The day is a dreary January one, covered in mist and snow as if to resound my own bleak existence. I am Marcus Thule, and I like my coffee hot and black.
This is the account of my life.
December 24, 2007
Another Christmas Eve spent alone at home, an empty bottle of Morgan in one hand and a remote in the other. The hotel room is bare and empty, save for the seat I sat upon, the tele in front of it, and the no doubt sex-stained bed behind me, whose only occupant was fast asleep. A beautiful girl of sixteen, her long red hair formed a sort of halo around her head while she peacefully slept, wistfully unaware, as yet, of the horrors outside her slumber-land.
That small entity, her small frame, housed my very heart. She is everything to me, I never told her that. In retrospect I ought to have, but my pride and masculinity prevented me from doing so. To elaborate upon my feelings was weakness at the time. It is a foolish thought to think - that loving is a weakness. That particular stage of my life, however, was grey. Melancholy. Like a perpetual cloud cast over my life. I was alone, it felt, with my daughter and the world against me.
She was becoming rebellious. She’s growing up, becoming a woman. She doesn’t know that I saw her kiss a boy just two weeks ago, before everything started happening. Nor is she aware that I have seen her try smoking a cigarette once. She coughed and thankfully found the thing revolting, handed it off to her friend. She hasn’t been allowed at the house since. Not that it mattered anymore. Not then. The point is, she didn’t know that I understood why she was being a fool. I myself was just getting over it. She didn’t know that I loved her, and wanted her to grow into her new self, whatever it may be, because it’d end for the best.
Smart girl, like her mommy.
But here on the road she had no chance to grow, and it was beginning to dawn on me that she needed a place to just stay and settle. I had considered leaving her with my parents, but they are old and withered, scarcely able to care for themselves. Besides, my heart would not bear a day without her face in my sight. Call it a sick obsession, I call it fatherly love. She is my world. My world.
I set the bottle of Morgan down and turned off the television set, quietly moved to the window facing the east. It was still dark out, but I could see a glow of light flirting with the horizon’s edge. There was hardly a thing out here in Michigan, at least this part. Snow covered the ground still, unlike the present moment at which I write this. And the horizon consisted of trees, with a water tower and a few power lines stealing away the serenity of the scene. And the road, with my red SUV parked in the lot. Gas prices made the thing a bitch to keep full, but it got me where I needed and was functional. The old girl and I had been through much. Rather like my daughter - difficult to maintain, but lovely nonetheless.
Where were we going? I didn’t know at the time, but we had to get there somehow. Mary had been so sweet about it. She reminded me so much of my wife…
Perhaps it is because she felt so much like me that she tolerated this trip. Perhaps, but I prayed not. The agony in my heart was deep and wailing. I could not hold the idea that my love felt this pain as well. It upset me to the core. I did my best to remain calm, and had done well so far. The girl is perceptive, nearly a woman herself, and likely could see straight through my expression to my baser self - the roar of emotions within me, the maelstrom brought on by loss.
It would do some justice to know what exactly had happened. I don’t know exactly what happened or how it had happened. In my line of work, you learn quickly that this is often the case - it is all guesses in the end. But at least in most cases you have a thread, a start, a beginning of a clue. In a world as chaotic as this, that is almost ever all we can ask for. I ask God to tell me what had happened.
I believed from the age of twenty in the idea of God, and when I got married it was in a church - I don’t recall nor care what denomination it was. I was not Catholic, barely a Christian, but God was firm, and so was prayer. I used to carry a wooden rosary with me that an old girlfriend of mine gave me back in college. It was a tough time for me, and I had lost most all hope. She asked that I never lose faith, and hold onto the rosary as a reminder at least, of God. I have had it with me since. Not now though. Not at the date this is written, nor when the events I am writing occurred. I left it home, with many other things.
The sun was rising now. I looked upon it with wonder. Did this day bring anything new? Was it going to present redemption? Or will it slip away again into the monotonous night being little more than a continuous cycle of waking and sleeping and dreaming and hurting? I ran my cracked fingers across my brow, wondering which is for me.
I looked to my daughter, the sun’s rays disturbing her sleep. For a moment she struggled not to wake, but in the end her green eyes fluttered gently open. She looked to me first thing, a slight smile on her face.
‘Morning Daddy.’ Angel’s voice, also her mother’s.
‘Morning, pumpkin, did you sleep well?’ Gravelly, deep, broken. I always imagined my voice sounded like Lance Henriskson’s if he had a slightly higher pitch.
‘Mmm’ She answered with a coo. ‘I didn’t wanna wake.’
I sat at the edge of her bed and placed my wrinkly hand on her silky hair, stroking it slowly.
‘Me neither…’ was all I could muster.
‘You didn’t sleep again, did you?’ She said, able to read me so easily.
‘No.’ I admitted.
I choked slightly. ‘I’m fine, pumpkin.’
She didn’t say anything for a long time. After a moment I went into the restroom to let her get dressed for the day in privacy. We eventually packed what little we had unpacked, and by 10:00 I resolved to get into the car and go. She didn’t protest, got shotty, and waited for me to get started. The daily process of wondering if I should just stay at the random hotel for another day pursued, shorter this time. After a few minutes, I backed out of the lot, and headed down the road, unaware of my destination, but simply driving. Daughter at my side, her head leaning against the window, eyes to the cloudy sky.
Neither of us mentioned that it was Christmas Eve. I don’t think we cared.