ticking

(this is a work of fiction)

Getting too old for these crazy things.

Polishing off a bottle of wine at 10:14 pm, well after the kids have gone to bed.

Too locked into the norm to believe I can write with the best of them—Stephen King, Margaret Attwood, the writers for Ozark.

But I have time left.

It is ticking.

I hear it sometimes over the ringing and clicking and voices, as I waver between the now I’m dissatisfied with and the tomorrow I want. Well aware of the colossal mistakes I’ve made.

Ignorance. Stupidity. Hatred. Foolishness.

Simply being unaware of the power we hold and should honor as living things.

I’ve written lots of stories.

A few poems.

And I have plenty of journal entries that will need to be burned before they are read by anybody but my wife and my kids.

They already know how flawed I am.

Mood swings.

A tendency to drift off from the moment.

“It’s like you’re never really here,” my wife said to me one night.

We were eating dinner and having drinks at The Courtyard.

I had been out of the hospital about a week. We had some extra money—somehow, I managed to save—and so, we were celebrating. I was alive. I wasn’t in jail. And now that I had come back from the dead, I was seeing things.

It started with the all-too-familiar feeling of somebody over my shoulder, watching me.

Then it escalated.

I was seeing bits and pieces. Moments of lives that weren’t mine. The woman in front of me in the checkout line at Walmart. Her husband dead, but right there beside her, encouraging her not to buy the brisket. He’d eaten too much meat. Year after year after year. And now, because of an exploded heart, he was dead.

It moved on to others.

The girl working at Dairy Queen making cones and sundaes and Blizzards, all while her Grandma that died of throat cancer stood beside her.

Coworkers at the coffee pot. Their dead relatives hovering.

And family…oh, the family.

But oddly enough, the people closest to me didn’t want to hear.

Except my wife.

She wanted to know everything.

And so, I told her.

Every time I sensed a something, I shared it. But the more a person entertains certain thoughts, the more those thoughts come alive.

They begin to kick and scream. They want to be seen.

Heard.

Understood.

And when a man is expected to understand the more of everything that waits patiently below the surface, he begins to realize…

He’s too old for crazy things.

Like wine at 10:38 pm. Well after his wife and kids have gone to bed, and he is certain he’ll never be able to write with the best of them because there isn’t much time left.

And it has been ticking.

Barely perceptible over the ringing and clicking and voices.

Just another man.  Wavering between the now I’m dissatisfied with and the tomorrow I want. Well aware of all the colossal mistakes I’ve made.

 

~ K.J.

 

 

 


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