The sun was going down, and he had just finished his last cigarette. He stood outside of his house looking out at the neighborhood, watching the small neighbor kids and their pets scamper down the sidewalk, watching each car pass by with another droopy eyed employee coming home from another hard day of work. He was leaned up against his garage, wearing the clothes he woke up in: His jeans, an unbuttoned flannel and his oldest wife-beater.
The cracked asphalt was only getting worse with every car that passed, the grass was dying because he hadn’t bothered to water it anymore, mainly because he stopped paying the bill for water, and the paint on the front of his old mobile home was coming of flake by flake, just like Christmas snow.
The sun was just making it’s finally goodbyes to the houses below, the birds flew graciously past the sunset, silhouetted against the mix of orange and blue hues. He spit the ash residue off of his lips, threw the finished butt to the ground and walked back inside before the sun set.
He closed the door behind him and almost everything was hidden in the darkness. He pulled his lighter out of his pocket and lit the candle on his dining table. In the light he was able to see again, although there was no reason for him to want to.
The couch was torn completely to shreds; it was now just a contraption made of duct tape and plastic that his wife slept on if she ever came home late from work. The carpet was shaggy and light brown once, about fifty years ago, but now it was bald and crusty, with discolored splotches everywhere, some that even crawled up onto the walls. The counters were covered with grime, grease and junk, and there was an out line of a television on the wall that had recently burnt out. Everything else was either a screen window or a wall that was now pale yellow from the collected smoke that built up over the past years.
He stood in the light of the flickering candle, blocking it from reaching the rest of his house. He didn’t want to see where he was. He walked around looking for somewhere to sit, not wanting to sit on what was left of the couch but simultaneously not wanting to stand in his heap of garbage. So he sat up against the wall with his knees in his chest watching the candle slowly beat its flame against the walls.
He sat and he thought.None of this had ever bothered him before. He was completely comfortable with the way his life was. He knew from day one, that this would eventually be the place he would end up, and he braced himself for that. He grew up in this same sort of dump when he was a child and made the best of it then. Growing up he never tried, he never saw the point in trying. His life would never amount to anything, and he knew that, and he was comfortable with that. For his entire life he knew that this is what his future held for him: a crappy mobile home fit with a nothing-to-do lifestyle and an alienated family. He has been living with it for almost fifteen years now and not once did it ever bother him.
But, for some reason, now it did.
He woke up today, alone on the mattress in the back, and he was someone new. He sat up and looked at where he was as if it was for the first time, and he was miserable. It was as if something in the night had crawled in through the window and took his soul out of him and replaced it with a fresh one, one that had never been used before, one with new eyes and an innocent disposition. He was disappointed with all of the things that he had done, or hadn’t done, and the fact that he let himself amount to this. He woke up and cried for the first time in his life. Cried about who he was and what he was to become. He cried because of nothing.
He sat gazing into the candle, reflecting, looking for a way to go back and fix where he messed up, but there were too many holes in his stream of life, and even if it were possible to go back, there were to many things to be fixed. There wasn’t any hope left for him because he never gave himself any to start with, and he knew it. And he hated that he knew it.
A few hours passed before the candle finally flickered out. His wife wasn’t home yet, his daughter was out with some boy that he had never heard of, and neither one of them would be back until morning. The moon was now flowing in through the screens, filling the room with a muted brightness that highlighted the outlines of things, and he was still sitting on the ground, in the same spot, in the same position, cemented to the scenery. Silence roared. Everything was quiet. Nothing outside was moving, the air stopped moving within the space, and his heartbeat was no longer audible. Everything went dead, and he was there. But then it happened.
He stood up, slowly stretching out his creaky muscles and straightened out. He looked out beyond his crappy little house and beyond the walls of the dumpy trailer park, and beyond his surroundings, he saw a light shining bright in the distance. He saw his hope calling out to him.
Before he knew it, he was already rushing down his street, briskly waking in the moonlight towards the exit of the park. The fresh night air ran across his face, and for the first time in ages, he was able to breath again. He crossed between the open gates of the dumpy park, and without looking back he said out loud “Wish me luck” and took off down the dirt road into the moonlight, letting his open flannel flow in the wind, hopping that he would never find his way back here again.