Hard working father, scraping by,
stares at the photo he keeps in his box
Soon as it hits 5, he’s off the clock
He’s got some news today, he’s got something to share, something to say
After all, nothing is good enough for his family
A bonus, a late tax return check, any overtime he could get
A dying company, a few pay cuts, a few fewer friends at work
It hasn’t been easy and the hard days are only getting harder
But they are strong. Resilient.
And despite the long drive and drooping eyes, he kisses his wife
who prepares for her night shift at 9, but always pick up their son at 3
She finished cooking, he sets the table without being asked
He could hardly wish for a more picturesque
Today is a special sort of day with a little extra cash
between pennies coated in grime and cigarette ash
He grins, and though they don’t take vacations and hardly eat out
They scrounge enough for a smart phone
Because nothing is good enough for his son
Excitement fills his heart, and guilt quickly follows suit
But he is young and insecure and wants to fit in and knows he is good
So the family gladly gather their things and race out the door
Taking the bus to the local store because gas is best reserved for work,
leaving their modest meal out
Goldilocks stumbles down the street, her eyes full of defeat
She’s hit the bottle again, led by pretty boys who extend their hand
To guide her to dance and drink the gin juice
Because someone like her, because of that hot dress she wore
She’s had too much, too soon - drink, boys, and grown men
Because for the 10th week in a row, she was kicked out the door
Bartender took her keys, patrons’ eyes judge her - what a whore
So she stumbles home, grasping at bricks and poles as if they were hands to hold
Grips onto a rail that will lead her to the train so she can finally rest her rattled brain
What does she find,
she hits a heavy door.
That’s not the subway
Man, what else did she take?
Is she home already?
The door seems smaller, dirtier, ugly.
But why else would she here, it must be right
So she lets herself in, the hallway doesn’t match,
But she’s too far gone to catch such a small detail
She smells food, self-preservation first
The acid burns, her stomach churns,
Her body is betraying her again, she needs to eat
She trips over herself and takes a bite - disgusting.
She blurts out slurred curse words for no one to hear
The blacks of her vision ascend and recede like tides of consciousness
She clumsily checks each bowl for something to save her, but it’s all the same
Her skin tingles and her muscles tire, she stumbles from the nausea,
Knocking over the garage sale folding chair that falls beside
his patched up, indoor lawn chair and her curbside wooden stool
She makes her way to what she prays is a soft bed to lay
She only sees mattresses on the floor
She scowls, but her body is spent,
she collapses onto lumpy relief as the tendrils of intoxication rock her to sleep
They come home, ecstatic, blissful, naive
Door wide open - they forgot to lock
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
She holds her son back, a safe distance away,
Unsure of the dangers inside, they wait
He cautiously walks in, using his memory to guide him through the dark
The one bed-room apartment smells like rubbing alcohol
Chairs turned over, broken mismatched plates, spilled plastic cups, food all over the place -
No dinner for the night
He ventures into the bedroom, there,
some of the color leaves his face.
He sees her goldy locks covered in bile.
What now? Is she okay? Why is she here? I don’t know CPR.
Does she need an ambulance? Do I call 911? How do I explain this? I’m scared.
What do I tell my family? Do I ask them to wait in the car? Around the block where it’s safe.
Am I going to die tonight?