A terrible pain splintering through his skull jarred him from his self induced coma. Cursing as he shot up from his pillow wincing in pain, one hand rubbing the side of his head while the other blindly groped the disheveled pharmacy that was his bedside table spilling over dozens of others in his haste. Satisfied with the bottle he was able to grab hold of, the cap flew off with one flick of his thumb and an indiscriminate amount was slugged to the back of his throat while his free hand found the open whiskey bottle lying on its side on the floor by his bed. Filled with enough whiskey to provide the lubrication, he hastily chased the pills down.
Stumbling from his bed he made his way a few feet past the sheet-covered window to the bathroom where he fell upon the sink. His arms bracing himself as he lowered his head to the sink, one arm coming up to let loose some cold water from the faucet which he splashed on his face, his shirtless body revealed a story that some would prefer not to know.
His skin appeared to be all that was keeping his bones from falling in a heap to the floor. Bending over the sink, his spine looked as if it was about to pierce his skin. The large cross tattoo that spanned his shoulders and the length of his spine was fading like an old stain and had three small holes in it formed by the scars of healed skin.
The small circular window in the bathroom lit up from rays of the sun and cast a beam of light on the shoulder of his left arm highlighting the other tattoo he had on his body, which read “Fidelis” – the word that preceded made illegible by scars that appeared to have been caused by a burn.
At that moment his legs started to quiver and he collapsed to his knees feeling drowsiness begin to set in. “Damn pills!” he cried as his eyes welled up with tears. He fell forward onto his lap sobbing into his hands until he fell asleep sprawled out on the bathroom floor.
He woke from his deep sleep with a groggy moan. His eyes blinked open to the bathroom that was luminescent. He rubbed his eyes as he lay on the floor attempting to wipe away his blurred vision. A piercing high pitched ring reverberated in his head, until it dissipated and was replaced by what sounded like the soft voice of a young girl.
He turned his head to attempt to find the source, unable to resurrect his body at the moment. Glaring up, his sight began to clear and the brightness subdue he saw the body of a young girl silhouetted by the sun shinning through the window.
His vision still hazy and blinded by the sun, he squinted in an attempt to make out who it was.
“I heard your cries and came to see if you were alright,” the girl said to him. “You left the door open. You did some strange things while you slept.”
“Sometimes your body does what you don’t want it to do,” he replied as he struggled to his feet with the help of the little girl whose appearance was then revealed to him as he rose. She was a brown skinned, dark haired girl wearing a tattered blue dress laced with sand and dirt. Her piercing gaze stunned him and her wide intent eyes released a flutter of emotion from his heart.
“You scared me. I almost left,” she said in a lecturing tone that her father might have used.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to do that,” he said smiling, taking delight in the innocent interest the little girl had taken in him that made him fill renewed. “And I am certainly glad you didn’t or I might not have been able to get up. Will you forgive me?”
“Of course!” she said emphatically, giggling as if taken back by his inquiry. “You didn’t want to.”
He smiled while in disbelief of how the little girl, with her mere presence, seemed to retrieve his battered soul and deliver him from the depths of despair in which he had dwelt for so long. He felt as though he could hardly keep his feet on the ground. “Let’s get you home, your parents will be worried sick.”
“OK,” she said extending her hand still gazing at him intently. “I live just upstairs. I want you to meet my dad.”
And with that, he took the girl’s hand.
“Follow me,” she said.