Entry 4: Day 7 – Strange Prophecies

I took a shot of whiskey and my fingers flew over the keyboard. The places and people rushed through my mind. I bent the places and things I have known and shrunk them down to diorama's to peer into.

I had a breakthrough. This story that I have wrestled with for 14 years has finally taken off. 6,000 words today. 8,000 words yesterday. "What if my character's father died?" I thought to myself. "This could be the impetus to drive the storyline that I have fought with to find momentum. The son of an alcoholic learns that his estranged father has died. He then embarks on a road trip with the girl of his dreams while the alcohol and poor decisions spin out of control. Perfect."

It was 4 o'clock. I knew I should start dinner, Nikki would be home from work soon.

"I can't do this anymore. I'm either so out of it from the valium that I can't function or drive, or I feel like I am going to have a panic attack. " She looked defeated, exhausted. The bills were finally getting manageable. I struggled for the words to tell her.

I excused myself and went upstairs and took a long drink of whiskey.

******************************

I heard it. Light crept in from around my eyelids. The room was dim and humid. My phone lit up and vibrated against the nightstand. I picked it up.

It was my brother. "Hi Jay, I just heard from Dad. He just found out he has cancer. He went in to the doctor because he thought he was having back problems. They did a scan and found out he has lung cancer that has metastasized. It is in his lung, spine, and liver."

I stood in front of the gas wall heater, the blue morning light spilling in through the windows. Condensation dripped down the interior glass in this old coal house attached to the house we were renovating.

"Oh, wow. Thanks for letting me know."

"Well, you can do whatever you want with that knowledge. I think I am going to try and make it up soon. If you want to ride together, we can."

"Okay, I will let you know."

The line went dead. I laid back down for a while and got up to work on tiling the tub surround. I kept the bottle of whiskey hidden behind the half wall and took out as needed to numb the thoughts.

Sufjan Stevens new album had just come out a month before. It was written about the death of his estranged mother from cancer. The refrain of one song hung in the dimly lit room. A clamp light shot down the tile with the rest of the room dark. "Everybody dies, " he sang. "Everybody dies." I leaned on the ancient window sill. I traced the scratches in the century old wood with my fingers.

I picked up my phone and went up the darkened stairs.

"Hello?"

"Hi Dad it's me, Jay."

"Hello son."

"Eric called me this morning."

"Yeah, we didn't expect this to be anything. I have been having some problems with my hands so they did an MRI. Then they did another. My insides lit up like a Christmas tree. So they are going to do a surgery on my back so I can get my hands back. Then I start treatment after that."

"Why did you never come back to us Dad? Was it the drinking? What was it?"

He exhaled. He wasn't used to me being direct with him. Our relation ship was a series of moments where we made the best of it for the sake of not ruining the moment. "I guess I just never made time for it."

The tears welled up in my eyes as I crumpled onto tile floor under the window over-looking the old graveyard. The sobs turned into fitful spasms and outright wailing.

I thought about the unfinished manuscript on the computer, the one where I killed off my own father by a heart attack. It felt like strange prophecy.