"Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning."
- Joseph Campbell
By: Cody Bitler
My breath appeared on the window as a fogged circle, shrinking as I inhaled, only to grow again. The sphere pulsed like my heart, calm and steady. A light snowfall powdered over Moscow in a flurry of twirling flakes—the wind dancing with it until they found their place somewhere over the landscape. The lights of Moscow was shining like a beacon, light towered into the ghostly clouds, proudly declaring its position in the world…I think. It’s kind of hard to see anything with the grid of bars on my window.
I sank back down into my bed, closing my curtain securely after making certain my window was locked shut. It was quiet in the house, still. A mumbled television sang in through my closed door. I could almost hear the gentle moan of metal springs as my mother rocked in the recliner my father “bought” a few years ago. A dog was howling timidly a few houses down; the nearby highway was bellowing with the cry of rubber tires flying over the salted asphalt. This was how I wish my life always was—tranquil. Composed.
Just then, the front door slammed opened as heavy boots stormed into the house. Father’s thick over coat ruffled like wet gravel as he fought to hang it up. Finally, I heard it hit the ground as he growled “You do it” to my mother. He must have lost the game of poker (not like he ever won) down at the bar a few streets over. That was another paycheck, gone to someone he probably does not even know. The heavy footsteps found its way to the hall, echoing as father walked pasted the bathroom. The noise stopped before light came flooding into my room. I saw through the crack of my eyes that he was stumbling where he stood—fighting to stand upright. Finally he walked away, leaving my door open. With the footfall of a cat, my mother walked down the hall, closing my door with a sigh, and continuing after my father. I do know what she was thinking. He’s drunk! I wanted to call out. Don’t!
But she did.
Their door closed with a click, then the voices started. There was a whisper…my mother, asking about how much he lost. There was a belch...my father, telling her to leave him alone.
“My head is killing me,” he moaned.
Then there was the more stern voice of my mother, now demanding to know.
I imagined my father waving her off, heard him tell her to turn off the lights. But my mother stood her ground.
She yelled now, “Melor!” I could understand her worry, her rage. He usually would tell her. “Oh, it was only six thousand,” or “’Just a bottle of rum and a thousand.” Father, however, didn’t understand. All he knew was that his head was shooting with pain, the lights were still on, and his wife wouldn’t “shut up.”
With the push of a bull and the slam of the door, my mother was in the hallway—three bruises developing on her skin. She walked past my door, her shadow moving past the crack between my door and the floor. The hall light clicked out—leaving my mother’s cry to echo through the darkness unseen, but not unheard.That was strike one.