An Echo of Thunder
3 am the alarm rings, ripping me from my peaceful slumber. The embrace of the blankets begs me to stay in bed, but I know that I must leave. There is nothing waiting for me outside the comfort of this bed except pain and misery. Yet, I still must go. With one quick motion, I am greeted by the cold air of a December morning. My skin reacts before my brain can regret my decision. The climb out of bed seems like climbing Mount Everest, with each painstaking movement harder than the last. As I put on each article of clothing, it feels like I’m covering myself with regret, no shower today, nor yesterday, and I haven’t done laundry in weeks. I head to the bathroom to cleanse myself of the copious drinks I’ve had the night before. It seems that I can no longer make it through the day without burying myself in alcohol during the night. I start the pot of coffee on the stove, knowing that I can’t start my day without it. I open the front door just to be berated with freezing air that could rival the inner circle of hell. That’s what this is to me, a living hell, might as well feel like it. I get in my car, I can still hear the cries of my bed, begging me to stay, saying that it’s not worth the trouble. The wait for the heat to work in this old truck feels like an eternity, as I sit there sipping the warm coffee that was already a week old. As I head to work, images of my own car crash float through my head every time I pass another lonely stranger on the road. I feel driven to drift into the other lane, but I would never forgive myself if I dragged another person into my own personal vendetta. 5 am, I pull into the company parking lot at the factory I have worked for the past 30 years. It’s not a good job, and the company could replace me any moment should they see fit. To them I’m just another number that is lucky to have a job. I open my locker, sneaking a swig from my trusted flask before the opening bell rings. The torture commences, placing filters into medical machines is what I do. It’s not a good living, but it’s a living nonetheless. After what feels like another 30 years, the lunch bell rings. I can feel my old friend darkness creeping into the corner of my mind, where it has made quite the lovely home for itself. Another swig, or two, before my food to stave off the terrorizing thoughts. While we are all gathered in the lunchroom like pigs around a trough before the slaughter, it seems we are paid a visit by his royal highness the factory foreman. I already know what he is going to say. It’s been headed this way for a long time, with the way that the world is. Yet, every word out of his mouth, “The factory is closing”, seems to go right over my head. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but never really expected it to happen now. At least I still have my pension, I suppose this was naïveté from what felt like a moment of security. Next thing I knew I was at the bar, spending the last few cents of my life savings on a drink to wash away the pain. I don’t know how long I’ve been here, I think the barkeep feels sorry for me. He always gives me my drinks for cheap, and doesn’t close up until I’ve had my fill. I don’t need his pity, I don’t need it from anyone. Yet that’s all they seem to offer me when I’m sitting outside the bar with a sign in my hands, hoping to score enough for another drink. Nothing but pity again today, despite how much the barkeep seems to like me, he won’t let me drink off pity alone. I just don’t want to do this anymore. 30 years, 30 years of my damn life to that company! And they can’t even make sure my next 30 are just above the poverty line. I start to stumble my way home after getting the pity of a rich young kid to buy me a couple drinks. I refused, but he insisted it was the least that he could do. The least that he could do would be to leave me alone, but even I wasn’t that lucky it seems. I get to the door, met by a big red notice of foreclosure, oh if my wife could see me now. The home we built our life in, lost our only child in, the house she died in. Maybe she wouldn’t mind the bank taking this place back after all. Well, it is what it is, can’t do anything about it now. On the mantle, a picture of my grandparents, such a happy couple. Next to it is my grandpa’s old big iron, or at least that’s what he used to call it when he was back on the force. I just wish everyone would leave me alone. Go to therapy they said, it’ll get better they said. With what money?! With what insurance?! I lost everything, and now I only have one thing left to lose. I climb into the same bed that begged me not to leave all those days ago. It’s warmth gives me some comfort as a single echo of thunder finally lays me to rest.