A Different Kind of Day
So what’s your point?
My point is that it doesn’t matter.
That what doesn’t matter?
Any of it. For Christ’s sake. Look at yourself. Sitting here, splashing water on your face like a dumb fucking dog, praying that it’ll work just like it hasn’t the past 5 mornings.
Well, what else am I supposed to do? Give up on all of it? I’m just trying to make it through the day here. Do you know how many times-
How many times what? Fucking what, huh? Look, all I’m saying is that there’s a switch. And your finger is hovering right over it. And it’s been there for longer than you can remember. You know it. I know it. That dope down at the gas station knows it every single time you go in there to buy the insecticide and cave for the cigarettes instead. Stand up straight and look me in the eye when I’m talking to you.
How many more times are you gonna buckle? How many more times are you gonna drag yourself down to this shithole and trudge through all this garbage?
Fuck ’em. When’s the last time you got a thank you from one of them, huh? Anybody? All they seem to do is take, take, take. Well, they’ve taken enough. They’ve all taken enough. Now here’s what you’re gonna do. Are you listening?
You’re gonna go back to your desk, and you’re gonna make believe like that idiot’s conversation is worth listening to. You’re gonna sit there, and you’re gonna smile, and whistle, and play the perfect little worker bee. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just another day in paradise. Are we on the same page?
“…so how have things been? I mean, has David said anything to you?”
“Um…well, it’s not like, anything official quite yet. But, I don’t know. I feel pretty good about the whole thing. He’s been really calm lately. You wouldn’t even believe it’s the same guy. I really thought that getting him off would make him like he was before, but… things… have been good, Dana.”
From the kitchen, Harold lodged the usual question. His mother’s response floated cheerily into the living room- nestled somewhere between the crackling wood in the fireplace and Charlie Brown’s never-ending Christmas- informing him of what he already knew:
That it wouldn’t be long.
“Ugh, that’s so good to hear, Mel. I was so worried about it starting to affect his career, or your career, or even worse- Harold. I’m honestly really happy for you guys.”
Melanie Tyndall tried her hardest to hold back the tears. Five seconds ticked by in silence. And with them, all that had been of their time together- a time that now accounted for more than half of either of their lives- rushed through the channels of her mind. She remembered the promise they’d made when Harold was born. And then, she could hold them no longer.
And Harold- eyes, mind, and soul eternally glued to the screen that told him of that little bald boy’s life with the funny side-kick dog- remained blissfully ignorant in a world of his own interpretation, where Mommies and Daddies were one and the same, where Mommies and Daddies didn’t break mirrors when the sun was down.
1200 miles away, caught in the bustle of a Los Angeles traffic jam on the I-10 on another commute home, Dana Neeb heard her sister’s tears on the other end of the line and immediately understood. It didn’t matter that she was surrounded by the frenzied anger of a hundred other desperate, dissatisfied faces. She felt her heart warm. Her sister and her family were finally safe and sound.
You know exactly what you need to buy. Don’t give me that fucking smirk, pretending you haven’t read through this list in your head a million times before. Get your ass out of-
Look, maybe I’m not convinced, alright? You ever stop and think about that? Maybe, even if none of it matters, maybe I’m just attached to it, okay? Maybe I can’t fucking seem to shake the feeling that this isn’t just some sort of invitation for me to do this- or that I even want to do this in the first place. I mean, what have they-
Get out of the car.
Will you listen to me when I’m talking-
Get out of the car, David. Get out of the car, and walk into that store.
You’re not listening-
And here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna buy the things, you’re gonna put them in the trunk. You’re gonna smile at that fucking idiot behind the register. Maybe come back for him later. But that’s not the issue right now, so I need you to focus.
Get out of the car, David. It’s time.
“I don’t wanna eat ’til Daddy’s here. That’s how it always is.”
Standing there, ladle in hand, Melanie Tyndall couldn’t help but be swayed by the tender conviction in her little boy’s eyes. He’d been through a lot, that Harold. He’d been through more than he should have. She felt pangs of distant guilt drip into the melting pot of her love for this child, and his father, and her nostalgic paranoia of the one-too-many nights spent crouching next to the toilet bowl, purging his insides of the latest attempt.
She’d long been entranced by the closeness of the figures on that rear-view. Had been unable to bring herself to look away from it, if even to steer the vessel of their life back onto tamer roads. Now, with all those missteps and mishaps and misshapen tokens of affection resigned to being futile specks on a rearview only worth looking at to appreciate the distance, she felt imbued with a sense of pride. Of achievement. Of love.
“Okay, grumpy. We can wait until Daddy gets here. Go finish your movie.”
“Why can’t Charlie Brown be happy, Mommy? It’s Christmas.”
“Well, you’ll just have to watch and find out.”
The sun outside was nearly gone.
Three heavy knocks fell on the door.
“That’s weird,” thought Melanie, “he’s home a lot later than usual.”