He drinks. Beer cans, bottles, a drunken stupor making his limbs clumsy and slow. His hair is too long, balding on the top. Ciggarettes, ashes all over the seats, the floor, smoke in the air. His voice is too thick, like he's sick. No, he is sick. But it's not the common cold.
The word exsits in almost every second of my life. In every action. In every thought. In every sight I see, and word I hear. It's almost like air. Or the sun. Even when you dont see it, it's there. And I guess, also like air, it's impossible to live without.
Eating. Not eating. Thrill. Herion. Meth. Crack. Perscription drugs. Smoking. Drinking. Cutting. Burning. Fighting. Sex. Lying. Attention. Pain.
It's always something. Something that sets you apart from the ones who have something else hidden in their closet. Some other skeleton, staring at them with it's hollow eyes and scraping it's bony fingers down their backs. It's like theres no honesty, in saying "Nothing." anymore.
No one is innocent.
Especially not the man sitting beside me, gripping the steering wheel loosely, staring out the windsheild-his eyes caught between here, and somewhere I've never been. Maybe he's at the bottom of the half empty bottle at my feet. A place, I promise myself for the millionth time, I'll never go.
How can you live like this? I think, staring out the window. Despite how hard I try, I can see his desperate reflection in the glass. It's like his skin is peeling away from the bones, he's suddenly aged another 10 years. It's only been two months.. His blonde hair is lank, falling out of his skinny pony tail, framing his face in whisps. His stomach baloons out in the customary Beer Belly, and his once pretty blue eyes are bloodshot and watery.
The street outside is dark, the heavy humidity showing in the drooping leaves. The windows of my house glow, a becon. It's calling to me, and I should get out of this car, walk back across the wet pavement, and lock myself inside.
I don't move.
It's hot in the car. My jeans cling to my legs and my curls feel plastered to my neck. The window is spotty and the upholstery is coming off the door. The car is a peice of shit. Maybe it's not "You are what you eat." Maybe it's "You are what you drive." I expect to feel bad for thinking that. I dont.
His breathing is deep, slow. For a second I wonder if he's fallen asleep. If he'll spend the night on the edge of our driveway. I turn my head and see that he's looking at me. It's a rather disconcerning stare, his hands tighten on the wheel, his feet brace against the pedals-and his mouth twists into an ironic smile.
It isnt a question. It's a statement, a fact. Like "It's dark." or "It's hot." He already knows. Except that I'm not mad. I'm livid. I'm devastatingly furious. I'm pissed. I'm expontnetially.. Drained.
I dont answer him, just look at him. At what he's become. I cant tell what he sees, when he returns my stare, and for a moment-I just dont care.
"I know." He says. His voice losing the rough, drunken, black humor. "I messed up again." He gestures to the bottle at my feet. He almost sounds empty. Like all he's doing is echoing back words others have said.
When I was little, he taught me that if you say a word enough times, it looses all it's meaning. Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad. I knew in that instant, that those words didn't mean anything to him. He was just repeating back words that had lost their meaning.
Like "I'm not gonna do it anymore." and "I swear I'm going sober." Or "It's gonna be a better life from now on." They were just words.
Something shifted in me then, and suddenly I wasnt just looking at him. I was searching, through the bristly beard, and the sagging skin under his eyes. Past the stained shirt and the dirty hair, looking for even one shred of the man I once knew. His blue eyes crinkled in confusion, and he rubbed his hand against his haggard face.
A long time ago, back when I was a little girl with gap teeth, and strawberry curls-this man had been a superhero. He'd been my superhero. Always taking me to mystical places, like the Maritime, and Lake Compounce. It was all movies, and watching thunder storms, and swimming, and lunch meat for dinner. It was too many toys to keep in one room, and jewlery that sparkled especially bright to a little girl. Back then, my dad was gifts and warm hugs, and tickle time. He was handsome, and strong, and my favorite person on earth.
"Why wont you say anything?" I drew a deep breath, tasting the smoke in the air-smelling the beer that was seeping into the rug on the floor. My hands gripped the crunchy, gritty, seat-and I closed my eyes.
The man I once called my father had gone missing when I was seven. He took me to a park, and slipped away in his sleep, and someone very different woke up to take a ride in the police cruiser. A man who wasnt a superhero. He was tired. He was old. He was the very embodiment of the word "Addiction."
Opening my eyes, I grabbed the door handle and flung open the door. The clean air washed over my bare feet as I swung them out onto the pavement. "So that's it?" He asked behind me. I didnt look at him as I reached down and grabbed the bottle by the neck. "What are you doing?" Standing, I turned my head back to him. My mouth pressed in a tight, unforgiving line.
For years, I'd been waiting for my dad to come back. For him to call, just to say "I love you." I was waiting for a man with laughing blue eyes, and strong arms that carried me when I got tired. For a man who loved to hike, and talked about his life like it was all a fairy tale. I'd waited for 9 years.
I was done waiting.
I threw the bottle down with all the force I had. All my strength went into the green glass as it crashed into the cracked black pavement that was my driveway.
The sound was deafaning. Like it wasnt just the bottle breaking, it was every bone in my body-it was the very ground beneath my feet too. The shattered glass reflected the light from the windows, and to my dizzy mind it looked like a thousand glittering stars had fallen at my feet.
"Yeah." I said. "That's it."
I could hear him cursing as I stepped over the broken glass, and walked back up to my house. The concrete steps were slippery with wet grass, and I almost fell. But something inside me took over, when I heard him yank the door closed, and roar off down the road. It was like a phantom strength filled my limbs and dragged me up the porch steps, and into the house. Like someone else was pulling the strings, because I was too weak to go on.
When the door shut behind me, I slid down the slick wooden surface until I could feel the entry mat beneath me. Wrapping my arms around my legs, I drew them to my chest. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think.
He was gone. My dad, was so mad. For all those years, I'd just let him get away with it. With being late, and forgetting things. With making me be the adult. With being left behind. But tonight, seeing that bottle-it had broken something deep inside me. And I wasn't watching him anymore.
Maybe I cant stop you from destroying yourself, but I certianly dont have to watch you do it.