Alone at Once

December 12, 2017 by Patrick Starks

DRAWING 12.16.17

Wow, what can I say, today has been a pretty good day. I finally got that big promotion from work, finally got the chance to attend my little girl’s ballet recital, for once, and finally got around to cooking and cleaning right before the misses got home. Yup, today was a good day, but then Saturday came. 

10:00 am: Saturday Morning

After a day of what felt to be perfection, I figured the next day, if not the rest of the week would be just the same. I slid out of an empty bed. Thought the misses would have still been in it, but of course, she wasn’t. I found it odd for the wifey to be up so early on a Saturday, but I figured she was just down stairs cooking a nice breakfast, or something. Although, there was nothing in the air that gave me the sense that she was—no bacon, no eggs, no pancakes—not one smell of a perfectly balanced breakfast did my nose pick up.

The floor was cold, as well was my body. Pulling the blanket from the bed, I wrapped myself up just like the burritos we ate from the night before. Out of the bed and on my way towards the bathroom I went. I turned the shower on, then turned to the toilet, and looked up towards the ceiling while I took a piss to the rhythm of waterfalls. Just before I finished, I realized just how empty the bathroom appeared than the night before. No longer two toothbrushes, but one. No Pantene shampoo, only Axe. I hesitantly stepped in and out of the shower, becoming indecisive of what to do next. I needed to make sure that everyone was okay. So, this time I wrapped the lower half of myself like a burrito, and made my way out of the room and down the hallway.

My feet were no longer cold. The rubber ducky slippers that I wore barely fit, but I still wore them anyways—a warming gift from the misses and the little one, last Christmas.

Out of all that was going that morning, the hallway was at least something I would bare normality to, but what happen next dismissed all hope of that. The little one’s door was wide open, and not one sound of sesame street, or Mr. Rogers Neighborhood played in the background.  I peeked, and just like my bedroom—the little one’s was empty as well.  All her toys, all her trophies from ballet, all her adorable drawings of mommy and daddy—now all gone. My heart pounded as fast as two red bulls would give me in a day, only this time I really felt like I was going to die, or grow wings. I ran back to the downstairs to the kitchen and dialed the misses. Not one ring was given—it was out of service. I did not want to believe that she was avoiding me, but anything at this point was possible. So, I dialed the misses again, but this time with my business phone. The phone began to ring, and I waited stressfully for pick up.

“Hello, this is Cynthia.” My heart dropped. I had not a clue what to say next. She blocked my number, she really blocked me, yet, I still denied the truth of that.
“H-h-hey honey, what’s going on. I-I got up this morning, and you and the little…”  The phone hung up. I felt it was just a connection problem, we were using sprint after all, however, I knew that that wasn’t the case—I called three times after that—three times out of service.

I took a walk of shame back up to my room, and took what now became a cold shower as it continued to poor. My body shivered and my teeth chattered. All I could think about was my sweet little girl, how I would never get to see her angelic smile again, or how I would never again feel the warmth of her mother beside me.

My shower of depression went on in repeat becoming coming colder through the cycles that continued—I was frozen, but my mind, my heart was not. I somehow ended up in the car, and clothed, shockingly. I sat, and I sat, while the radio commentator rambled on with others about their scandals, their affairs—negative thoughts I avoided to assume of Cynthia.

I just needed to drive, and so I did. Like my house, the neighborhood to was empty, and for a moment, I was willing to just drive myself right off the road, as I coasted down a pothole infested street—wouldn’t have been difficult, I thought. But before I committed to doing so, I called a good friend of mine, someone I knew I could count on in my depressing time of need.

“Hello, this is Nick. Best photographer in the game, you know the name, so come take a pick with old saint Nick, there ain’t nothing in this business that I can’t fix.” Part of me wanted to burst out with laughter. Just what the hell did he just say.

“Hey Nick, what’s up man, it’s Chris. You have anything planned for today bro, I could really use some guy time.”

There was slight pause, but immediate reaction afterwards.

“S-s-sure man, whatever you need. You want to just meet at the Blue Moon Tavern? There will be happy hour.”

“Yeah that works for me. See you in thirty?”

“Yup, see you in thirty bro.”

12:45pm Happy Hour/ Blue Moon Tavern

Me and Nick met at the best bar in town. The best blue moons money can buy, with the finest sliced tangerines. Some would have called it a little rugged, or ghetto, but to us it was the perfect man cave. We laughed, we played a few rounds of pool, becoming tipsy by the hour climbing on and falling off our stools. The bourbon hit us a lot harder than usual, like a punch from Mayweather, as the drink was called. As me much as we felt we were, we weren’t in our twenties any more.

Only half an hour in, and I cried like a new born stripped from the warmth of its mother. Tears were never allowed in the man cave, but for my reasons I did not care. The rest of the men in the bar looked at me funny, shaking their heads, some even giggled in the background.

“Shit man, you okay. What’s going on?” Nick whispered.

“Everything man, fucking everything. Things were perfect the other day, and now things have just gone tits up. I woke up this morning, and Cynthia and Ruby were gone.”

“I’m sure they will be back. They must have just gone to the store or something, you know.”

“No man! Everything was gone! Cynthia’s toothbrush, shampoo, the little one’s toys, all gone! I’m a good husband, I’m a good father, right?”

“Y-Y-Yeah man. Of course! Relax, look I-I’m sorry, but…”

“But what…” Snot was rubbed on my wrist, onto my thigh, and my tears became dry.

“Happy Birthday shithead!” A roar of people then came bursting from out of the shadows of the room, from underneath tables, and out of the bathrooms.

“Happy birthday sweetheart!” A wet pair apple cinnamon lips pressed against mine, and little arms coiled around my right leg like an anaconda.”

“C-C-Cynthia! Ruby! my sweet little Ruby.”

“You forgot didn’t you. I knew you would.” Cynthia said, rolling her eyes with a blush.  I totally had forgotten, it was my birthday. Although, there was still something that just didn’t add up.

“B-B-But why was your toothbrush and shampoo gone? Why was Ruby’s toys gone?”

“Oh, that. I needed a new tooth brush, I bought the wrong shampoo and brought Ruby’s toys to play with while I went to store to return the shampoo and buy a new toothbrush; plus, we had to prep for your party dinosaur, and leaving Ruby home with you would have been a complete catastrophe and you know it. Nick called and told me you were freaking out.” I was speechless, I felt so stupid, how could I have thought so negative of my wife, my child.

“B-But the trophies, the ballet…” Cynthia stopped me right there.

“Honey, I love you and so does Ruby, we will never leave your side that I can promise you, don’t ever think that we will, okay, or else.” Cynthia tugged on my right cheek, as two little arms continued to grip onto me even tighter.

Tears poured down my face once more, with my arms once again being embraced by the love of my family. On that day, I learned two valuable lesson—never jump into conclusion about anything in life, trust that where you are is fine and will only continue to get better; you can go as high as you want, but there is very little you can fall.

And the second lesson—never forget your fucking birthday.

Thanks again for the birthday party guys. Love you all! Now, let’s not just stand around here sobbing, grab me and the misses a drink, and for little Ruby the finest orange juice deserving to a little princess.

NOTE TO SELF: 

On that day I realized not to assume, my life was flower, and surely to bloom. Why these negative thoughts consumed my mind, hell if I know, one thing is for certain—that its got to be a crime. My wife, my daughter, were all I had, losing them would be enough to make a mad man, mad. And once all assumption in my mind was erased, in this life I would never have thought there would be a sweeter, an even richer taste.

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