, filled with a rush he couldn't quite explain. For another few seconds, he gathered himself.
It was four-thirty. He noticed this as he went down the stairs and flicked the light on, making it his business to glance at the clock. He wouldn't have to worry about his six year old daughter for another few hours, and he knew exactly how to pass the time. He walked over to the liquor cabinet, plunging his arm all the way to the back for the vodka. He gave himself a preview of the fix before taking out a glass, but the bottle left his grip before he could pour.
He managed to ignore that crashing sound that was the bottle losing its battle with the floor, his eyes…attention remained focused on the window. There was someone standing by it, on the inside, and staring out.
"What are you doing inside my house?" He asked. Somehow he knew the question was somewhat stupid. Somehow he knew that this was not any old ordinary man. After all, he had just passed that window on the way downstairs and there was nobody there.
Was it John? The hair was all wrong and John was definitely sh—
Within a second he wished it was John, as the man turned around and his face became clearly visible. Parker did not know who he was, but he didn't have to, to know that he was afraid. There was a gaping hole where the man's right eye should have been, crusted with blood and stopped with flesh.
His voice was hoarse, soaked only in desperation.
"What the f—"
Parker's head turned to the top of the stairs, his heart keeping a furious rhythm.
"What's all that noise?" Shirley rubbed her eyes and peered over the balcony.
Parker glanced to the window. The man was gone.
"Nothing sweetie," he panted, and then stared at the broken vodka bottle on the floor. "Just had a little accident."
"Daddy please don't drink anymore."
Parker wondered if Shirley even understood the significance of what she'd asked of him. She just said it in a normal, perfectly content tone, with a normal, perfectly content expression. Then again, she was always like that.
Parker nodded with a smile. "I won't," he lied. He waited until she went away from the balcony to start picking up the pieces of glass on the floor. "Today."