Cigs and ash filled the beer bottle on the back porch.
It had been there long enough that the contents had become a thick, wet mush of grays and browns. The darkest color pooled at the bottom.
The glass was fogged. A crack, thin and elusive, drifted up the neck. The mouth had chipped and ruined.
The drink had once been savored, probably on a night just like this. A night where the sky was clear and open and you could hear the world breathe.
I don’t smoke. It had been his drink. These had once been his cigarettes.
I can still feel the impression of his body in the chair, and although I have grown to his height, I know that I can never, and will never, measure up.
The visage of him will never be found in me.
I am not him. I do not match. I do not measure to his shoulders, fit in his shoes, or fill his shadow. Where he had mastered, I have failed.
I trip over the memory of him.
It’s comical, really. I am built with the same mechanics; through my veins run the same blood, pumping full and strong, heated and red.
These hands were once as capable. My feet could have carried me down the same path had I half a brain to follow.
Apathy is my enemy and so the enemy is myself. Let the laughs roll.
Would he laugh now, seeing the bottle here, stuck to a table by its own waste? For years he has been dead, and yet his bottle has remained.
Weather wore off the label. I remember the brand, cheap and tasteless. A strange pick for a man who could afford any brand.
I know what he would say. I would be scolded. He would humiliate me for keeping the bottle, for even having humored the thought of his late-night breaks giving me any comfort.
I never cleaned his office. I never tossed his clothes, his books, or his glasses. All remain, immobile and rotting.
Time cannot reverse to that night but I hold to his vices. I keep his bottle and his ash. I pretend he sits beside me, having a beer and a smoke. Scolding me. I am the good son.
I could use a cigarette.