My story is nothing but death and destruction. The obliteration of everything I was and those I loved most. For years I existed. Every day I wished for my end. What I never even considered was a rise from the ash.
I’m no Phoenix.
There is no happily ever after for me, only pain until my final breath.
I took a drag from the cigarette in my hand and stared out at the dark loft apartment. It was calm and quiet, with the exception of a little bit of noise from the street below. In the bed beside me was a passed-out brunette.
I didn’t know her name. It didn’t matter anyway—I was never coming back.
Little groans signaled she was waking back up, and that I’d missed my opportunity to leave.
She reached out and found my thigh, running her hand slowly up and then down.
“Mmm, baby, you really know how to pound a pussy.”
My stomach turned. A small term of endearment that could either be the first step of clingy, or the less likely—she forgot my name.
I would prefer the latter. Makes my never seeing her again easier.
A different woman every few weeks. They were nothing more than a human fleshlight.
A tool to get off.
“I have to go,” I said as I snuffed out the cigarette.
Her hand fell from me as I stood so to locate my clothes.
“So soon? Don’t you want to go for another round first?”
“No.” Any niceties, finesse, and chivalry I had expressed when we met were gone. Exhaustion took over, and after a fuckfest, I no longer had the energy to keep up the façade.
She balked at me, mouth open and eyes wide before her anger and indignation exploded. She got up and turned the light on.
“Seriously? That’s it?”
I pulled my shirt over my head, noticing the way her eyes widened at the large scar on my left side, and I slipped my shoes on.
Fuck and run.
Don’t get close.
They’re always watching.
“Asshole!” Her shrill scream echoed through the room as she lofted the nearest item—a pillow—at me.
A quick check for my wallet, keys, and phone, and then I looked at her.
“What? Did you think we’d run off into the sunset? Get married? All because you let me fuck you?”
She stared at me, her arms crossing over her chest. “Is a date really too much to ask for?”
I stepped around the bed, stopped right in front of her, and leaned down to run my tongue across her lips.
Matter of fact.
Had to be.
Break down any inkling of more, because there could never be more again.
She cocked her hand back, but I was too far away by the time she swung.
The curses aimed at me could still be heard as I shut the door and walked the few feet to the elevator. When the doors opened, I stepped in and leaned against the far wall, her shrieks drifting away as the doors closed.
How many was it now? Who knew. I stopped counting long ago.
As the anxiety, the PTSD, spiraled out of control, so did an insatiable sex drive.
The doors opened, and I exited into the parking garage. Her hand was on my cock when we pulled in, so I couldn’t remember where I parked. It took a few minutes and a lot of clicks on my fob before the lights on my sedan blinked.
Climbing in, I pulled out my phone. It was two in the morning, and I had three missed phone calls.
Before driving off, I looked at the call list—my parents. With a sigh, I hit the button for voicemail.
“You have two unheard messages,” the automated voice said before playing the first one.
“Nate, it’s your dad.” I shook my head and let out a small chuckle. He always started out that way, like I wouldn’t recognize his voice. “Just calling to remind you Erin’s birthday is Saturday. We really hope to see you. Call me back when you get this. Love you.”
Backing up, I drove out and headed home. I’d call him back in the morning and tell him I’d go, even though I didn’t want to.
Family functions sent me into the worst panic attacks.
Maybe I wouldn’t go.
“Hi Nate, it’s Jack.” My heart stopped before picking up into a furious tempo. My hands began to shake as my second father’s voice came through the phone. “It’s been a while. You haven’t been replying to my emails.” Because I can’t. Because I have nothing to say. “I want to get together for lunch this week. I have a proposition for you. Call me… We miss you, son.”
I clenched my hands around the steering wheel to stop the vibrations, to calm myself.
After everything, he still called me son. It stung. A burning sword of guilt to the gut compared to the pride it used to evoke.
I was the man that got his only daughter killed. The man who should have died.
My body held the scars to prove it.
I drove home, contemplating what he could want, and trying to decide when to call him back. It wasn’t like my days were filled with activity. Get up, run, eat, smoke, go to the bar, fuck something or somebody, sleep—my daily routine when I could get out of bed.
For a year I’d rented a studio apartment over some stranger’s garage. Contact with anyone I knew was a minimum. Family only if I had to.
Trapped in hell.
My wife was dead. My son was dead. And I should have stayed dead with them.
I died on scene, but they revived me. Every single day since I wished they hadn’t.
Recovery from having my body torn apart was long and painful. Chronic pain was just another classified issue in my mountain of problems. The scars, the meds, the migraines, the body aches—all added up to a miserable way of being alive.
Parking in the driveway, I climbed the stairs to my tiny abode. It was just as empty as I left it. The bare necessities.
Nothing and no one else they could take away from me.
I flopped down on the bed, cringing as my scar pulled and my knee protested. Reminders that I needed to do my stretching.
And that was how I lived my life. A stark contrast to a decade ago when I had my love beside me and we were trying to make a family.
When I was happy. When I lived.
My being could not be classified as living. More like the walking dead.
Three years of not working, of existing. Of popping pills all day long to combat the symptoms of my existence.