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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Monday, 31 January 2011 18:34


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I can’t feel a thing, but I know I’ve hurt myself.

The door slams on my head again, and this time it drops me to the floor. I can barely feel it. My head rests halfway out in the hallway and smell Ethiopian food from 3b down the hall.

It’s funny, the things you think of when faced with the sudden, immediate pain.

Do college grades really have an impact on your career?

Did I change my underwear today? Or was that yesterday?

Does it even matter that it’s Valentine’s Day?

Once, I met the old woman in 3b. She wears a yellow head-wrap the color of wilting daffodils, the kind that grow real close to the grass and dry up in the sun. Her grandson, who couldn’t be more than four, is always hiding behind her dress.

I had a teddy bear when I was a kid called Blue Bear and Blue Bear used to spend every night with his head wedged between my knees as I slept, his fluffy rear end serving as a pillow. He was my closest friend when I was a kid and was bouncing back and forth between parents every year. I think now he’s in a box in a storage unit back home, abandoned and alone. It’s not important.

Such is life.

I do my best to pull the door shut again with the tips of my fingers from the floor, but I lack any real resolve. I just end up with the bottom of the door gently holding my head to the frame. It is strangely comforting.
My phone is ringing in the next room. I’m sure it’s her. I can’t handle that right now.


She’s probably calling to tell me it’s all over. She wouldn’t let me go with her, said it would be too much to handle if I was there. I wanted to be there. I mean, I didn’t want to be there, it wasn’t my idea. I needed to be there.

Step 9. Make direct amends to someone you hurt.

I sit up and close the door the rest of the way before leaning back against it. My teeth are vibrating and my face feels bruised.

The cigarettes are a few feet further than I’m willing to put effort towards, but my lighter is close enough to my foot to pull it over. I strike the flint a few times and watch the flame burn.

Fire’s a funny thing too, solid and gas at the same time. I wish I remembered anything about physics from school. There’s got to be a name for that, the solid/gas thing. The reds and yellows and blues feeding into each other. It’s pretty huge when you think about it.

Step 2. I have come to believe in a power greater than myself.

The metal casing around the Bic now softly glows orange from the flame’s direct contact. I hover above my wrist but stop to think about it. I’ve never left marks before; this would be a pretty big step. One I couldn’t take back.


I place the lighter directly against my wrist and burn the robotic happy face, with its gear work eyes into my flesh. It smokes, giving the air an ozone and burnt hair smell. I hold it on tight. My tongue between my teeth bleeds droplets of molten copper into my mouth. It has to be the first thing I’ve tasted in 137 days.

In all honesty, I’m a little shocked. Four months might as well be four years. Everything is so quiet since she left. Time isn’t so much sand in an hour glass as it is oil leaking from the bottom of your car onto the pavement. It pools and stains slow-thick and bogged, never really disappearing.

She said it wasn’t the booze; it was the settling she couldn’t handle. She was too young to be married.

God grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change.

The phone rings again and I don’t move. I just listen to the repetition fracture the silence of the empty apartment. She’d taken most of the furniture with her and all of the rugs so the sound dances across the hardwood floors. It feels astonishingly alien. I hear her voice on the answering machine. My breathe holds.

“Shawn? Look, I. I’m at the hospital. Walter’s here. I don’t need you to come or anything… just, look, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Ok? It’s done. It’s all over. I lost her. It’s -- ”

Her. She’s still talking, but I can’t listen any more. I always wanted a little girl, I just don’t think I ever realized until this moment. My heart drops into my stomach and I dry heave so hard it pulls me to all fours. It’s funny the things you think of when hit with sudden, immediate pain.

I bet Walter drives a Prius, officious motherfucker.

I don’t think I have trouble feeling anymore.

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 March 2012 17:49
Mckay Williams

Mckay Williams is an Oakland, Calfornia based short story author, play-wright and novelist. He is currently work-shopping his second novel: Hubris

You can visit him at mckaywilliams.com or on Facebook at Mckay York Williams.

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