The night was crawling in. Friday was no joke. It was getting busy.
Half asleep, Daniel opened his eyes. Heavy with whiskey leftovers, his slumbering consciousness was abruptly woken up by the loud laughter of the first partygoers.
“Son of a bitch, you can’t just keep it quiet, can you!”, he swore angrily with his half-open eyes as he was stumbling to find his way to the bathroom and take the second shower for that evening.
The noise outside was the least of his problems. The hangover was not the issue, either. As he opened his eyes, the nightmare came back into his mind.
He couldn’t get rid of it. He just couldn’t and he hated it. Used to usually having his way in life during the day, at night, he suffered.
Dreams were a payback time.
The nightmare was recurring since he was twelve. The details were often painted in different colors, but the core of the story was nevertheless the same.
How couldn’t it be – it was a replay of a real event that took place in his family at another time, when his mother Rachel was alive and he had a chance to feel loved, as much as she could love.
Rachel was not the perfect mother. She was very ill and could hardly take care of her basic needs during her last days. Daniel didn’t have siblings and with both parents alive, he felt alone, so terribly alone.
Joseph, his father was rarely at home. His friendship with alcohol was in its prime at the moment. Jobless for who knows what time, Joseph was growing violent as hell. His tolerance levels were on the edge. Most of the time, he yelled than speaking like a normal person. His rage was exasperated by his wife’s powerlessness and the paralyzing fear that he would lose it all if she goes away.
That enraged behavior was occasionally interrupted by his wife’s coughs that reverberated eerily. Her coughs were omens that this family boiling kettle can’t go forever like this.
Daniel had to do most of the housework himself. Under the burden of so many duties, at school and home, the tears that suffocated him as a small child dried off in the corners of his eyes.
When his mom let her last breath out and Joseph slapped him across the face with the hand he carried his ring on, Daniel went into survival mode. On the critical night, his shell finally toughened after he cried for one last time. Although he was still a child, he turned into a proper adult .
He didn’t even notice that blood was running out from the open slit on the cheek. He kept his palm on his face, wondering what just happened, as his mom’s lifeless body laid down spread down on the bed with her chest silent, free from coughs, and her face going grey.
Rachel was dead.
Joseph couldn’t find a better way to deal with the tragedy. He did what he knew best. He poured his anger onto Daniel, shouting in despair as the lights on the neighboring houses started lighting up. It was a poor, but quiet neighborhood and people usually lived in concordance. So much noise was atypical. People were noticing that something weird was happening.
When Daniel’s sadness finally overtook him, he started weeping. Joseph was raging and his hands had lost all control. It wasn’t the first time that he had hit his son, but it was the worst. Enthralled by his anger and incapable of facing the reality of the situation, Joseph grunted in hopelessness and slammed the door behind them.
Daniel knew what followed. He would be back in the early morning in his alcoholic entrapment and go straight to bed to sleep for a couple of hours.
Usually, Daniel used these worry-free hours to talk to his mom and get ready for school. But now, he just didn’t know what to do. He stood in the dark silence until the door opened and his neighbor’s face showed up. He was not alone. Two police officers were accompanying him.
The slap across the face and his mom’s death were a constant theme of his nightmares, especially when he had to meet his dad the next day. This evening was no exception.