I started my day like any other. I woke up, grabbed some coffee, showered, walked the dog—all the usual things. Nothing was out of the ordinary. I had received a call from work the previous day saying that I would be receiving a raise and a new position on the worker hierarchy. I couldn’t wait to start my work today so that I could get my paycheck and give my family something nice. My job was never a great one in financial terms, and we were just scraping by as it was. With this raise, we could have fun like a normal, sitcom family. The American Dream. I gave my still-asleep wife a small peck on the cheek and went on my way. I hopped into my car and drove as fast as legally possible down the streets lining my city until I got to work. I couldn’t wait to start. I really couldn’t.

My day starts at 6:00 AM and ends at 6:00 PM. I work 11 hours straight, with a one hour lunch break. Unfortunately, however, my day as a new position was monotonous and boring. I had hoped that it would be more fun, I brainwashed myself into thinking it would be better. It wasn’t. I couldn’t do more than two or three things, and the workers in my department were lazy and unmotivated. I tried everything I could to lighten up the mood, but, ultimately, everything failed. I guess my misguided happiness from earlier had worn off already and I was dreading the next day. After I got my last round of labor done, I checked out, got in my car, and drove to my house.

I arrived home, my kids and my dog all eager to see me. I have four kids—Martin, Lacy, Alex, and Leon, ages five, seven, eight, and eleven, respectively—and a Pomeranian named Fluffy. Lacy named him that. My wife, Donna, had prepared dinner an hour or so ago, and the kids were already full. She had a small plate left for me—“Sorry, dear, Leon was especially hungry today…”—and I ate it ravenously. I’ve never seen a dish of pasta disappear so fast. The rest of my day was spent filing papers and bookwork for my office and watching some TV with the family. At around 9:00, I put the kids to bed. Leon got to stay up until 9:30, and so we watched some Wall-E together. When he got to bed, it was only Donna and I that were still up. We retreated to our bedroom and watched some Tarantino, and then we both got ready for bed. I went to the restroom to finish up my day, and fell asleep.

I woke up late the next day, my alarm clock blaring in my ear for the third time. I had to drastically cut back on my shower time, and squeezed past my hygiene time. I stayed in the bathroom for a second before feeling an incredible rush of happiness and euphoria. I felt my heart beating faster, and I practically zoomed out the door and into my car off to work. I rocked my car back and forth while I was driving; I was so cheerful and enthusiastic. When I got to the office, my happiness was still there, and I had a renewed vigor to do my paperwork with.

The other attendants at my station were confused, and rightfully so. Yesterday was a different man than what was in my place today. I was way too happy.

When I got off work and drove home, I was shaky. All the work I had done and the happiness I had had worn off slowly, leaving me feeling like an empty, dead husk. I had difficulty driving home, and all I wanted to do was just flop down on my bed and go to sleep.

I got home what felt like days later. My kids and wife and dog were all happy to see me, but I told them I wasn’t in the mood and to go shove off. My kids didn’t know what that meant, but they got the message, and quit badgering me. Leon felt offended, but I would set him straight in the morning. My wife was concerned more than anything, as she knew I had never come home this irritated. I told her it was nothing and to leave me the hell alone. I went to sleep soon after.

I woke up to the feeling of my wife pushing me and whisper-shouting in my ear. I woke up quickly, my mouth dry and devoid of feeling. I asked her what was going on and she said it was 9:17. I was over three hours late.

I rushed out the door, my pants not even fully zipped, and drove to work. When I got there, my boss was really curious to know why I was so late. He regarded me as a model worker and a star one at that, and didn’t know what caused this. I told him I didn’t hear my alarm clock at all, and he didn’t seem to approving. He put me on a sort of probation, and that was the end of that. 

I labored throughout the rest of the day extra hard to make up for the three hours I had missed. When it was finally time to leave, my boss wanted to speak with me. I sat down in his office and immediately felt jittery and itchy. I didn’t want to do anything rash, so I sat through his lecture and answered his question quickly. He said he was very disappointed in me and expected me to be at the top of my form tomorrow. I told him I would be, which didn’t seem too convincing to him. Ultimately, I told him my wife was at home with the kids and probably needed my help, and he let me go after that.

As soon as I got in my car, I started scratching like there was no tomorrow. I scratched and scratched. It felt amazing. It felt like every mosquito in the world had bitten me, and it felt like such an amazing feeling to scratch their bites. So I scratched some more. And more. When I was finally finished scratching, I was bleeding in a few spots, my nails caked with the dark liquid. I was shocked at myself that I let myself scratch until I had really hurt myself. I put some tissues on the wounds and drove home, my jittery feeling gone.

