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It Was Only Today

It began as most every other day begins – opening the door just before, or exactly on the stroke of midnight. He could always tell the time because the clanging bells from an old church gonged faithfully, and steadily each hour. This time, there were three gongs left as he locked the door behind himself.

A chill escaped from the region of his lower neck through his upper back that caused him to shiver ever so slightly as he took off his coat and hung it up. It was the date, he knew. That date had come again.

Rich in self-loathing, he muttered an “Oh God” and drew on a freshly lit cigarette while he stared down at the empty street. He thought of the semi-celebratory opening of a beer, but was tired enough to deny the impulse. Standing in the shadows and grappling with a bout of ennui were to be the circumstances of the moment. He knew that today would not be unlike many of those days in the past. The past that alarmingly seemed to be distancing itself from his memories.

The church bells had gonged one AM before he realized how long he had been staring at the night zenith and mulling out of focus, listless in his stance with his broad shoulders drooping.

Sleep was alternatively deep and on occasion, frustratingly light – waking for no reason and without even a remnant of a dream sequence that might have caused him to awaken so sharply. Bright early morning came with the reminder that because he hadn’t slept his normal and consecutive hours in a row, he would probably take a late afternoon nap. A reminder that the date was just another to later tear off of the daily word of the day calendar.

Moments came that would bring capricious bouts of apartment cleaning spasms, but flickered and were extinguished within minutes. A brief, forced march to the outside world and through a local park had made him shower, dress and reintroduce himself to the warm sun above. The white noise of the busy city washed his brittle thoughts, and people watching as he sat on an empty bench handed him distraction.

The bells of the church gonged twelve times, each stroke deeply resonant and uniform with the last and the one after. The day was moving forward and already half had been lost forever.

“Is this how alcoholics begin?”, he wondered as he sipped on a long-necked beer back at his kitchen table. The growling that had begun as a plea had now grown to a snarl and he peered into the freezer for a morsel of microwaveable late afternoon snack. None called him to attention so he grabbed the closest package, heated it and gobbled even as it sometimes burned his mouth causing him to suck in air sharply to cool it off quickly.

Even more frighteningly than spending the day alone was the thought that if the opportunity presented itself, he was comfortably within the frame of mind that he would politely refuse. It would have seemed forced and would have come out of pity. The invisible barrier between his determination to make it alone and the unsettling shouting of loneliness had eroded to gel thin. What he wanted did not coincide with what he needed.

Six in total were the distinct reverberations of the gong. That meant six in total left. Six more to mark in sequence before it ended, lost to waves of eternity.

The inevitable call came later. First on the line sounded upbeat and he could almost touch his smile through the voice box. Second came, and with some enthusiasm expressed happy thoughts of love. Third spoke and uttered in teenaged monotone. It always happened the same way during this act: he asked more questions in order to keep the conversation flowing then they did, he always told them what a wonderful day it had been and that no, of course not, there’s more planned for later. “I Love You” to each having been dispensed, the line was vacated once more.

Inspiration to venture out once more was doused. Enthusiasm was strained from the nakedness of the phone call. It would have been a sham to drive somewhere random, find a seat at the bar, order a beer, have a small meal and smile. He felt that his thoughts would have been on display as if continually flashing on a rolling, red-lettered neon billboard circling above his head. Better to lazily lounge in the environment in which he was at ease with. One that knew the widening boundaries of his frustration and self-pity. One that knew with certain clarity what was stealthily bubbling up ever so incrementally and would be erupting soon enough.

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It’s just the sound of my heart breaking – ship to shore.

I don’t even know how to start.

I just know that I’m not happy at all with the way that it’s become up to now. Life’s obstacles seem to make it a point to cluster all around me and I’m at a time and place where I’m even sometimes reluctant to step forward.

Spiritually, I’m in a constant battle with God to help me. I alternately lose faith, have read so much of the self-help books that I’m always confused about the line between helping myself and leaving it in God’s hands.

Physically, I’m in a constant battle also. I quit smoking for the last three weeks, but because of what’s happened to me in the last few days, I bought a pack today and yesterday. So ashamed of that.

I’m so fundamentally frustrated with my lack of formal education! I am enrolled for the Spring semester and am looking forward to that, but at my age when I finally get my degree, will it make a huge difference? I’m also looking at two more years after that in order to get my Bachelors.

My oldest, at fifteen, had taken a stand that it’s not worth it to come see me anymore. He feels that all we do is fight. I admit, that a lot of it has to do with his age, but I so desperately need to see him! I feel unloved by him – my greatest accomplishment and now, my most bitter disappointment.

I am so lonely! Long days without a reason to come home to. Home, for me, is not a single bed apartment with white walls and a television on for company. So lonely.

For the first time in years, I went to church. I asked God if he would recognize me. I did the rosary for the first time in years and could barely hold back brimming tears. I would steal glances of parents and their children – a remember sadly the way it was for me not too long ago. The crush of what was there, and now gone, was almost a physical weight on my shoulders and chest and again would cause me to well up. I felt so guilty with my tears and with the thoughts I’m holding that staring at the floor was the what I did for most of the Mass.

I have an issue at work that is coming to a head this week. Until they call me back from a suspension, I’m unsure if I have a job waiting for me at all.

I really struggled with the idea of putting this online. Will writing help me to sort it out? Who the heck, except for me, would read it? Even someone stumbling here would not see a value and quickly move on.

Where is anyone?

S.O.S. by Tim Curry

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