Jack leaned forward, forearms resting on his knees, gaze glued to the floor. “I didn’t mean to.”
“Yes you did.”
Jack snorted and shook his head. Convincing him wouldn’t be easy. He’d see through Jack’s bullshit and demand the truth. Lies were useless.
“It was an accident,” Jack said.
“No it wasn’t.”
Jack flinched as the words slid through his mind. The truth sat lodged in his gut- heavy and toxic.
The truth will set you free. Jack chuckled, or it might just fucking kill you.
“You think this is funny?”
“No.” Jack reached for the Marlboros on the coffee table. “It’s not funny.” Flipping open the lid, he grimaced at the lone cigarette tucked inside with his Bic. He contemplated saving it for later, then tilted the box. The contents slid into his shaking hand. “I could use a drink,” he mumbled against the cigarette pressed between his lips.
“That’s what got you here in the first place.”
Thick smoke filled his lungs, stinging slightly when they reached capacity. He exhaled through his nose and flicked the butt with his thumb, more out of habit than necessity. One more pull and his nerves would be steady. More or less.
“Why’d you do it?”
“It was a fucking accident!” Jack rubbed a hand across his forehead, fending off the coming headache. “I didn’t mean to.”
“Bullshit, Jack. You know what happened. The same thing that always happens.”
Jack’s temper flared at the cool confidence of the statement, but he knew he was right. Jack had never been able to lie to him.
Why did you do it?
Squeezing his eyes shut, Jack could still see her there. Cowering in the corner. Tears streaming down her face. Cradling the broken child in her arms.
A sobering image.
He’d fled the room, slamming the door shut behind him. But the muffled sobs had followed him down the hall. He could still hear them now.
Jack concentrated on the next drag from his cigarette, watching the smoke stream from his lips and curl through the air. The truth. He couldn’t bring himself to admit it- not even to himself.
“I have to go.”
“Of course you do. That’s what you do best.”
Jack headed for the door, kicking the coffee table out of his way as he went.
“You can run, Jack, but you can’t run from me.”
He was right. He was always right.
You can’t outrun yourself.