Chapter 1

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Elias

February 28th, 2015

I can't remember last night.

I should remember why I can't remember, but I don't.

Everything hurts.

My heart's crashing so hard against my rib cage I wonder if it'll actually shatter this time. Just break my bones into a thousand jagged pieces and put an end to all my bullshit.

Most mornings start like this. My body doesn't understand where it is or why it's here, and then I remember.

I remember every fucking mistake that put me in this position and the panic sets in.

Nine outta ten times I can deal with it. I've gotta couple pills within arms reach that help straighten me out, but I barely have it in me to move my hands this morning.

My legs and arms are so numb, the adrenaline tearing through my veins might be the only thing that's keeping me conscious.

But I wanna let go. To tap out. To forget this morning and this moment as badly as I wanna forget the last nine and a half months, but some things just stick.

Even if you don't want them to.

Pressure builds between my temples and my lungs freeze up to the point where I don't know if I can count on them to remember to keep breathing from one second to the next.

I shut my eyes, push through the panic, and scramble to back track the last eight hours.

Girlfriend, hospital, home.

Girlfriend, hospital, liquor store, home.

Girlfriend, hospital, liquor store, cashier girl, home.

Fuck.

I turn onto my side and stare at Mindy's half of the bed.

Someone else's lipstick's smeared across her pillow. Someone else's lipstick is smeared across my mouth.

Nine months.

I haven't touched another girl in nine months, and now a stranger's perfume's all over my sheets.

Shit.

I gotta wash these. I gotta wash everything, including myself.

I smell like her. Like a mistake, and I can't afford to make any mistakes today.

I'm gonna be a dad in a couple hours.

Today's supposed to be all about my daughter, but I'm starting it off sick to my stomach and soaked in a stranger's perfume.

I kick off the covers and try to figure out how to fix things--if I can fix things.

Blurred light pours in through the windows and spills all over the room. I pull a pillow over my eyes to block out the sunlight.

It burns.

Whiskey whirs around my blood stream and leaves my whole body raw and ragged like I ended up on the losing side of a bar fight.

My right hand's throbbing.

I pull it under the pillow and stare up at four bruised, bloody knuckles hovering in front of my face. The skin's shredded.

I lean back against my sheets and try to remember how that happened, but I can't.

Maybe I don't want to.

I sit up, still cradling my wrist and let my eyes wander down my forearm.

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