It’s Sunday. I have a fishing trip planned later that day with some friends later today, so I’m particularly excited.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I saunter towards the bathroom and hunch over the sink and wash my face. I hesitate, but I still end up looking at the mirror. I can’t help but wonder where my years went. Not that I have to wonder, but I try not to think about it.
Seven years. I spent seven years drifting around without a place to call home.
I stumble away from the mirror before I let myself remember. I have another two hours before I have to leave, so I head into the kitchen for breakfast. I don’t eat much at this time of the day, but I know a bit of oatmeal will do me well later, so I prepare some at a leisurely pace. I’m in no rush. I sit at the table once I’m done and bring the first spoon to my mouth. I blow on it to cool it, but it’s still hot when I try to swallow.
Somehow it all feels like a lie.
And that’s not surprising. It shouldn’t have turned out this way. People like me don’t get second chances. That’s not to say I never tried, but it’s hard when you’re on your own. Although if I’m being honest, I came close once. I had a place to stay and an under the table job at a local warehouse. But when Frank died, that all fell apart. Naturally, I thought that was it for me.
“Brick by brick, you can rebuild yourself,” he would say to me. I’ve never forgotten those words. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise then that on the 3rd anniversary of his deahth, I found myself halfway out of my mind at a tattoo parlour asking to have it permanently struck on my skin. A tribute, and a reminder. The poor guy must have felt sorry for my pathetic ass, because he didn’t even ask to be paid. He even offered to drop me home.
I assume I must have messed up the directions. Or maybe I just forgot what park I called home at the time, because he dropped me off an empty lot in the suburbs. I remember stumbling around until I tripped. As I tried to reorient myself to great difficulty, I realized that the object I had missed was none other than a brick. I picked it up and contemplated bashing my head in, but lifting my arms that high was not an option for me at the time. Instead, I floundered towards the center of the lot.
What I found looked to be the foundations of a building, along with a bucket of still-wet mortar and trowel. Even I understood what needed to be done.
Much to my surprise however, when I was finished, I found a bill under the bucket. I happily stuffed it into my pocket and stumbled to the place I was sleeping at the time. After a rough night, like always, I awoke with the sun and slightly more in control of my own mind. I barely remembered the previous night until I found the bill in my pocket and was shocked to realize it was a hundred dollar bill. But the real shock was the message written on it, “See you tomorrow.”
I assumed it had something to do with the tattoo parlour, but I spent all day trying to find it without success. As the sun set, I turned to the alternative and began to try to find the suburbs that I was dropped off at the night before. After several hours, I had made my way back.
And, as I both hoped and feared, there was a brick waiting for me on the ground.
It’s been many years since then, and I’ve never told a soul. Sometimes I wonder if I can take this secret to my grave, or if I can die without any answers about this mysterious benefactor. I try not to think about it as I walk out to my front yard and pick up the brick waiting for me, but at least I have a place to call home now.