Harold cringed at the mess he’d made. There was milk and cereal all over the floor, the carpet and the edge of the couch. He picked up the cereal bowl and found the spoon wedged under the TV stand. He returned to the kitchen, back to where the argument started and grabbed some paper towels from the counter. He hurried back to the living room to sop up as much of the milk as he could before it set or got sticky or did whatever it is that milk does when you spill it on stuff. Thankfully it was only a corn flake cereal and nothing with crazy fruit combinations or giant marshmallows. Cody didn’t care for overly sugared cereal.
It was a long time coming for Harold, the mess he’d made. He could tell Cody hadn’t been happy for a while now and she was doing her best to put on a brave face in front of their friends. She worked a lot of hours at the hospital these days while Harold struggled to just find a job. He’d been laid off from his job as a supervisor at the Coffee Copy. A combination Coffee shop and copy service. Harold thought he had it on easy street there until management realized the reality of a paperless society. They closed four months after opening. Cody said Harold could live with him until he got back on his feet and he moved in that very week. That was 19 months ago.
This morning Cody started in on him about shaving. He hadn’t shaved in nearly three weeks and his facial hair was getting terribly unruly. She also mentioned the College tee-shirt he’d been wearing constantly for the past four days. He just didn’t feel like changing it. It was comfortable, even if it did have a big mustard stain on the front. She nagged and nagged and nagged at him about all the things he was doing wrong and his only response was to hurl the cereal bowl across the room and stand there chewing the last mouthful with his arms crossed across his chest.
Cody had it and grabbed her keys and stormed out of the apartment leaving Harold to look down at his bare feet. He’d made a mess out of it all. Two nights earlier he’d accused her of cheating on him, even though deep down inside he knew it wasn’t her. She wasn’t cheating on him. She cried and pleaded and swore up and down that she’d never do something like that to him, that she loved him. Harold felt like a monster, manipulating her feelings that way just so he could have something to feel good about.
Harold cleaned up the rest of the cereal and put his thrown bowl in the sink and leaned against the counter. He saw his own reflection in the glass of the cabinet face and realized what a total wad of poop he’d been. He’d been so lazy and careless with Cody. He’d just made the naive assumption that she’d always be there to take care of him. He closed his eyes and listened to his heart beating fast and hard in his chest. He’d hit the bottom of this relationship and knew it was time to stop being a sponge and get back on his own. The first thing to do was to shave. Cody was right, he looked like an ugly bear with shit matted in his fur. He cringed at the thought of shaving it all off and how much he’d probably cut his face up with the razor. But sometimes, restarting your life comes with a little bloodletting.