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#152: Swayed

#152: Swayed
Odd Spot - The Age - 12/07/2022

Peter gulped the cool water. He could see his own reflection in the darkened kitchen window. Looking back was the ghost of his future, a middle-aged man developing a pudgy gut. These midnight wakings were destroying his ability to focus.

He was sure this was how he looked to anyone who cared to take any notice of him.
The tiny squeak of a key turning the front door alarmed him. Everyone should be asleep.

Peter slide across the tiles to the hallway.

The front door slowly slid open and Matilda tiptoed inside. She held her shoes in one hand and she carefully, skilfully, closed the door without making a huge amount of noise.

She took a deep breath in, relieved to have made it inside. Peter saw her relax. The kitchen door was a couple of metres from the entrance and he waited until she bent down to place her sneakers down to slide out.

Matilda inhaled in fright, covering her mouth to suppress any sensation, to scream at the sight of her father's ghost standing right in front of her.

Peter could smell the beer and of sex. It was a familiar musky scent, and he pinched his nose. This was one smell he didn't want to smell on his daughter.

You smell of drunkenness; he whispered.

She swayed and smiled.

He remembered times when he'd come home her age. Once his mother caught him and he was sure she could smell sex on him, but all she did was comment on the smell of whiskey. Back then, all he wanted was something to eat, but she sent him to bed to sleep it off.

Do you want something to eat?

She swayed, nodded her head, and smiled.