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Walking up to you wasn’t easy. Monitors stood by your bed with tubes plugged in leading to needles that saliently pierced your skin. I was facing you but I could not help but to watch the heart monitor. You laid there with your eyes closed. I didn’t want to wake you. I didn’t want to talk to you. In fact the starchy hospital atmosphere made me want to run far away from you.

You laughed in a hoarse voice, “Kid, I am not going to die.”

I didn’t see you opening your eyes. Did I have my thoughts stamped on my face?

“I know, you can’t die for another couple of decades Old Man.”

“You know, I didn’t tell you because I always remembered to take my medication.”

“Okay, right. You suddenly started forgetting about your medication out of the blue. You didn’t even warn me I could find you having a seizure!” I replied shaking my head.

I remember I was opening the door to leave. You don’t just forget to take your medication you’ve been on your whole life I thought. I didn’t understand how you could just forget or even forget to tell me that you have epilepsy. It just isn’t something you don’t mention to your son.

“I saw your mother a few days ago–”

I slammed the door shut in front of me. “Why do you even bother? I haven’t seen her in 10 years besides for once when she wanted money for drugs. Her eyes were bled shot. It is obvious she doesn’t–”

“She’s my wife! I said vows, ‘for better and for worse.’ Rick, I know you don’t understand. You don’t know what we have been through. What I have been through and most of all what she has been through. You don’t know.”

“That isn’t fair because you never talked about her. You never said a word.”

“Rick, I don’t stand on this high pedestal. And I am sorry; I guess not showing you my flaws was a flaw in itself.”

“It doesn’t matter. You aren’t on drugs like Mom.”

“I was a drug addict too though.”

“It doesn’t matter what you were. You aren’t now but she is. You have been here for my whole life while she ditched me– us, when I was 6 years old!”

“I got addicted to epilepsy pills. It didn’t stop there though. I did crack and heroin. I dragged your mother into my drug crusade. It’s my fault that–”

“It doesn’t matter. She could’ve stopped just like you did.”

“She did stop. We both did when we found out she was pregnant with you. We stayed clean too,” your voice started trailing off into a deep saturated whisper, “When you were two years old, we found out she was pregnant again with twins. We were driving to the hospital for a check up when we got into a car accident. She was only 7 months pregnant when she went into labor.”

You turned your head away from me as tears swept down your face. Your voice crackled as you reluctantly said, “The doctors couldn’t do anything for them.”

I could see your body trembling. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to say. It felt like you were telling me as if it happened an hour ago. You placed your hand over your heart and squeezed your shirt as if you were really squeezing your heart. You gasped for air, “It was my fault.”

“Dad, it wasn’t–”

Looking up at the ceiling, in an under-toned whisper you uttered I don’t think you ever wanted to say to me, “I caused the accident.”

I remember your voice; your pain seethed into my heart. Tears flowed down your cheeks against your will. The heart monitor beeped rapidly. The nurses rushed in and yelled at me to get out of the room. I glanced at you and mindlessly walked out and sat on the bench outside.

Two younger siblings I would’ve had. A mother I would’ve had. A father who didn’t live in guilt every day of his life I would’ve had. I would’ve had a perfect family, a perfect life. Perfect. Perfection.

I dug my hand into my pocket and popped a few more pills in my mouth. Everything would’ve been perfect. But here I was sitting outside of your hospital bed alone.

–Eli Jenkins