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  • It was after he drank the dry cleaning fluid that I gave up.

    My mother was at work, he’d come home drunk. I was doing homework in my bedroom when he came in. There was crying, I came down to see what was wrong this time.

    There he was, blubbing and sobbing, bleach bottles out from underneath the kitchen sink, he’d drunk from those and from a small glass bottle of dry cleaning fluid someone had given us to get a stain out of a jacket or something. It was nearly empty. He swallowed the last drop in front of me, and I went out to the hall to call my mother.

    He followed me out to the hallway, collapsed on the floor before I could dial. Phone in hand, I called for an ambulance instead and then just sat on the stairs, looking at him on the floor. I didn’t care anymore. I’d just seen too many shenanigans since the age of 7 years old. He always came through them in one piece. We always came though them exhausted. I was fourteen now. The shock value didn’t work so well on me. The self pity didn’t make me feel pity for him, just pity for myself in having to listen to it. I was just tired. Tired of never knowing if I’d get to sleep at night or if there’d be some kind of drama to wake us from our beds. He wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t a violent drunk, just an attention seeking one. I just couldn’t give any more of my energy to him. That night, I came up empty.

    I let the ambulance men take him. I didn’t go along to the hospital. I had told my mother what happened she was leaving where she was to go see him. I went back to my homework. Then I went to bed.

    Sure enough, five hours later he’d discharged himself from hospital and was back home. An air of self-pity hung over the house for a few days. Within a week he was out drinking alcohol again. Mum thought he might not have really drank those things under the sink, that it was a show of self pity or self loathing. I didn’t much care, it was just another in a long line of incidents that were unnecessary to my young life. As I’d shut the door behind the ambulance men I’d felt only relief that he was out of the house and I didn’t have to pretend to give a shit. I’d had enough of being disturbed and manipulated. He could drink or not drink whatever he wanted, it would be none of my business.

    Next time, I told myself, I’d just step over him and leave him where he lay.

    I was done.
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