Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined

A Glass of Guilt

By @jaymedunn

If I thought the world had ended, I was wrong.

This is the way my world ends.

Not by zombies

breaking down my door

or fires

burning fiercely throughout the streets.

My world ends with

warped metal

that once assumed the shape of a

cherry red, ‘95 Chevrolet Lumina.

A car that I once leapt out of every morning just to rush through open school doors and back into again,

A car that I used to secretly shove sticky candy wrappers into the ash trays of,

A car that I played the role of passenger in as my mother wildly scanned every bar parking lot in town looking for my dad.

A car

that ended its journey wrapped around a tree

with my father inside of it.

* * *

James Barr didn’t always skate through life around the rim of a liquor bottle.

There was a time where he looked forward

to bursting through the front door after work

eager to wrap his children in sweaty hugs

and plant kisses on his wife’s lips.

I vividly remember the bottoms of my feet hitting the exposed wood

on the inside of our trailer,

dancing to the strumming of guitar strings and his raspy voice.

His jam sessions were my favorite

because I’d get to

belt the lyrics of a song that I was oblivious to the real meaning of.

Afterwards, he’d gently set his guitar down,

sit me on his lap,

and plant kisses on my cheeks,

the iron stench of Bud Light on his breath.

He used to shine so bright –

like my own personal star –

and I watched all of him fade.

* * *

I always thought

that the alcohol was to blame.

Sentencing each bottle to death,

I would shatter each one

in the kitchen sink hoping that his love would come back

and whatever made him feel like he had to choose a bottle over his

own flesh and blood 

would fall down the drain.

His eye rolls felt like


His lukewarm whiskey spat into my face made me feel like

I was drowning.

His words, “fat *****” hit me like


I don’t know if he began to hate me

because I didn’t fight hard enough

against growing up

or if the liquor was always meant to destroy us.

* * *

The coroner

said his blood alcohol level

was at a frightening 0.15%

on the night that he wrapped his car around the tree.

As I look at his motionless body, it feels like I’m being submerged into icy water.

Frost runs through my veins.

The color white is everywhere.

I’m numb.

Fresh bruises frame his face and

his left eyelid,

now a deep purple,

bulges out from the rest of his features.


I bend down and plant a kiss on his forehead

where the quiet ignorance remains inside of the clouded mind of a battered man

who believes he still has time to make the right choice.

I rise,

mourning the father I could have had

if we had more time

and less mistakes.

I turn away just as his right eye begins to slowly open,

disorientation on his face from

medications with names clogged with consonants.

A nurse walks in

and I leave the haunted room an orphan of the afterlife,

not wanting to hear the story of a man

who chose his drink

over his daughter in the passenger seat.

Join the conversation

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
Post a comment
1 Like 0 Comments
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

Become a Book Nerd

When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.