I hadn't noticed that my dad's snores had ceased in my bedroom. I turn around to see him holding a stack of bills from the mail. Bills from the If I don't open them, they don't exist pile that usually stay under the radiator.
"Why are they addressed to Troy Holden at Apartment 221 of Dreamwood Terrace when you live in the penthouse?"
I freeze. Every sound seems louder. I swear I can hear the train whistling through the woods behind Dreamwood Terrace. I'm no damn actor and there's no point continuing this charade. I take a deep breath and tell him everything.
His face is like melting candle wax that sags and drips with disappointment and confusion. He is silent for three minutes and six seconds before he looks up and growls, "Well you better get a degree if you want to write for a living."
"Dad there's no way Princeton will let me back in to-"
"There's that community college down the street. You could-"
"There's no way I'm going to a fucking community-"
"I am too good for a community college filled with idiots who can't even get into a real university!"
"And I can't even afford air conditioning! How am I going to pay for-"
"I will pay for it."
I don't know what to say. Thank God my dad's phone rings and he answers.
The candle wax melts even more. He puts the phone down."Robert jumped." I am clueless about how to respond. His face is completely expressionless.
"But you're Robert."
"Robert Smith. The other one."
I'd heard my dad talk about the other Robert, his best friend.
"Troy. I need to go. A nurse is picking me up"
I nod and open the door. He leaves without either of us saying anything else.
I sigh and run my hands through my hair, grabbing it in fists which pulls my forehead back until it hurts. I need a drink. I shove my feet into my blue socks worn at the soles and pull on the closest shoes.
Walking down the street to O'Harley's, I stop dead.
In the wall of the alley, blue graffiti reads "You killed her."
My legs give out and I lean against the bricks, gasping for breath. I slide to the ground. "I didn't I didn't I didn't I didn't-" Some change lands at my feet. I glare up at the figure passing. "What the hell!? Do you think I'm a fucking hobo!? Are you literally so stupid that you-"Oh Christ.
Bonfire girl. Graveyard girl. Hope is the thing with feathers girl. Her eyes widen and threaten to spill.
"I am so sorry- I thought-" I start. Too late. She pivots on her heel and is gone. I am seriously the hugest asshole.
Turning to look into the window of the Sunny Side Up diner I see my undoubtedly homeless looking reflection. I haven't shaved in about a week and the stubble in coming in unevenly like a patchwork quilt. I have deep indigo circles under my eyes and I am pretty sure I smell like death. Now I really need a drink.
"Eleven in the morning's a little early for whiskey isn't it?" says Rick when I slump down at the bar.
I send daggers with my eyes and he raises his eyebrows and begins pouring.
After spending all my earnings from the past week on cheap booze I stumble out onto the sidewalk and into a woman with glassy orb eyes framed with wrinkles. She clasps my hand in both of hers and hisses, "It will open like a blooming tulip."
"Your world. The you will realize that you are not the center of it."
I shake her off and walk to work at Christine's Cupcakes with my head down, not looking back, just like always.