Farah, the wake up call
When I heard the news about Farah’s step-dad, I walked out on my job with very little explanation and caught the first flight to Seattle. An accident with pills, they said. He was taking so many different kinds, on top of the booze, that it’s really hard to say if it was intentional or not.
Farah had helped me through a hard time years before, soon after I’d come out of a coma only to learn that I’d been responsible for the death of my cousin. If it hadn’t been for her support, I don’t think I could’ve made it through. I owed her one, to be sure—though I also knew better than to think that friends should ever keep score.
Farah’s step-dad looked after her when her mom was off with other men, drinking whiskey and snorting lines. It wore him down over time. Eventually, he figured, if he couldn’t beat her, why not join her? This was after Farah had moved out, though; he remained a stand-up father figure in her mind, the only man who ever did right by her.
Seeing her there in the kitchen I was nearly brought to my knees by her sadness. It was so heavy in the room that I felt like I would pass out.
“I just want you to know,” I said, “If there’s anything I can do. . .”
She nodded slightly, staring blankly at the wall. I knew she’d appreciate my presence after the fact, but for the moment, it was as if I wasn’t even there. I tried a couple of times to get her to talk but it was no use. The only remedy for her would be time. Unfortunately, time screeches to a halt when you’re heartbroken.
I kept her company for a couple hours, then said goodbye, touching her softly on the hand.
“Thanks for coming, Knox,” she said.
Driving away that night I was filled with a desire to speed my rental car off a cliff. I was possessed with the urge. I let go of the wheel and began to drift—only to come to my senses at the very last second, wrestling the wheel back as I slid off the road. The car spun around twice, coming to an abrupt stop just at the edge, teetering above a steep drop into the river.
My heart racing, I wondered what it was that unhinged me so—Farah’s impenetrable sadness, or the realization that, at that point in my life, if I was to have crashed and died, there wasn’t a soul in this world that would feel for me so deeply as Farah felt for her step-father. My life, to date, wasn’t worthy of death. Much as I wanted to give up, I had to keep trying.
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