“Frankie’s Pizza Plaza, how can I help you?” the raspy voice on the other end of the line said.
“Hey, Frankie. It’s Jude. Can I get the usual, please?” The exhaustion dripped from my voice as I spoke.
“No worries, dude. You sound like you’ve been through the ringer. The new driver will be there in about twenty.” Pans banged and crashed in the background.
“Cheers.” I stood up from my perch and rounded the kitchen counter pulling down a glass and a bottle of bourbon from the cupboard above the stove. My muscles protested as I reached wide and tapped the glass against the ice dispenser on the front of the fridge before topping it up with the golden amber liquid.
“Bath time, boys!” I called out to the kids before taking a good mouthful of liquid stress reliever. Drooping back against the counter, I sighed when the rush of warmth ran down my throat and settled deep in my stomach. My head pounded, my body ached and my eyes felt like they were hanging from their sockets. This day needed to end and it couldn’t happen soon enough.
The boys as they ran from one side of the house to the other, the only reprieve in my day knowing they were happy. Obviously, bath time was being avoided. I pushed off the counter to rally everyone into the bathroom.
The doorbell chimed as I dragged my feet toward the stairs, changing my path to answer the door instead. I palmed my wallet from the side table as I went.
“That’ll be $23.60, thanks.” The delivery driver smiled when I opened the door. A young girl, no older then seventeen, all but bounced on the spot. Some people clearly loved their jobs far too much.
“Thanks.” I handed over some cash and told her, “Keep the change.” Jordan bounded past me and took the pizza and wings from her hands before I could even reach for them. I chuckled, so much for the bath.
“Thanks for the tip. Would you mind terribly if I gave you one of these?” The curly redheaded pogo stick held out her hand with a small white card in it. I took it between two fingers with my eyebrows raised, wondering what the hell she was giving me. “I’m trying to make money to help with my college tuition.” She bounced on the balls of her feet as she spoke a huge smile still in place. “I babysit, mow laws, do cleaning, cooking and errands. Just about anything you can think of I can try.” She told me, her springy red hair falling out of her baseball cap.
“Oh, sure. Sounds good.” I yawned not able to withhold my tiredness.
“Great, thanks, super! Well, if you ever find a need for any of those things, there’s a number on the card. Have a great night, mister!” I closed the door as she bounded down the front steps and back to her little car. Not taking much notice, I threw my wallet and the card onto the side table and headed to the living room to see what scraps of food the garbage disposals I called children had left me.
I was afraid of so many things. I knew in the bottom of my heart and soul I just wasn’t enough. Being alone, not being worthy, being the wrong person, feeling too much, not feeling enough, people seeing me cry, never being loved, getting my heart broken… I was afraid of being human.
I was afraid of being me.
Those lines… ‘I ’m just not ready for a relationship.’ ‘I need to evolve as a human being.’ ‘It’s not you it’s me.’ ‘Don’t take it personally. You’re a great girl.’ I’ve heard them all before.
They drew you in and spat you out every time. But I couldn’t be bitter. I never would be. I’d just always be a fool, the fool who hoped against all odds that I’d find that person who’d look at me like I mattered, the one who’d hold me just because they wanted to… who’d call me at night just to hear my voice. That one person I could give myself to completely without fear or regret. That one person who could look at me with tears rolling down their face and still tell you I’m the most beautiful person in history. A fool who’d stumble and fall over my crushed dreams but get back up and do it all again later.
Tears rolled down my face and I pulled my comforter over my head, burrowing down into my nest of pillows in the hope I wouldn’t feel so alone in the cold of the night. So irrelevant, so broken, so very damaged.
The sound of my broken heart beating in my chest lulled me off to sleep. My eyes drifted closed and the silence I was accustomed to faded into darkness.
Monday came far too quickly and with a burst of sunshine I silently wished death upon. Like a sick twist of fate, I passed more than my fair share of ‘happy couples’, all of whom made me want to regurgitate my coffee and bagel.