I stared intently at the clock, watching as the hands crawled around and around, as though they hoped reaching the new hour would allow them to rest. The clock struck four. The hands kept crawling.
My arm extends out to the right, still reaching for someone that it refuses to accept no longer sleeps next to me. It can't feel the curve of her body in the mattress. The pillow is still fluffed, having not experienced the weight of a heavy mind and deep thoughts in weeks. I haven't washed the sheets since she left. They still hold her scent. It's the only thing I have left that belonged to her. It was the only thing that she couldn't throw into a box and throw into the back of her car. If I wash them, I will lose the only thing I have left. I'm just not ready for that. I will be soon, I swear, but not today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe.
As I sat up and dragged myself to the edge of the bed, I caught of glimpse of my reflection in the window. My eyes were bloodshot to all hell; the skin beneath them blacker than death and hanging on by a thread. I looked like a meth addict feels after coming off a bad high. I'm still wearing what I wore to work today. I must have forgotten to change when I got home. I honestly don't remember. The whole day has been a blur. Most days have been a blur. I think its... Tuesday? Thursday maybe? It doesn't really matter. Everything has been on repeat since she left.
The first step was the worst. Being struck by the hammer of a vengeful god couldn't have made my head feel any worse. My legs gave out from under me, as they recognized that my belt had cut have the circulation to my lower half when I was lying around. I fell backwards, first bracing myself against the bed with my arms, but ultimately letting myself fall back into the bittersweet embrace of the bed. The white bareness of the ceiling bore into my eyes, as the constant ticking of the clock impregnated my ears with a rhythmic .
I thought about my belt cutting off the circulation to my legs. It choked my waist from day-to-day, all in the name of keeping my pants where they were supposed to be. Even the cutting off of the circulation was a testament to the talent of the belt. It was performing its intended duty. Anything less would have shown the belt to be flawed. That was its design.
It was meant for choking.
I stood back up and undid my belt, holding it up at arm's length, staring at it as though it would speak to me...
I should have been scared. I should have been terrified. I wasn't. The voice soothed me. It was the voice of someone convincing; the voice of someone who knew that my problem could be solved. I trusted the voice. I walked over to the door and sat down in front of it. The door handle was still a decent distance away, which would make things easier. I attached one of the belt to the handle and began to wrap the other end around my neck. I heard a light tap on the door.
I froze in place. Her tiny voice could barely be heard through the door. She sounded lost. She probably had another nightmare. I didn't respond. The door handle started to turn as she tried to push in. I held the door shut.
“Daddy? Daddy, what's happening? I can't open the door,” she squeaked, the panic emerging in her voice as she felt that something was wrong.
“Hey sweetie. Everything's okay. Daddy's just a little busy right now, okay?” I tried to sound okay. I quickly learned that it's hard to sound okay with a belt wrapped around your neck.
“Daddy! Daddy! Let me in please! I'm scared! I need you Daddy.” I could hear the lump in her throat forming. The first tear drop hit the ground and with it my stomach dropped.
“Sweetie. Sweetie. Listen to me sweetheart. Everything is going to be okay, okay? Did you have another nightmare?” She nodded her head with a ferocity that I could hear her hair whipping through the air. It made me smile, just a little.
“Sweetheart. We've talked about this. The monsters are only in your head. I promise. I've been alive since the dinosaurs were around, and I've never seen a monster!” The joke fell flat. The silence made me cringe.
“I didn't dream about monsters, Daddy. I – I h-had a dream about M-Mommy,” she sobbed, barely able to form the words through the snot and tears. In that moment, I wish that I'd been hit by a ton of bricks. It would have hurt less. I didn't have any breath left to say anything.
“D-Daddy? DADDY! W-where are y-you? T-Talk t-to m-me.”
“Ah... I'm... I'm here sweetheart. What... What did you dream about?”
“W-well f-first all three of us were together,” she seemed to be getting a hold on the sobbing, “and we were so happy... You and Mommy took me to the park, and took turns pushing me on the swing. And then, Mommy was pushing me and you were standing in front of me and watching me swing. But – but then...” The tears started to flow again, “then Mommy wasn't pushing me anymore. And you were crying Daddy. You were crying so much. I – I got off the swing and turned around to see where M-Mommy went. Sh-She was running away from us. A-and then I-I s-started chasing her, and I s-started s-screaming for her. B-but she wouldn't s-stop, Daddy. She kept running.” The sobbing wouldn't stop. She started to hyperventilate, gasping for breath in between each cry for her mother.
“D-Daddy. W-Why did Mommy r-run aw-away? W-What d-did I do wrong?” Her innocent little voice broke my heart.
“Sweetheart... Sweetie no... You didn't do anything wrong. Mommy loved you very much. She just needed to go for a while. I'm sure she'll come and see you soon. You are the best little girl a Mommy and Daddy could ever ask for. This isn't your fault.” I couldn't keep back the tears any longer. My voice broke and the tears rolled down my face.
It spoke again, attempting to take away the pain; attempting to take away the thoughts of the little girl with the broken heart on the other side of door.
And I wanted to do it so bad. It felt as though the belt was tightening itself around my neck, slowly taking the life away from my body. I didn't realize that I was sinking down to the floor. I felt light-headed. I liked it.
“Daddy? Are you going to run away like Mommy?”
“Daddy?” She pushed against the door.
“DADDY?!?!” She screamed, putting her entire being into opening that door.
Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it.
My little sweetheart opened the door, and there I stood, my shirt and cheeks stained with tears. I gave her the largest smile I could muster.
“Hello there, pretty lady. Don't worry, I'm not going to run away. I couldn't leave my little sweetheart all on her own, now could I?” She giggled through the tears and ran towards me, jumping up into my chest. I caught her and fell backwards onto the bed, holding her close to my chest.
“I'm glad that you're my Daddy. I love you.”
“I'm glad that you're my sweetheart. I love you too.”