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Almost Ruining Christmas

March 2023​

John sweat prodigiously. His eyes flitted about like a paranoid bird. One could hardly say that words flashed through his head—it was more like pure animalistic instinct that occupied his mind. Occupied probably isn’t the best word either—his mind was in complete servitude to this feeling that gripped him whenever it saw fit. He was less than human during these episodes, just a neural soup carrying out orders. A singular focus consumed him. Only one thing could make it abate.


“John, I got your triple shot americano here.” John lurched for the drink, snatching it from the barista’s hand before the cup could even touch the counter. He took a hurried gulp, ignoring the scorching of his tongue as the hot liquid ran down his maw. A minute later, John was human again. His mind could form words, even sentences. He was loosed from the tyranny of the addict’s unassailable edicts. Only now did he remember he was at the airport, catastrophically late for his flight. He was traveling to see his kids in Atlanta for Christmas.


John made it through security twenty minutes prior, but found it necessary to wait in the six-person line at Starbucks rather than make a mad dash for his flight that was already boarding.


When he arrived at the gate, airline employees informed him that it was too late to board. He pleaded with them, saying that he needed to meet his kids for Christmas, that they would be stranded if he didn’t make the flight. Dad was talking now, brimming with compassion, with clear-headed pragmatism. Eventually, an employee who had radioed the plane received a response. They were permitted to reopen the doors.


She escorted him on board. “Another thirty seconds, you would have missed it. Merry Christmas.” John settled in on the plane. He breathed a deep sigh of relief at the fact that he did not, indeed, just ruin Christmas. Soon, a cold bead of sweat traced the left side of his face. His heart rate quickened. He grew pale. He sank to lower forms of consciousness. Sentences in his head turned to words, which distilled further to instincts. The flight attendant came around, offering refreshments. “Anything to drink, sir?” she asked.


“Yea, a cup of coffee, please.”

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