The Black Birds

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Some day, some month, 2013:


Sunday morning rain is falling. I’m sitting in my car; parked behind a local grocery store near my in-law’s house. I come here to get high sometimes because I can’t do it at home. My wife and I live with her parents, and this sort of thing is, well, frowned upon. On top of that, I’ve been lying to her about this for some time now. She thinks I quit. The lie has been eating me up faster than the drugs, but unfortunately, not fast enough.


I tell myself that this goes back way before her and I, and that she shouldn’t get between it when she doesn’t understand it. Pride and stubbornness are a dangerous combination for most, and I know that I’m not special, but sometimes I feel like I’m above it all.


It’s funny, I can trace my habits back to a singular point in my adolescence. I was introduced by my aunt’s husband. He could see I was down for whatever, and was excited to be the first to share it with me. It was a misguided sentiment, but genuine none the less.


I keep the drugs in a mason jar with a pipe and a lighter. It keeps some of the smell at bay so my wife doesn’t find it in the house. Days like this beckon me to sneak out for a taste. As I unscrew the cap, the smell wafts into the car and I roll down my windows to let it out. If I’m not careful, the aroma will linger for hours, and it’ll be my luck that she needs to use the car for something soon. I don’t like lying to her, but I like sobriety even less.


As I prepare the pipe, I scan the surrounding area for anyone who could blow the whistle on me. The coast is clear. There are few people around except the workers of the shopping center. I’ve learned through years of experience that most just want to mind their own business, even when something illegal is happening right in front of them. If you ask me, it’s a major flaw in american society.


A spark of the lighter and I begin my daily ritual. The smoke fills my lungs as I inhale deep and long. I hold my breath and exhale slowly through my mouth. The rush is nearly instant. I close my eyes for a moment and wait for it to take me.


As the high sets in, my heart begins to race. Lately I’ve been feeling shortness of breath, and I’ve even experienced black outs; publicly on more than one occasion. For some reason this does not deter me, but terrifies me all the same.  I place my fingers on my jugular to check my pulse. Suddenly my vision becomes blurry, I feel a darkness fall over me, and I’m reminded of my mortality.


I whisper to God for forgiveness. I don’t understand why I’ve chosen this path, or how long I’ll be able to follow it. I don’t want to die alone in a parking lot, out of reach from the people who love me. I feel like such a fuck up all the time, and can’t seem to get my life on track; whatever the hell that track really is. I want to be better, stronger, and I want to live longer.


I realize that I am still breathing, and I have an epiphany. I need to get clean, and never turn back. I’m going to throw these fucked up drugs in the trash right now!

I turn my attention to a set of commercial dumpsters nearly a hundred feet away, and motion to open my car door. As I reach for the handle, three great black birds land upon the dumpsters.


Fear turned to hope, and hope was beaten back down by fear again. Am I seriously that fucked up, or is this for real? I’ve seen birds like this in dreams before; but never has an omen been so overt.


I tell myself to be brave. If not for now, then for the man I always wished to be. Be brave for my wife, my siblings, my parents, and all. I can practically see their faces. I imagine their sobs at the news of my willful demise; their tears become my own as I begin to cry uncontrollably.


Before I know it, I’m marching toward the dumpster. The rain covering my tears and soaking my clothes with each step. I can hear the birds talons scraping the rusted metal as they notice my approach. Their eyes are cold, and fixed upon me like a meal they’ve yet to capture.


When I arrive, I tell myself to be brave again and not to look away. Open that fucking dumpster door and throw that poison in it. There is a cracking sound as my mason jar breaks inside it. The birds make no effort to move. I take three steps to retreat, then I turn my back to the birds as I walk to my car. A weight lifted from my shoulders and a sense of accomplishment fills my heart.  Still pretty high, I head back home.


Today 2017:


I don’t remember when I began to fall back into the same habits, but I know it didn’t take long. My wife and I are expecting our first child in three months. It’s a boy. I pray that he will be a better man than I am. More and more now I think about my longevity. I question what I will do to protect my son from my failures.


I whisper to God once more, and ask that my son be blessed with courage. He should be reminded of what it is to be brave.


I am seeing the black birds more and more these days. That Sunday morning I made a promise; one that was broken there after. Maybe the birds have returned to collect my penance.

Created: May 04, 2017

Tags: the black birds, black, birds, poeticon, regrets, regerts, biggest regrets, essay, story, dialogue, free verse, non-fiction

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