I like the quiet. Haven’t had it for a while, now. What’s it been, two weeks? A few hours of sleep every few days. Too much to do. Another step to take. Need a plan
Just one more week, that’s all I need. The next phone call. The next visit. Just a few more emails. One more. It’s like repping out deadlifts with a ripped hamstring.
Hell, I’ve got more paying clients than I have places to train them.
So I complain to my grandfather. He laughs, reminds me the important stuff tends to take longer. Then, I pull my head out of my ass and ask how he’s doing.
“Not good. That chemical shit hits you different, every time. Every time, you have to learn a new way to deal with it. I’m making it, son.”
I don’t correct him.
He asks when I’m coming back home. It’s always next week.
I tell him I wish there was more industry, more anything in the old hometown, so that I could stay home, and still pay my bills. But there’s not. So I have to leave the people who held me up my whole life to their own devices.
Til next week. Always next week.
I talk to gran’ma. She’s doing better. Still not used to missing a quarter of her lung. Makes walking the hills, walking the dogs a little harder, or lot, weather depending. She asks when I’m coming home. It’s always next week.
They wish me luck, they know the business will catch on, that if I keep my nose to the grindstone, it’ll come out good bread.
Just so long as I don’t stay under the stone.
I go to sleep, damning God for killing my family with alcohol, with the cancer, with bullets and with hate. Remembering the years I’ve spent, crawling from bed to the toilet to vomit and shiver and seize because a few nerves are impinged, a few bones cracked or broken, a few muscles out of whack in my back. Remembering the weeks I would go sleepless, unable to stay in a position for more than a minute without losing control of my stomach, my bowels, my eyes.
Then, sleep comes up slowly, teasing me with more of the other nights. Nights before I had a language, and the dark twisted around the lightning, and made me afraid. Dreams of things that moved and sought and taunted and just wanted me ended.
I remember the two and a half decades of constant static in my head, a broken radio. Everything looking, sounding, moving around me in layers, nothing real. Able to process information, but not exploit it. To see emotion, and not be able to react, just know.
That son of a bitch. A father selected for the position, not the man. Not a man, at all. Just a baby that can do math.
Time wasted. Years of fear and hate roll around me. It always comes in waves. Never can see it coming. Only stops when it’s too cold. Or the iron’s too heavy. Or in kata. Present a puzzle, a task I can’t solve before I start, and I’m good. For a few minutes.
I remember the slices of time when I was happy. Quiet. Content. They were there, grandpa and gran’ma. I thank God, and sleep takes me.
The alarm. Maybe this day, I’ll be a little closer to the quiet.