She’s made her choice, and even though it’s not the choice either of us wants, it’s the only choice that works for her right now. And I have to respect that.
I drop my cat off at my studio and decide there’s no better time than midnight to go see my father. He honored my request and didn’t visit or call while I was away. I’m surprised he didn’t visit, but a small part of me is hopeful that he didn’t because seeing his son being sent to jail for his mistakes might have been his rock bottom.
I’ve learned over the years not to allow myself to grow too hopeful, but I’d be lying if I said every part of me isn’t praying he’s been in rehab while I was away.
I expected he would be either asleep or gone, so I brought my house key with me. All the lights are off.
When I enter the house, I immediately see the faint glow of the TV. I turn toward the living room and see my father lying facedown on the couch. Knowing he’s not in rehab sends a wave of disappointment through me, but I can’t deny the small rush of hope that he’s actually lying on the couch because he’s not breathing.
And that is not something a son should feel for his father.
I sit down on the coffee table, two feet from him.
He doesn’t immediately wake up. I reach over to my side and pick up his bottle of pills. The fact that I just spent a month in jail for him should have been more than enough to make him never want to touch another one of these. Seeing that it wasn’t makes me want to walk out of this house and never look back.
My father is a good person. I know that. If he weren’t a good person, it would be easier to walk away. I would have done it a long time ago. But I know he’s not in control of himself. He hasn’t been for years.
After the accident, he was in a lot of pain, physically and emotionally. It doesn’t help that for the entire month he was in a coma, they had him doped up on meds.
When he finally woke up and began to recover, the pills were the only things to relieve his pain. When he began needing more than he was prescribed, the doctors refused his requests.
For weeks, I had to watch him suffer. He wasn’t working, he wouldn’t get out of bed, he was in a constant state of agony and depression. At the time, I didn’t think my father was capable of allowing something as small as a pill to completely devour him, but I was naive. The only thing I saw when I looked at him was a man who was in pain and needed my help. I had been behind the wheel of the car that took the life of his son and his wife, and I would have done anything to make it better. To rectify what happened. I carried a lot of guilt for a long time over that accident, even though I know my father didn’t blame me. That’s one thing he did right: repeatedly tell me that it wasn’t my fault.
Still though, it’s hard not to feel guilt when you’re a sixteen-year-old kid. I just wanted to make it better for him. It began with my being prescribed my own pain medication. It was fairly easy to fake back pain after a wreck of our magnitude, so that’s exactly what I did. After several months of his continuously being in more and more pain, it got to the point where even my additional pills weren’t enough for him.
That’s also when my doctor pulled me off of the pills and refused to give me another prescription. I think he knew what was going on and didn’t want to contribute to my father’s addiction.
I had a friend or two at school who knew how to get the pills my father needed, so it started out with my bringing him the medicine from people I knew. That went on for two years until those friends either grew out of raiding their parents’ stashes or moved off to college. Since then, I’ve been getting them from my only other source, which is Harrison.
Harrison isn’t a dealer, but being around alcoholics for the majority of every day makes it fairly easy for him to know who to contact when someone needs something. He also knows the pills aren’t for me, which is the only reason he’s been willing to give them to me.
Now that he knows I went to jail over the very pills he’s been supplying my father, he refuses to get any more for him. Harrison is done, which I was hoping would be the end of it for my father, since it meant the end of his supply.
But here he is with more pills. I’m not sure how he got these, but it makes me nervous that someone else out there other than myself and Harrison now knows about his addiction. He’s being reckless now.
As much as I’ve tried to talk my father into rehab, he’s afraid of what would happen to his career if he went and it were to become public knowledge. Right now, his addiction is just bad enough that it’s destroying his personal life. However, it’s almost to the point where it will destroy his professional life. It’s just a matter of time, because alcohol is beginning to play a large role and the incidents I’ve been rescuing him from this past year are becoming more and more frequent. And I know that addictions don’t just get better. They’re either actively fought or actively fed. And right now, he’s not doing a goddamn thing to fight his.
I open the lid and pour his pills into my palm and begin to count them.
“Owen?” my father mutters. He raises himself to a seated position. He’s carefully eyeing the pills in my hand, more focused on what I’m going to do to them than he is on the fact that I’ve been released early.
I set the pills beside me on the coffee table. I clasp my hands together between my knees and smile at my father.
“I met a girl recently.”
My father’s expression says it all. He’s completely confused.
“Her name is Auburn.” I stand up and walk to the mantel on the fireplace. I look at the last family photo we ever took. It was more than a year before the accident, and I hate that this is the last memory I have of what they look like. I want a more recent memory of them in my mind, but memories fade a lot faster than photographs.
“That’s good, Owen,” my father mutters. “But it’s after midnight. Couldn’t you have told me tomorrow?”
I return to where he’s seated, but I don’t sit this time. Instead, I stare down at him. Down at this man who was once my father.
“Do you believe in fate, Dad?”
“Up until I saw her, I didn’t. But she changed that the second she told me her name.” I chew on the inside of my cheek for a second before continuing. I want to give him time to absorb everything I’m saying. “She has the same middle name as me.”