THURSDAY: Happy Life

BY GORDON RAY BOURGON

Copyright is held by the author.

I HAVE STOPPED talking to my husband.

I hate seeing the look on his face when I talk to him. He smiles — but nothing registers. I can say: “Jack, I am having both my legs amputated and switched around. That’s right, my left leg’s going where my right was, and my right’s going where my left was.” He’d smile and nod, like he was watching TV with the volume turned off.

***

What have I done? What have I done wrong? I thought I had been good to Erin. I watched Grey’s Anatomy and that stupid show where stars danced with real dancers in some stupid competition. I listened to her talk at the breakfast table. I said her suppers were good, great even. Our sex life was good — I thought.

***

I want my son back. I miss Michael so much. He’s waiting for me. I can see him. His arms are ready to hug me. His little nostrils flaring like always just before he buries his face in my sweater. I can hear him breathing and his giggle when I squeeze his rib cage.

I cannot tell this to Jack. He’d get angry. What can I say to my husband? What can I do to make him stop doing what he does to me? How can I get us back?

***

It’s Michael. People say that losing a child puts a strain on a marriage. But I think she blames me for our marriage breaking apart. Christ, I didn’t even know we were in trouble! Sure, I miss Michael. I mean . . . I can’t even go there. That place is just too . . .

***

I remember when I first knew I was in love with Jack. It was at one of his hockey games. I went to a lot of his games. I loved to watch him play. So after this one game, the guys were crazy with the win and wanted to get drunk and talk about it. I waited outside the locker room for Jack. I remember the smell of that old arena: stale ice, wet concrete, coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn, sweat. My toes ached from the cold. My breath floated in front of my face and hung there like it, too, waited for Jack.

Bursting through the locker room door, Jack saw me and smiled. I’ll never forget his ridiculous, sweaty face. The guys pleaded for him to join them at the bar. Jack walked up to me and kissed my cheek — he smelled of wet leather and Old Spice. He spun around to face the guys, and said, “No can do boys! I’m gonna’ spend time with my honey!”

The guys jeered and howled. But Jack paid them no mind. He tucked his hockey gloves and stick under his arm and kissed me again.

I want that Jack back.

***

She wanted me to be a jack of all trades (no pun intended) when it came to emotions. I wasn’t raised that way. My parents never openly showed affection. The love was there; you knew it, you just didn’t see it.

Like my dad I was self-taught on the necessary details of being the man of the house. I tinkered and toiled, sat, thought, and drank. I cleaned the gutters, mowed the lawn and tore apart the lawn mower only to never get it to work again. I disliked my neighbours and fell out of touch with my old hockey buddies. I was a typical husband, right?

***

There were no warnings. No celestial beacon shone in my face and gave me a heads up about something good happening or, as it turned out, something terrible. I did not wake up one day with a voice in my head telling me today is the day your son will die.

***

There are some days I do not understand living at all. I mean, I go through the motions, put my pants on one leg at a time, so to speak, but still do not understand the meaning behind my existence. And what does it matter if someone you love more than life itself is taken from you? It doesn’t. Nothing does.

***

I want us to talk, but more than that, I want Jack to hold me. I want — need — to be held by my husband, to keep whatever is keeping me alive inside. The tighter he holds me, the safer I’ll be.

***

I have lost my desire to make love to Erin. I still have the need for sex; my body doesn’t seem to care about me being emotionally torn to shreds. I’m afraid if I hold Erin, kiss her, I will disintegrate, painfully, rapidly.

***

If someone were to ask me why I did it I would tell them I was tired of seeing everyone around me happy. There was no happiness for me. I am not about to explain how deep and insidious this feeling of perpetually not being happy was. Like a voracious worm it gnawed at my heart, made its way to my brain and feasted. It did not drive me crazy, on the contrary, once I knew what I had to do my thoughts were clear, sane.

I knew what I had to do to claim happiness for myself. A happy life, that’s all I wanted. When they come for me I will pull the trigger. At my happiest it will all come to an end.

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