She lay in bed, sinking into her memory foam thumbprint. Imprint. While her eyes grew heavy and she sedately drifted away, she violently jolted back to conscious reality. The phone rang- vibrating, shaking molars in their sockets. Her head spun, hazy, as she failed to recall her place here.
“Hello?” she asked shakily.
The voice answered, “You sitting down Catherine? It’s your father. He's... he's...”
She felt her knees buckle as she slumped onto the closest piece of furniture.
The voice narrated a story; a story that as surreal as it sounded, she shook the news off like an inconvenient swarm of horseflies. As much as they flitted around, tearing her skin, sowing seeds of parasitic doubt, she was numb. Nothing. It felt like a fishbowl was on her head, warping her vision like a mirror in s twisted, sick fun-house.
His wife, a woman who was nearly Cathy’s age left for a trip, and upon her return came to realize she was done. Fed up with his dysfunction. He’s a drunk. Always a drunk. Completely dependant on others. He’s blind in one eye and his anxiety robbed him of his sanity and autonomy. He can’t leave the house without falling victim to a crippling attack. Walls closing in, everything going black, chest crushing his lungs. All he does now after losing his mind his intellect is blather on about conspiracy theories and cryptozoology. A far crty from the brilliant, self-taught civil engineer he once was.
His new “project” is making cardboard box “condos” for the homeless. Founding a defacto Hooverville in their backyard.
She’d had enough.
Oh, the tangled webs we weave.
She rang him from the seedy train station.
“Don’t be afraid, Jaime. I’ve fallen. Three times- there’s blood everywhere,” he slurred.
Scared shitless, she called the local police. It’s a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere. They know Roger. Oh, how the know him. This sad man.
They escort her onto the property. Caked in his own filth, teeth rotting out of his skull, matted and mangy. Vodka bottles and pills scatter the floor like confetti while a rat scuttles by- an innocent bystander.
He screamed. He begged. Sloppy, inebriated droll dripped down his face, glistening in the moonlight. He can’t do this again. Not again.
“Hello? You there? Hello?” the voice spoke.
“What? Oh, yea, sorry,” Catherine answered, coming to.
“I love you, Cathy. It’s not your fault. Please don’t blame yourself. We know he’s been gone for years. You haven’t even seen him yourself for what, almost eight?” the voice said.
“Yea, sure. Listen, I gotta go.” She hung up the phone.
Listening to the sound of her breath, her chest rising and falling. Ribs framed her helpless vulnerability. She looked like a house of cards. Her frailty tempted savory miscreants. Like ringing the dinner bell for proverbial jackals to come and indulge in a carnal buffet.
Her heart beat. Consistent. These things were unchanging, for now.
Using what little strength she had left, she lifted herself begrudgingly off the couch; collected her disheveled self and thought… Well, nothing. She thought nothing.