OK

Good Lord, what an awful day.

Work was alright, though the bill comes due tomorrow. It'll be a minor miracle if I get out of there on time. Someone asked for a report first thing in the morning and like a cheerful idiot I said, yeah, sure, I can do that. Early in the week someone asked me for something that will probably take an entire day by Friday. Sure, I can do that.

It's already one in the morning and I got a good two hours of drinking and writing in front of me.

Could be worse.

A Gaza invasion, a jet probably mistaken for a military supply plane shot down with 295 civilians aboard.

Hypochondria in full rage.

Aches and pains; is it old age, or cancer?

Should go to a doctor but don't trust the lot of them after living through the debacle of Lauren's operation and everything that came after.

&&&

Maybe it's nothing.

On the other hand, I'm dragging forty-eight years of bad habits behind me. Who knows.

Maybe symptoms have come to town to narrate the end.

Sometimes I think it might be better to go sooner rather than later, miss out on the shit that's gonna hit the fan one of these days. Get some disease or other and let it eat me alive.

Then I think, can't take the coward's way out. I got kids. They already lost their mother. Gotta hang in there until the bitter end, no matte how long the odds get.

&&&

You look around at the problems, the earth melting to death, children starving in a land of plenty, and not a goddamn fucking thing being done about it, or, I suppose, nowhere near goddamn fucking enough being done about it, and you do begin to wonder if the arc of history, or at least, this arc you're destined to ride, really does bend toward justice.

It sure doesn't feel that way.

&&&

The woman behind the counter takes the six pack and the gum and gets me a pack of Marb Silver 100's.

We get to talking about the town drunk. She's hoping he doesn't come in.

When he's just kinda drunk he's alright, she says. Sweeps the parking lot for me, takes the garbage out for me.

I feel relief: alright, I think, at least I'm not (yet) known as the town drunk.

When he's too far gone, though, shit...

What?

He starts harassing the customers.

Damn, you're the only place in town open in the middle of the night. Other than the PC, and you don't wanna go over there.

Why not? she asks.

I dunno. I feel guilty as soon as I walk in there. I'm like, they all know I'm drunk, and they're gonna call the cops on me or something.

For what? she asks. There's nothing illegal about having a few beers and walking around smoking. Is there?

Technically no, I say. But it feels illegal anyway.

Ah, you're being silly.

A customer comes in looking for twenty on pump one, and I say goodnight, walk my six-pack back on home.

&&&

I don't know what it is about the 5's and the 0's.

I don't know why the hurt worse, but they do.

Doesn't make sense.

Why should 20 be worse than 16 or 19 or 21?

It shouldn't, but it is.

Twentieth anniversary of my first wedding lurks on Wednesday.

Twenty years, and it feels like a century.

I can picture it like yesterday: the feel of her raw silk dress in my hands; the warmth of the sun that day; the shock of the sight of the chimney sweep, a tradition unknown to me, approaching me with a soot-covered face, his hand out-stretched, reaching out toward mine; sitting down in the old Rolls and feeling her hand slipping into mine; arriving at Lakeside to a crowd of people; a Buck's Fizz in my left hand; one person after another shaking my hand, smiling at me; the look on her face that said, hang in there boy, you've got a pint and plate of food waiting around the next corner; a little past midnight, the rest of the crowd gone, and my brother standing there, with his arms outstretched, waiting for me.

&&&

It's been no dreams or weird dreams of late.

I like no dreams better.

The weird dreams seem a variation on a theme.

They bring Lauren back to life, but she's still in a coma, and I keep asking some invisible faces, why did they bother doing that? Why get my hopes up if she never gets any better?

&&&

Planes get shot down. Invasions proceed apace. Weird explosions in Siberia that might mean worst-nightmare team.

And I keep coming back to twenty.

And to ten.

Our tenth anniversary, we were over there.

Money was a little tight, but we had some leeway.

We went up to Lakeside, walked around with Bailey, not quite six at the time, and Evie lurking in Lauren's belly.

I walked over to the front desk and asked about renting the bridal suite.

The woman behind the counter said it would run us about four hundred dollars American.

I wanted to do it.

Lauren said we shouldn't spend the money.

We can do it for our twentieth, she said.

There wasn't any twentieth. Well, there is, it's just not the way we imagined it. She's dead and I'm four thousand miles away, fighting off memory and regret and trying, with varying success, to live in the here and now.

Planes get shot down. Invasions proceed apace. Weird explosions in Siberia that might mean worst-nightmare team.

My mind walks behind and ahead of today. I got nothing to complain about but I feel lousy. Twenty. Twenty. I reach out for the glass of beer but it's empty. I'm not sure what to do next. Keep going, I think. It's nowhere near enough, but I'm out of better ideas at the moment. It's all beyond me.

Keep going, I think.

Keep going, and maybe I'll figure it out down the road somewhere.

Originally posted to PapaChach on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 11:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Grieving Room and Community Spotlight.

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