Chapter eight – Rock bottom
Hiya, folks! I’m back from vacation and itching to finish this story. So here it goes.
Natalia’s life ended in the last chapter, but the story of her generation’s family didn’t. For obvious reasons I can’t storytell from Natalia’s point of view anymore, though, so from now on you will be witnessing from Wyatt’s point of view.
I lived only because I was alive.
Every day would be the same routine.
Go to work.
Just repeating the routines drilled into my body.
That was my life.
Before long, I got fired from work. Waking days were torture. I used money to waste time on alcohol, to run away from it all. When I looked at reality, it felt like everything was breaking down from under me.
My fault. All my fault.
I lived so that I wouldn’t have to think about anything. Drinking, gambling, everything to keep me away from reality. I wanted to remain oblivious to it all. That was the only way to cope.
I thought of all of it as a mistake.
The fact that I met her. Fell in love with her.
The fact that I married her. The fact that we had a child together.
All of those were mistakes. It was a mistake of me to think that I deserved a family.
Another empty day. I’d woken up with a huge migraine from drinking too much the other evening, and my legs felt like there were straps of lead tied to them with every step I took. I slowly walked over to the coffee machine and poured myself something strong. There were piles of bills lying next to the thing. Unpaid bills. It wouldn’t be long before they’d take the machine away… but what did it matter, anyway.
The doorbell rang. Probably accountants, or another bailiff. I didn’t bother answering and retreated into the dark living room, sipping at my coffee.
It rang again. And again.
That bailiff-guy sure was persistent. His constant ringing made my migraine worse. That, combined with the hangover from last night, made my irritation level boil to the surface.
‘Alright, alright, I’m coming. Darn it, don’t they know to leave me alone by now,’ I muttered. I put down the cup and staggered over to the door, opening it slowly.
‘Good morning, Wyatt.’
Seeing who was on the other side of the door surprised me so much that I forgot to be angry right away.
‘Hello, dear. How are you doing?’
Was she just ignoring the obvious signs of fatigue on my face, the beard slowly growing all over my chin?
‘Are you by yourself, miss Adams? Is there something I can help you with?’
I tried to keep the coldness from my voice, but it wasn’t really working. Catherine paid no mind to it, though.
‘Actually, yes, there is. Would you like to go on a date with me?’
‘Just a friendly lunch-date, with the two of us. Julian is sweet, don’t get me wrong, but I like to go out with young people every once in a while.’
‘Can’t you go with someone else?’ I protested. ‘More like with anyone but me?’ I really wasn’t in the mood to entertain Catherine Adams.
‘Oh, but it has to be you, Wyatt! You’re just my type. Come on, I’ll even treat you. What do you say?’
‘Fine, fine. But just for lunch.’
Catherine drove me to a small, cozy-looking restaurant with a few tables in front of the door. We proceeded to walk towards the nearest table. I kept glancing at her from the corner of my eye. She could have asked every other guy. Any other guy out there. If she wanted to have some fun, why come to me, of all people?
‘I guess you have something to talk to me about?’ I asked, concluding that that was the only logical explanation for all of this.
‘I do!’ she smiled. ‘But let’s order something first. Is tea and bread all right with you?’
She placed the order and passed it onto the waiter, who quickly disappeared into the building. A small silence fell.
‘How is your search for work going, Wyatt?’ Catherine asked eventually. The truth was that it was miserable, as was the rest of my life, but saying that would come back to haunt me later. So I lied.
‘Fine. I think I may have finally found something.’
‘That’s wonderful!’ she smiled. ‘And reason to celebrate. We have our milestone birthdays coming up soon, too.’
‘You and Julian?’
‘What do you say we celebrate those events with a small vacation?’ she said, ignoring my question.
‘Just the two of us again?’ I joked. ‘That would be exiting.’
‘Oh, it would!’ she laughed. ‘But we should go with everyone this time. Don’t you think so, too?’
‘Yes, with everyone! I’m sure she would like that. Julian’s been wanting to have a man-to-man talk with you for a long time now, too.’
Catherine was smiling hopefully at me, her eyes sparkling in the afternoon sun. I didn’t want to look at those eyes. I didn’t want to be reminded…
‘I’ll… think about it.’
It wasn’t long until I was back home again. The words of Catherine haunted my mind, poked at my senses and refused to be forgotten no matter how hard I tried. A vacation. With all of us. A trip with everyone… wasn’t a good idea. Not after what happened.
As soon as the front door fell shut behind me, the phone started to ring. I made my way towards it and picked it up.
‘Ah, Wyatt? It’s me, Catherine. Have you thought about going with us on a trip yet?’
‘Ah- no, not yet,’ I said, a bit surprised. ‘I haven’t gotten to it yet.’
‘I see. I’ll call you back later, then!’
She hung up.
‘What’s she being so pushy for?’ I thought out loud, putting the phone back on the holder. It hadn’t even left my fingers yet, though, when it started to ring again.
‘Have you given it some thought yet?’
‘You win, misses Adams,’ I sighed. ‘I’ll free my… schedule so I can take this weekend off.’
‘Great! I’ll see you at our house on Friday morning, then.’
‘Wait, I meant just for two days-‘
I ended up spending the rest of the week constantly changing my mind. I would go. I would stay at home. I’d leave a day earlier. I’d call her and say I was sick. I’d find a job quickly and get lost in that, so I wouldn’t have to go.
But that would be the same as abandoning Cathy and Julian, and I just couldn’t do that. I had forced everything onto them, after all.
So, at that Friday morning, I slowly made my way towards the Adams house. I knew the route so well.
I expected there to be a birthday party, or a big pile of suitcases ready to be packed. They’d maybe invited Thomas to come along, too.
What I didn’t expect was absolutely no one in sight, man or dog. The door was open and the fireplace lit, but other than that there was no sign of life anywhere. Was I too late? Had they left already?
‘Julian! Hey, old man! Where are you?’
I searched the bathrooms and even their bedroom, but there was no sign of my ex-mother and father in law. Where could they have gone?
I walked back into the hallway on the first floor and that’s when I saw them.
The ever-present pain in my chest tore up my heart without constraint. It felt as if my inside was going to shatter to pieces all over again. I shouldn’t have come here. There were too many memories, too much that reminded me of the horrible mistakes I’d committed. Too much that screamed that if it wasn’t for me…
I turned around quickly when I heard the footsteps. There was nothing behind me. There was nothing, but I was sure that there was… that it was her.