Trigger warning; abandonment, suicidal thoughts
character background: Sheriff, Carter Johnson
belongs to: Devil's Peak / alt. D.P.

Coming home to an empty house wasn’t worth the effort. The silence and emptiness joined their forces and sat on my chest, as soon as I opened the entrance door. I had to fight the urge to turn around and run. To. Just. Sigh. To give up everything and vanish from the face of the earth.

What could I do? Saddle up and go back to the office? I already worked my way through all the left-over paperwork my deputies couldn’t be bothered to submit. I bought supplies for the kitchen and the office. Cleaned up my desk, the fridge, the kitchen, the coffee machine, the cells, the archive. Ordered ammo, made this year’s inventory. Maybe I should start the cold cases.

Who was I kidding? I ran out of tasks. I ran out of excuses not to go home, not to think of my wife and children, not to think that I fucked up so badly, that she tore my babies from me. Not to think that they rightfully abandoned me… That I was the face of evil in their lives, even if it had been an accident. I couldn’t take any of it back.

I’d give anything to be able to.

I couldn’t sleep much. Since Gina left with my daughters, I wasn’t the same careless man. She took Michelle and Mia with her and I wandered the house by night, like a ghost. Everybody told me I looked like one anyway. Like shit. Sick. Dying…

I took a week off, to lick my wounds. All the questions pissed me off. How I was feeling? Like I got my heart torn out and stomped on. Like I deserved to be taken behind a shed and shot like a dog. How was I doing? Before I let my fists speak, I went home. I hid from the world to stop myself from doing something stupid.

At home, I did all the crazy things I needed to, without anybody asking stupid questions. Without anybody stopping me, cleaning up the cut and bruises I got while punching walls and furniture. I wrecked the garage, the living room, and the parent’s bedroom for good measure. At least, it made me tired. It made my arms and legs ache, like a ten-mile run. Then I drank all the liquor in the house, with the TV noises keeping me company.

I had some calls from concerned colleagues or neighbors. I didn’t pick up. Let their worries straight onto the answering machine. “Speak to the tape your uneasy words.”

Three days later, Peterson showed up at my back door. Damn straight, I wouldn’t have let him in, even if he was beating down the front door. But he knew that and let himself in. He might have knocked, I couldn’t tell. My head was somewhere else, contemplating the eternal darkness I wanted to medicate myself with. I simply forgot that I hadn’t locked that one door. He surprised me while I was about to eat my gun. I was testing the feel of it. That dumbass tackled, disarmed, and pinned me to my filthy living room floor. I had that coming. He told me to push through. I still had my daughters. What will they think of me abandoning them? How will they feel, when he’d need to tell them that their old man just gave up?

What Peterson didn’t know, they weren’t thinking of me, they never would. They were too small to understand what was going on, but Gina and her family would make sure that they forgot me.

I didn’t have the strength to tell him. I couldn’t even answer, just sob. But I gave him my gun and the boxes of ammo I had. After that, he made sure to seize the sharp objects I could use on myself, not leaving without my promise to wait for him with another coffee. He even put me into the shower and cleaned up a bed. I slept that night. Relief hit me like a bat to the back of the head, and for once, I slept like a dead man.

In the morning, I had the coffee ready when he came by with a hearty breakfast from the diner. My first word to him was a question. “Why?” Why did he bother?

“You’d do the same for me.” And easy as that, I felt a smile reaching my face. He grinned around a mouthful of scrambled eggs. The waffles and the bacon tasted like mana. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten. We finished the rest of the meal in silence. Peterson stretched out his palm, before leaving my house. “Promise.”

I hesitated just a heartbeat, then shook his hand. It was hard, and it hurt, but I made an effort to speak clearly. “I promise not to kill myself. Today.” Those words felt like glass shards moving through my throat. We locked eyes.

He shrugged. “Good enough.” He’d come by after his shift.


featured image: by author

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