I tugged on the rope as Mimi tugged right back. My puppy was definitely the best puppy.
“You are a very nice and calm puppy,” Sariel said as Rosa obediently sniffed her hand.
“Where’s the fun in that?” I asked as Mimi nearly tore out the rope.
“Fun? Where’s the fun in taking out your dogs teeth?” Sariel countered.
“Yeah right! Grandpa wouldn’t have bought this if that’s what it did!” I argued.
“I see daddy!” Mary wobbled past us.
I stomped in front of her.
“No.” I growled. Shocked she fell onto her butt.
Sariel bent down.
“We can’t bother daddy, remember?”
The little brat looked away.
“And it’s all because of you!” I angrily said, roughly turning her around.
“It’s your fault dad is like this, and it’s your fault mom died. If you hadn’t been there, that woman wouldn’t have attacked us! I don’t care if we have the same dad! You dumb kid!” I yelled. It was all her fault! And her mom’s so that made double fault! Her lower lip was starting to quiver.
Mary began to cry and Sariel, as usual, took her defense.
“Max! Don’t say stuff like that!”
“But it’s true!” I argued.
“Not it isn’t!”
“Max.” Of course, now grandma has to come.
“Grandma! Max said mean things to Mary again!” Sariel tattle taled.
“Max, you should know by now-” Grandma started to say, but I was really angry now.
“It’s not fair! Now because of her I’ll also get punished! It’s all that annoying baby’s fault!” Mary’s cries subsided.
It wasn’t fair!
I wanted to rage when I saw Mary, even though I warned her, go in dad’s room.
My eyes were open, but I didn’t see my dark room. I could only see grandma, grandpa, Clarice and Irene’s faces. Most of them died because of me. Maybe I should’ve accepted the offer. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone to save my family. If I hadn’t Irene could still be alive.
I feel so empty.
I’ve lost notion of time, I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. All I can do is stare at the ceiling. Maybe it’ll open up and swallow me whole.
The door swung open and a waddling of feet was heard.
“Grandma she went in!” I barely heard Max’s voice before the door closed again.
“Ooh pretty!” Mary giggled. I followed her gaze to the last painting Irene had drawn.
The painting was meaningless to me. I barely knew what it was supposed to represent.
But something in me broke.
I sat on the bed and cried. I hadn’t ever cried before. I cried tears of frustration, of sadness and of hopelessness.
The door opened again and dad came in.
“Come on squirt.” He said as he picked Mary.
The tears wouldn’t stop flowing and my shoulders couldn’t stop shaking.
“Cain.” My dad started to say.
“Leave me alone.” I croaked out. I didn’t want company right now.
Without another word he left.
I barely kept track of time. I ate, I slept, I went to the bathroom and I stayed in my room. I would count dots, read books without really reading them. I made my bed, I unmade it. I took baths and I took care of myself physically. I did pushups after reading a book; I took a run when the room felt stuffy. But emotionally…I was broken. Probably more than Mary’s mother had been.
I don’t know when, but one day Melody came to visit me.
“I’ve been living here. You probably didn’t notice. Your family…no your kids told me not to come see you. Can you believe that? I know how far you’ve fallen Cain, I know what you’ve suffered, but don’t you think you should get back up now? You’re bringing us down with you. We all love you. We just want to have you around more.” She waited for me to say something.
Sunlight started to stream through the window. Was it morning? Or maybe a cloud had blocked the light. I could look, but at the same time I can’t.
“I feel like I’m talking to a comatose. Something apparently dad was at some point. Which wasn’t your fault, of course, but look at him now! Laughing like he never got shot. I know you lost a lot of people, and I can’t say I know what you feel. I miss our grandparents, and I guess I miss Clarice too, but I didn’t see their deaths first hand.”
“I’m just waiting for you to see the three kids you have in the living room.”
Unfortunately I had fallen asleep.
Falling into my day to day routine, I examined which book to take. I didn’t really care which, but the time it took for me to choose was time I didn’t need to think about anything else.
“Don’t go in!” Max said under his breath.
“Dad!” Sariel’s crying voice reached my ears.
Maybe that’s all that was needed, but seeing my daughter’s crying face snapped me out of my trance.
“Daddy…” She said between sobs. “People at school…said you were going…to kill yourself!”
It all hit me in a second and I hugged my daughter.
I’d never felt so guilty in my life. More than the guilt I felt for the deaths of my family members.
I’d been neglecting my children.
And upon seeing my son’s face before he ran off, I’d neglected them a lot more than I should’ve.