When I arrived home, I hugged my kids and my wife, and gave Fluffy a treat. I told them all that I was very tired yesterday and I didn’t know why, and that I just wanted some quiet time. They were understanding of me and were all happy that their father was back and not some ogre who only wanted to sleep.

I went to the bathroom, putting bandages on my cuts. While I was in there, I noticed I was breaking out in a few places. I put some of Leon’s acne cream on my face and left it at that. I watched some more TV with my family and convinced them to play some Frisbee with me. We all had fun from that game of Frisbee, and when we came back in, we were all tired. I put the kids to bed and went back up to my room with Donna. We talked a bit about how our day went, and then went to sleep, exhausted.

I woke up in the middle of the night, my wife sound asleep beside me, to feel that something was inside my mouth. I rose quickly, my stomach feeling queasy. I dashed into the bathroom and threw up, my stomach coming to a crescendo. As I wiped my mouth and prepared to flush the toilet, I saw something white and oblong floating in the soupy mixture. It looked… well, it couldn’t be, of course, but it looked like a tooth. I ran my tongue through my mouth to see if it was truly a tooth—sleepiness had its grip on me—and, rest assured, no teeth were lost. I flushed the toilet and took some Pepto. I also put on another layer of acne cream. After that, I went back to bed, my stomach feeling fine.

I woke up on time the next day, got ready as usual, and left for work. When I got to work, some coworkers asked me if I was alright. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but they all said the same thing: “Look, you’re missing your canine.” Hysteric, I rushed to the bathroom to see that I truly was missing my tooth. The previous night dawned on me, and my eyes started to water. What could’ve caused this? 

I wiped my eyes and went back to my station, fabricating a lie that I had it knocked out at the dentist’s the previous day because it was full of plaque. Some workers bought the story, but others didn’t, citing that I had made no mention of any appointment yesterday. To hell with them.

In the middle of the day, I got a call from Donna. She said she was feeling sick and wanted to know where the Pepto was. I knew we had some, but I told her that we had no Pepto, and that I would bring some home after work. She told me she would take some Tums instead, but I told her we had no Tums either. She hung up the phone, sounding nauseous and unsettled.

When I got off work, I picked up the Pepto and Tums for her. When I got back, I told the kids that their mother wasn’t feeling good. They accepted it and stayed away from her for the rest of the day. I told Donna not to put the medicine in the cabinets in the bathroom and to leave them by her end table if she needed them. She said thanks for being thoughtful and asked me to go to our room. I complied.

She locked the door and asked me what happened to my teeth. I told her I didn’t know, and that I lost it last night when I threw up for some reason. She said she was worried about me because I’ve also been losing weight. I told her not to worry, and that we shouldn’t go to a doctor for this. They cost too much and they do too little. I told her that I could cope without one tooth, and that I could tell my coworkers I got knocked out by Mike Tyson or something. She feigned laughing but was still visibly worried about me. I told her to go to sleep because her stomach must be killing her.

She didn’t listen to me, and kept pushing me about what was going on. I kept on telling her nothing was happening, but she didn’t care about my excuses. She kept badgering me and badgering me, and making me angrier and angrier as time went on. At the height of our argument, I did something I was very proud of at the time, but not too much now: I slapped her and told her to go to sleep. She started bawling her eyes out, which made me madder, and I slapper her again. She said she was going to call the police on me, and I told her that it was okay for her to. I was self-destructive because I was so mad. I told her to call the SWAT or the FBI, and to tell them I was a terrorist. She cried and cried.

I woke up the next day and went to work immediately. I didn’t say hello to the kids or my wife at all, I was still steaming from yesterday. I worked and worked, angrily at that, and, I have to admit, got a lot more work done that day than any other day. My coworkers were concerned, but I told them to back the hell away and to leave me alone. They did just that. The time came for me to leave work and go back home. I loitered around the office a bit, but ultimately had to go. I hopped in my car and drove back home.

When I got back home, the house was quiet; unusually so. There was no activity from inside, no TV or Fluffy barking. No sound at all. I entered and called out to my kids and my wife, but I got no response. I looked around to see if she left me a note on the nightstand telling me she fled the state with the kids and Fluffy and that she was divorcing me, but I found nothing. I figured they went out to eat somewhere, and I went back to the entryway to my house.

As soon as I left the house, I felt a large force hit me square in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me. In a blind fury, I started to flail around at whatever was on top of me. I felt my arms being drawn back behind me and some grunting, and found I couldn’t move my arms. Suddenly, a shadow was over my body. It was a sheriff. He looked down at me in disgust and grunted, “Todd Bishop, you are being arrested on account of domestic violence and possession and use of methamphetamines.”

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