My head spins as I drive back home. Thoughts tear through my mind like a storm, no matter how hard I try, I can’t think straight. Halfway home and I can’t stand it, it’s like my skin is itching, there is a nagging on my brain, no peace, no quiet. I pull off into a small roadside park.
I can’t stay still, I get out of the car and sit at a picnic table. I stare down at the wood, painted, faded, repainted, faded again. Dozens of names carved sloppily into the wood. Jack + Diane, people hoping to leave their mark on the world by digging into a picnic table with a dull Swiss Army knife.
Hands reach into my thick hair, fingers clench and I pull. If only I could pull my thoughts out, organize them neatly on the table, maybe I could figure it out. Laina, Amber, the hotel, the goddamn machine, all today, all on the day my Dad died. My Dad…
I reach into my khakis and pull The List out of my pocket. There it is, staring up at me from the Never See column. Taunting my in neat blue ink; Dad. Never See. Fingers run over the ink, like somehow just touching the word will give me peace.
I stand and pace, still staring at The List. Still running my fingers over the word; Dad. Lips curl into a snarl; fingers tighten, crumpling The List into a ball.
“Fuck!” The rage and confusions fills me, the world disappears around me and I give in. I let loose, swinging a balled fist into a nearby oak. I don’t even feel the pain. I punch. Tears well up in the corners of my eyes. I punch. My voice raw as I scream incoherently at no one. I punch. The skin on my knuckles tears. I punch. Blood seeps from my knuckles and spatters the bark. I punch.
Until there is nothing left. Until the screams are gone. Until there is no more strength in my arms. I crumble at the base of the tree and give in to despair.
I don’t know how much time passes, but it’s dark when I get up and head back to the car. The trip home is spent in deep reflection. I’ve made enough mistakes, I’ve messed enough things up. I can’t get back in the machine again. I can no longer risk the consequences of seeing what could have been.
My hands hurt so bad.
I step into the house, the low drone of the television echoes from the living room. For a moment everything seems normal. The moment is short lived.
Laina hears me come in, she steps into the hallway. The corner of her mouth curls up slightly; there is a glow about her, a sparkle in her eyes that’s been missing for so long. She doesn’t even notice my bloodshot eyes or skinned up hands.
She looks me dead in the eyes, steps toward me and announces, “I’m pregnant.”