I have nothing to say to you. Nothing but what's true, anyway.

I've been working this job for a few years now, managing the local Acorn. I've been sleeping with my assistant manager even though I have a woman at home who's taking care of my three kids. I feel no guilt. I don't feel much at all, really.

Betsy, the woman I'm sleeping with, isn't a particularly good lay, but it's more the excitement of sleeping with a woman who's supposed to work under me as well as cheating on Roz, who's dutifully been keeping my house and raising my children for over four years now.

Did I mention that they're not her children? That's what makes it all so beautiful. She does so much for me and I'm sleeping with my assistant manager.

And I feel no guilt. I know I should. I see them interact when Roz comes into the store and I see the smugness that alights on Betsy's face and I know I should feel guilty for the woman who cleans my house and cooks my meals and watches my kids, but I don't. I just don't feel anything.

When I was twenty-one I was convicted of sexual assault. I feel something about that. I feel a mild anger. I am mildly angry that I am forty-four and everyone in this town still knows about what I did over twenty years ago. They still look at me like I'm that person and like I'll steal their kids in the night. They look at me like I do that to my own kids. That makes me mildly angry, but only mildly.

That's about the only thing I can feel.


"Hey, Brad?"

It was another day at the job, another completely emotionless day. I looked up to see Arin standing in the doorway of my office, her cheerful face abnormally stern.

"Yeah?" I asked her.

"I'm going out for a smoke."

"All right. Be back in ten," I ordered as I turned back to my paperwork.

"Yeah, right," she scoffed as she skipped out the back door. Cole was right behind her, his pack of smokes and lighter in hand. I watched as he followed her like a dog, a big doofy smile on his face. He loved her. He'd loved her since she started working here. My employees didn't think I noticed these things but I did. When a person is as emotionally removed from the world as I am, they notice so much more.

I got about four seconds into my paperwork before I heard a knock on the door behind me. "Yes?" I asked again, my voice unnecessarily harsh this time. Sometimes I changed my tone just to see how people would react.

The cashier, Sam, bitchily informed me that Roz was waiting at the counter with my children. I nodded to her shortly, stood from my chair, and followed Sam out from the office and into the main part of the store. Roz and my sons were busily perusing the rack of candy that was placed next to the register and I could hear her promising to buy them each a piece of their favorite kind. I walked out from behind the counter and was greeted by all three of my boys as they ran to me, yelling, "Daddy!" I knelt to hug them and forced a smile to my face.

"Hi boys!" I said with mock enthusiasm. I hugged each of them separately before standing to greet Roz with a simple, "Hi."

"Hey baby," she replied with a slow smile. It revealed a mouth of half-rotten teeth, stained from cigarette smoke and a lifetime of heavy drinking. Her neck and face were spotted with large moles and her coarse gray hair was swept into a terribly executed pony-tail. She wore a torn tank top bespeckled with age-old stains and a pair of aquamarine shorts that rode up between the fat of her thighs.

Roz had a heart of gold, though.

I smiled at her and kissed her on the cheek, hugging my son Parker to my side. "How's your day going?"

"Good, good," she answered honestly, a genuine smile lighting on her face. "Listen, I thought maybe we could take the kids out to Mickey D's tonight and then go on over to Denison Park and let them play for a little bit." She leaned a little toward me and lowered her voice conspiratorially. "I called Annie and she said she'd watch them for us tonight so we can, well, you know." She grinned then and winked at me.

Her efforts at seduction were terrible.

"All right," I said, smiling in reply. I felt empty inside but I pushed it down, covering it with a thin veneer of determination. I didn't feel excited at the prospect of seeing my children play or at the thought of being able to sleep with Roz, uninterrupted, for the first time in weeks.

Instead, I just felt blank.