Dawn was away with the kids for the weekend and it was just me and the dog. I felt like a teenager with the house to myself except I didn’t drink anymore and couldn’t invite anyone over. I cued violent films and smoked a joint with the windows closed. Ate leftovers no one would. With everyone away I could control how the house would look for once, orderly and clean.
I stretched out like a starfish across the bed and sunk to the bottom of the sea. I was in a restaurant and a bottle of wine floated out of a menu but I mouthed the words I d o n’ t d r i n k and it disappeared. In the morning I bought a new chainsaw and cut down three trees. I did the notch and hinge on the first one so it would fall right but it fell the opposite way. I bucked and dragged the remains to the side of the sports court then took a bath.
The light comes quickly now and dwells at the end of the day. I lit a small smoky fire and sat there poking it. I cut the grass but didn’t bag the clippings and the air smelled fresh, like spring. The thrum of crickets and tree frogs again. Someone had broken into our car the night before though, so I circled the perimeter of the house and removed the hatchet from the wood cutting area as a precaution. And turned on lights I normally wouldn’t, lowered the shades, locked the doors. Kept sensing movement each time I looked out the windows but it was only my reflection.
The dog gummed the insides of her bowl and me a chipped pint glass with a pub crest stamped on the side. There was a time life was so sweet we couldn’t afford to sleep or miss any of it. We stayed up all night for the drama of it. It was like that for our kids and I wanted to feel that again, if only for one night.
The cat was in the garage all night keeping an eye on a mouse and wore a disgusted look like a mall cop. The dog was nervous with everyone gone and wouldn’t stop being a pain. I used a chop stick to dip peanut butter on the inside of a chew toy and it was almost kinky rimming the hole. She focused on that and me my video game. Don told me about dry drunks, who stop drinking but maintain the same behavior after they quit. I’d shifted over to Fortnite, advancing levels in a battle royale style game. I was up to level 79 and had played more than 500 games. All of it felt like killing time, like waiting in an airport or doctor’s lobby.
Charlotte came home on Saturday and we watched anime, ate frozen pizza. All the themes were so dark though: this one, an orphanage that’s really a human farm where they raise kids to be shipped off to demons and eaten. Charlotte had connected with the characters like they were real people. I wondered if it was a proxy for some normal human interaction she needed. And what mine was.