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First thing’s first.
This is a zero judgment zone.
It’s been years since I last saw her.
I can’t help but think about her putting my son to bed…
I can’t just betray my best friend.
F*ck what anyone says – I’m going after the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I’m not turning back.
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I stared at the papers on my desk, tapping my fingers. The days seemed to be getting longer and longer, and the last place I wanted to be was in my office not giving a crap about what was going on. I turned toward the computer and looked at the time, rolling my eyes. It was early, too early, which only meant it wasn’t time to leave yet. I knew it was a terrible state I was in, but it was what it was. I’d worked so hard for my company, but with everything that had happened over the past year, nothing seemed to matter anymore. I had turned into the guy I always pitied and never understood, and while that should have made me angry, it only made me more depressed.
I sighed, looking up at the open door, catching Inez, my assistant, staring at me from her desk. She raised an eyebrow and rubbed her face. She was staring at me again, something that had become a regular occurrence, especially since everything I didn’t do fell on her shoulders. I should have cared about that, but unfortunately I didn’t, which made it even more difficult for her to deal with. She tried to be understanding. She really did, but after a year, I couldn’t blame her for getting impatient.
A year—sheesh, I still couldn’t believe it had been that long since my lust for life had died out along with my deceased wife. The moment I’d heard the words that my wife was dead, everything inside of me had come to a screeching halt. There were too many surprises wrapped up in that one big event, and after that, I settled for going through the motions. The craziest part about it all? I was completely and totally aware it was happening, but I didn’t know how to stop doing it. I had even gotten to where my responses to my eight-year-old son, Cooper, were generic, by the book, and plain as day. We muddled through the evenings with the same robotic motions, pushing through the hours until I could finally lay my head in the bed, take a sleeping pill, and pass out, only to start completely over the next day. It was like a gray fog that followed me everywhere, sucking the color and shine from my existence.
Inez wasn’t the only one to notice. It was noticeable to everyone who knew me, especially Cooper. Every day, he watched me walk out of the bedroom in silence, grab my coffee, take a sip, fix something for breakfast for him, and then disappear until I was ready for work. Every day Cooper would sit there, waiting for me to say anything, do anything that would show I was still in there, but it never happened. He would leave for school in the same silence that we started the day with, and that would pick up when I got him from school that afternoon. I loved my son, but I didn’t see the point in being that wild and crazy, happy man anymore. And I knew that made me a shitty father.
Cooper was his mother’s son. He loved everything about her, acted like her, thought like her, and to be honest, had very little in common with me besides being the little boy I loved. We had done things as a family and it was always great, but once his mother was gone, there was no bridge for us, especially since I couldn’t seem to get my head screwed on straight to save my own life. I was starting to think this was just how it was going to be from here on out.
My thoughts were disrupted by the sound of Inez clearing her throat. I looked up, realizing she had come into the office, and I hadn’t even seen her do it. She had one eyebrow raised and my cell phone in her hand, offering it to me. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I took it, knowing there was no way she was going to let it go. I glanced down at the screen and sighed. It was my best friend, Hollis. We had grown up together, been inseparable for years, and despite that I’d moved all the way across the country to Boston, he remained a staple in my life. He had been a huge influence in my relationship with my wife and was the best man at my wedding. Hit pretty hard by the news of her death as well, he’d been trying to get me back on my feet ever since. The grief and the heartbreak coupled together, though, were almost too much to bear, even with his constant support.
“Hey, Hollis,” I said, trying to sound like I was busy.
“Don’t act like you were busy,” he chastised. “You know you were sitting there staring off into space, drumming your fingers on your desk.”