What if things would have been different? What if I could have caught a break? What if I didn’t give up? What if…. they believed?
As I walk the quiet streets in darkness, the ‘what ifs’ come and go like the streetlights passing bye. One after another. This had become my life now. Even though today would be the day, it was truly no different than any other that I could remember.
My life was like a movie playing over and over in my mind. But it is only now that I finally accept that not all movies have a happy ending.
When did life diverge on me?
I knew the answer to this question far too well.
As it was on this day, fourteen years ago exactly, that I watched my life go up in flames. I would never recover from the burns that fire left on my heart and soul. Maybe it was my destiny all along?
The date today is May 27th, 2030.
Where had the time gone?
Please do not think I did not try. I wanted to get better for my kids, my family, my friends. For all those people that believed I could. But I just could not fight the demons that tortured me. I remember everything so vividly. Relentlessly, day after day, the dark clouds blocked all light from entering my world.
What else could I do but use? To open that box?
They wanted me to be ‘Happy Joe’ again, and that was the only way I knew how. I was just doing what they wanted.
It worked for a while, but of course it never would last; I know that now. Eventually they got fed up with that Joe as well. Even then, I did not give up. I did what I had to do to try and get back on that bull, to be the father, son, and husband that they all wanted me to be. That I wanted to be.
But it was too little too late.
My wife left me. My kids were kept from me ‘until I got better.’ My parents had to walk away because watching what I was doing to myself destroyed them. Everyone did what they had to for their own personal salvation. I never blamed them, and I do not blame them now.
For a while I stayed in sober living and was grateful to have a roof over my head. I say that now that I know what it is like to live on the streets. Maybe I wasn’t truly grateful back then; who knows?
I remember everything today.
I remember that for a while, that minimum wage job gave me some purpose.
I remember that for a while, I felt proud sending what little money I could to my kids and their mom.
I remember that for a while, I did my best to do ‘the next right thing.’
But unfortunately, I could never accept where life had taken me. I needed to escape.
So today, I remember that for a while, Vodka did the trick.
It was never my ‘drug of choice,’ but it was cheap and it helped me forget. I wasn’t hurting anyone. At first, I remember.
Today I am sick. I know I should not have left the hospital, but what was the point?
My liver is failing and I don’t have much time left. My body is shaking because it needs its medicine. But it is late and no one is on the streets. During the day I could scrape together a few dollars for a cheap bottle and a bag of chips. That was my diet for so long now.
Slowly walking towards the tunnel entrance I recall the first time I begged for money. It was at this intersection right here. I was ashamed, obviously. As I remembered how I looked at beggars earlier on in my life.
Quickly, however, I realized that no one here knew me. Even if they had known me in the past no one recognized the person P.A.I.N. had turned me into.
Life on the streets became normal. Never easy, but normal.
Over the years I was laughed at and ridiculed more times than I can count. Little did those people know that I once dreamt about being the person to save the world from self-destruction. How delusional I once was. How crazy.
As I descend the stairs, tears begin to gather in my eyes. Which is a feat in itself as someone so dehydrated usually cannot cry. But the swelling in my brain must be causing enough pressure to push what little water is left out of my system.
My body knew it was time.
My friends were in their usually places as the last train would be making its final stop for the night. We needed to find a place to sleep down here before they closed the gates or we would be left out on the streets for what remained of the night. Sometimes we were kicked out, but not tonight. “Thank you for that,” I thought to myself.
I could smell the moldy air and moist concrete as the sound of rumbling made its way to my ears.
It was time.
I lowered myself on the tracks, in the shadows so that no one would have to see. It was the least I could do. If I timed it right, no one would know. That is how I want it to be. Finally, to detach, forever.
As the rumbling became louder I thought of my children. I once had dreams of making them so proud. But today the most I could do is hope that they will simply forget.
Quietly, I whispered into the darkness, “If there is anyone listening, I am sorry. If you want to grant me one wish, let it be that they forget me.”
With those words directed to the universe I closed my eyes and hugged Nikky’s tattered book to my chest. The bright light burned the inside of my eyelids as the noise became louder and louder. Calmly, I took my last breath. And it was done.
"I Just Wanna See A Better Day."- Let Go By Beau Young Prince
Question Of The Day:
Think of a time in your life that things diverged from what you once believed would be your life. How does it make you feel today?’
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