This resembles the truth...
He sat there on the sofa rubbing the tips of his fingers together. The itch was overwhelming. It created an edge that was hard to pull back from. It drew him as a cement block draws a body down to the silt. The poison in his blood was making him feel too alive to sit still.
He rises and begins to pace. He's trying to ignore the clinking from the motel bathroom where his wife is starting her shower. The sliding of a cheap shower curtain is louder than it should be and reminds him of his new domestic life. He's trying not to look at the baby sleeping on the cheap bed three feet away.
His mind is starting to race out of control. What am I doing here? How did I end up a husband and a father? This life is too small.
"I need a drink. I need a goddamn cigarette and some air."
The tiny pink anchor doesn't even make a dent in the motel mattress. It just lies there not making a difference but ruining everything.
The squeak and thump of shitty 1960's plumbing snaps him out of his glare. She's getting out of the shower and will soon join him in the only other room in their home. He slinks back to the sofa and relaxes his shoulders. He thinks about what it's like to feel normal and suddenly he is. He's a good liar.
She walks into the room, still the most gorgeous girl he's ever seen. Her frame is slight but it's holding up a mass of wet blonde hair, heavy blue eyes and a head full of plans. She goes to the anchor on the bed and smiles. She turns to the man and gives him the same beautiful smile.
"Did he cry?"
"No. No problems."
"Your turn in the shower."
"Thanks. I'll wait. I need a smoke. I'm going to the store."
"Are you out already?"
"Yeah, I had to bum two today. Got any money left?"
"Not much. We need some milk and diapers."
"Shit. Again? Fine, I'll get the cheap menthols and I'll pick up milk too. Can we wait on the diapers another day? Tomorrow's Friday."
"I guess. Here, this is my last five."
"Thanks babe. I'll make it quick."
He slips on his thin dingy jacket and is almost out the door.
"Where's my kiss?" she says.
"Sorry about that. I really need that smoke."
He gives her a quick peck and the door shuts a little too eagerly behind him. She carefully lowers herself onto the bed and stares at the boy for a long time. Gradually a nagging creeps in. The room feels wrong. It's lopsided.
"One of the bags is missing!"
There were four duffel bags when they rented the room. Now there's only three.
"It must be in the bathroom."
She hustles across the tiny room that now feels too big. It's not there!
"Maybe it's under the bed".
It's not! The panic is choking off the air. They have so little left. They need everything they have. Where is it! She starts to cry.
He'll know what to do when he gets back. Maybe he moved it. But I'd see it. It should be here.
"Calm down, dammit. Everything will be fine. We're together and I have a beautiful healthy baby."
She climbs onto the bed, careful not to disturb the boy and wraps herself around him. Sleep overtakes her.
They're both crying. The baby is crying from hunger and she's crying from a missing bag and a seven hour cigarette run. Her reality is leaning in on her now and it smells like a cheap motel and panic-sweat. He took his clothes and all of the photos. He took her last five dollars. She's having stomach cramps now. She's a single mother with no job and can't yet appreciate her luck.
She holds that baby tight and fights back her sobs. She stares at the little boy she so desperately loves. He's calm now. That man, the one that smelled like poison and paced the room, just did the greatest kindness that he will ever do for anyone. He ran away.
Happy Birthday Mom. I love you. You've walked like a giant and carried me all the while.