By Published On: October 2nd, 20181031 words5.2 min read

The announcement informed the shoppers about the weekly discount. This week, it was fifteen percent off all sorts of cheese. Being a winter day, it was getting dark outside and there were only a few shoppers in the supermarket on the way home from work and chasing the corridors for food and drinks. He was also on the way back from work, but he would not call it a home. His dirty clothes suggested at his profession, as being a truck driver involved a lot of motor oil and dust. The tired look in his eyes, the unshaven face and the roughed up hair made everyone else avoid eye contact or the whole aisle if possible. He stood motionless in front of the liquor section in aisle four, one arm half raised. He was just about to take a bottle of whisky when somewhere in the supermarket a child started crying and screaming for his favorite candy. The mother obviously ignored it because it just kept screaming and stamping its foot on the ground. His hand froze in mid-air. His eyes continued to look at the whisky, but his gaze was vacant and suddenly he remembered his daughter scream, “You never play with me, daddy! Promises are all I get, but you are never home or awake when I want to go out and play badminton with you. Why can’t you just care about me for a change? Put away your bottle and go out into the garden with me, now!”, and then he heard an echo of his own response back then, “Daddy is tired. Give me five minutes of silence and then we can go.” What had happened then was something along the lines of, “I will never talk to you again. I hate you!”

He couldn’t see clear anymore and his vision blurred. His eyes started to water and tears ran down his face like leaking water taps. The smiling faces of his children spun around him, small kids with small wishes, before he had gone and destroyed it all. He had tried hard to be a good father, but he had never been good at taking responsibility for himself, let alone for four other people. Whisky was so good to him and he could forget all the trouble whenever he drank. He could never understand why anybody would want to take that from him just because they were jealous of his peace of mind. He wiped the tears off his face and straightened up. “I hate you!” echoed in his ears again and he turned around to look at the racks on both sides. “Nobody around, old man, you’re making this up. Now fetch that bottle and get the hell out of here,” he thought to himself and raised his hand again. His fingers closed around a bottle and he lifted it from the shelf. Suddenly, the speakers in the supermarket seemed to shout, “My father is dead, I don’t want to see you ever again.” The bottle slipped from his hand and it smashed to pieces on the floor with an ear piercing sound. Liquid splashed onto the shelves and his jeans and shoes. The janitor hurried into his aisle and asked him if he were not feeling well.

“I…I…I’m sorry. I never wanted. Forgive me!” he croaked and kneeled down to pick up the shattered bottle. He kept apologizing, never even realizing that there is someone next to him, trying to clean up the mess but instead he cut himself with the broken glass. The woman took his hand and told him to leave it. He backed away from her and stared at his bleeding hand as the blood ran down his clothes and onto the floor. Somebody screamed.

“Forgive me,” he stammered one last time and ran out of the shop and into the street. The cold was stinging his face and his hands started to feel numb, but the noise in his head wouldn’t stop. The street lights started spinning around him and he stumbled to a wall and slid to the ground. The pain in his hand was nothing compared to the pain in his head and lungs. He was panting, trying to chase the memories away but he couldn’t stop seeing his oldest daughter’s face in front of him, with hatred in her eyes and tears on her face. What had he done? It had been years since he last saw his kids and he had never seen it that way, but something had happened in that supermarket, bringing everything back again in a neon light. It was too bright, almost sterile like in hospitals. How come he had never seen that hatred in her eyes? He had thought it best to leave, for them and for him. All his mistakes were spread around him, like game cards with demonic faces for him to choose from. Where to start? What to do? “I lost them. I chose alcohol and short moments of oblivion over them. How could I hurt them so much?” he whispered to himself as he shook his head in disbelief. Cars with bright headlights drove back and forth on the parking lot, and passers-by looked at him, but he didn’t care. He made it into his truck and quickly put some cloth and bandage around his hand. All he had was his truck and then whiskey on the weekends. Maybe it had been the screaming child in the supermarket, or the extraordinary cold that had cleared his head, as if a decade old veil had been lifted. After a while his thoughts and eyes focussed on his hand. It had stopped bleeding, but it still hurt.

“I will make it stop,” he thought. “I will close it and let it heal again.”

He meant not only his hand. Although he had tried and failed to give up the whiskey before, he had a physical reminder now on the palm of his hand.

In 2018, Rossi Pfeifer released a collection of short stories titled Vienna in Short Stories. You can purchase it on Amazon. Follow Rossi on Instagram @litandpie.