After putting the kids to bed, Kolby came downstairs to find Lizette at the dining room table. The lights of the Christmas tree twinkled in the corner.
He sat beside her but didn’t reach for her hand. “You’ve looked at it all day. There’s nothing that can be done.”
“it just seems every time we get ahead, something takes it all away again.”
She shuffled the papers and added another bill to the growing stack beside her. “We can leave property taxes until the new year, and hopefully we can get another week on the washer, but this energy bill—“
Kolby sighed. “I’m sorry—“
“It’s not your fault. They’re the ones that hiked up their rates.“
“But still...” He dropped his head and slumped beside her, staring at her stacks.
He knew he couldn’t tell her.
“We’ll figure it out.” She reached out and took his hand. “Maybe we can use the credit card and buy some time.”
“It just delays the inevitable.”
“We have no choice.”
“Kolby, we’ll figure it out.”
She squeezed his hand and smiled. He could barely look at her.
Lizette stretched and pulled herself away from the stack of papers. She moved through the main floor and turned out the lights.
She paused at the bottom of the stairs and studied her husband. He sat hunched in his chair, staring out the window, his face in the shadows.
“You coming up?”
“Let it go. It’s just bad timing, hon. We’ll get through it.”
He didn’t answer.
“Don’t stay up long,” she said and went upstairs.
Kolby stared in the window at the reflection of the dark spirit that hovered just behind his shoulder. It had been there for as long as he could remember—borne of youthful stupidity and greed. Nothing he said would ever make a difference.
Kolby had hoped it would eventually leave. He tried to be a good husband, father, and person, but none of it mattered. It always remained.
Sometimes it would disappear, and he’d foolishly think he was done with it. His life would slowly get better, and things would get easier. And then it would reappear to take whatever hope he’d gained away.
Kolby glared before he, too, stood and turned out the last light.
Although he couldn’t see a thing, he knew the dark spirit was still there.
Lizette was right though. Nothing could be done, and eventually, they’d get through it another day.
He trudged up the stairs, knowing they’d do what they had to do.