If you’re just tuning in, you can get caught up on Garren’s story here. If you’re all caught up, or have been following along, here’s the next installment.
Garren stepped out of his car and shielded his eyes against the sun. Again he wondered why he’d let himself drink so much. His eyes watered against the glare of the sun, and his head pounded. It was still early so he’d probably be able to find his father in the barns. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to though. He knew his father would recognize the symptoms. He’d had more than one lecture about drinking too much. He really didn’t want another.
Instead, he turned toward the house. He didn’t usually get judgment from his mother.
He stepped into the kitchen, and she turned from the sink. Her smile instantly faded. “Oh, Garren, what did you do?”
“What makes you think I did anything?” He asked, but slumped into a chair at the table.
She didn’t answer him. “Is your head hurting? Did you already take something?”
“It’s fine, Mom. I’m fine,” he said when she came toward him. “I met Kyle, Geoff, and Ginny for a couple drinks last night. I just had one too many. I’m fine. It’ll pass.”
She stepped back, but he could still see the worry on her face. Maybe he should have just gone to see his father. The lecture would have been better than this. He heard heavy steps on the porch and cringed. Never mind. Dealing with his father’s lecture and mother’s worry all at once were the worst possible outcome. He should have just stayed home.
He dropped his forehead into one hand as the door swung open. “Elizabeth,” his father said as soon as he stepped inside, “I saw Garren’s car. Is he-?”
Either she had stopped him, or he had seen Garren sitting at the table because he stopped mid-sentence. The silence that followed was almost smothering. “I hope you didn’t drive in that condition.”
The words sounded hard, but when he looked up, his father’s face was tight with worry. “I’m not drunk, Dad. Just a little hungover. And I was fine last night when I drove home.”
That only made his father’s face pull even tighter. “You shouldn’t drive when you’ve even had one drink. Are you ever going to learn that? Or am I going to have to bury you too?”
Garren sucked in a breath. His grandfather. He’d never met the man because he’d demolished his truck against a brick wall, killing himself in the process, more than a year before Garren was born. “Dad-”
His father stopped him with with a wave of his hand. Then, he ran that same hand over his face. “No. I’m sorry. I really wish you wouldn’t drink so much though, Garren. I really wish you wouldn’t drink at all.”
His stomach twisted and turned. Was his father trying to say he was an alcoholic? No, he couldn’t think that, could he? “I was just having a good time with some friends, Dad. It’s not like I do it all the time.”
“No, just a little too often. What are you going to do if it costs you your job?”
His face blanched at the question. “That’s not gonna happen, Dad. I have it all under control.”
His father was silent for a moment then he turned away. “Is lunch ready, Elizabeth?”
“Almost.” She rested her hand on his shoulder for a moment then turned toward the counter. “I hope you’ll stay too, Garren.”
He cast a look at his father then turned his attention back to her. “Of course. Better than whatever I’d fix.”