Each afternoon played out the same way for John. It had been this way for years. Although his view of it changed throughout the years both physically and mentally. He watched as his father drank from the age of three to eight. The same exact hours he would drink during the day.
It started early, when his mother would hold his hand while walking in. His father wouldn’t even glance over when they entered. He sat watching Maury and other talk shows, as he complained the damn illegals were the ones who placed him there. John didn’t know what illegals were, but he knew his father was angry at them. Constantly. He assumed they were the reason he drank, or the ones who got him drinks.
He grew taller and more independent throughout the years and walked home alone. Although the walk was new, one without his mother, the view back home was the same. His father hadn’t found a job in the years since he heavily drank. He got worse, drinking twelve cans a day and spending what money unemployment sent on the beers. John’s mother got a job as a waitress to assure him they would be able to afford the things he wanted.
When he was eight, John’s father decided to escape the judging house and go to a local bar across town. By now, John’s mother was openly talking divorce and his father was deeper into his drunken days. He had enough of what he called shit, and stormed off one night. From that moment on, his father was out at the bar drinking his life away. He’d show up home around ten each night, and would be absent when John came home from school. Besides the weekends, his father was a ghost.
Five days before his ninth birthday, John touched a mahogany casket. His other hand in his mothers, as it would on the walks home years before. He felt a tear on his cheek, somehow falling out of his eye. His father lay inside, now a real ghost.
The pain was odd, as his father was gone for many years before his death. But John had seen others grow up without a father, and having an absent one was better than having none at all. He didn’t know who to turn to for help.
His father’s death was fitting. He died as he lived, full of alcohol. Although, he never lived wrapped around a tree as he did now. Other kids told him it would happen one day. But John didn’t know it would so soon. All John could do was blame the drink, the one constant in his father’s life, and soon his.
Originally written at San Francisco State University in 2015.