Photo Challenge — The Other Option

Stephen walked out of the courthouse, turned and faced the concrete wall, and leaned into it, touching it only with his forehead. His arms were straight down at his sides and he was standing on the balls of his feet, his heels slightly elevated. It was an awkward position to stand in, but with the way things had been going in his life, it seemed fitting to him.

The family court judge had just granted full custody of his two children to his ex-wife. It was not unexpected, though. Stephen had recently lost his job. Been fired, actually, when he failed a random drug test. He thought he had his drug habit under control, but it was clear to his ex and to the judge that that was not the case.

Because of the restraining order his ex had filed, the judge had suspended Stephen’s visitation rights pending completion of a 30 day stay at the county drug rehabilitation center. So it would be at least a month before Stephen could see his young son and daughter again.

He felt the rough concrete surface of the courthouse wall digging into the skin on his forehead, but he didn’t mind the pain all that much. At least it reminded him that he was still alive. He was tired of the numbness he’d been feeling of late. Better to feel pain than to feel nothing, he thought.

After a few minutes of standing in that position, Stephen’s calf muscles began to cramp from standing nearly tip-toed. He used his arms to push away from the wall and he stumbled over to a bench and sat down. He had 24 hours to grab what he needed and to check-in at the rehab facility. Otherwise, the judge had warned him, a bench warrant would be issued and he would be arrested.

Stephen wondered, given the state of his life, if it would be better for everyone if he wasn’t around. But he also knew that no matter how bleak things were, he didn’t have it in him to take his own life. So his only real option was to go to the center, get clean, get his shit together, and prove to the judge, his wife, his kids, and mostly to himself that he could be a better man.

But there was another option. Stephen reached into his pocket for his cellphone and tapped a number. Maybe feeling nothing is better, after all, than feeling all of the emotional pain, he thought. When the guy he called answered, Stephen said, “Hey, it’s Steve. You around? I need some blow. Yeah, like right now.”

Written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge. Image found on Unsplash.