Tear Drops

Andrew Leon Hudson

Equilibrium in the workplace.

FADE FROM BLACK. MUSIC: steady, rich, stirring. PHOTO MONTAGE: a happy family: father and mother in youthful prime, charming son at play, all smiling, all beautiful. A male voice, soothing, affectionate: "People who live in the real world know – for all the joys that fill our lives –"

MUSIC: shift to minor key, heartfelt, touching. CUT TO: the same family, now grieving: father cradling "sleeping" son, mother weeping alone, husband and wife crying against each other. "– there is inevitable pain. – It is simply – the nature of things."

MUSIC: step back into major key, soulful, hopeful. CUT TO: the husband and wife supporting each other: formal wear, solidarity, smiles tinged with sadness. "The hard times – make us value the good – teach us to embrace – the fleeting moments."

MUSIC: subtle introduction of TD-theme. CUT TO: husband at work; his fingertips touching a framed B/W photograph of happy family on his desk; ON his bitter-sweet smile. "The good times – give us the strength – to help those we love – when times are hard."

MUSIC: TD-theme builds to its gentle crescendo. CUT TO: husband returning home. PHOTO MONTAGE segues into MOVING FOOTAGE as he embraces his wife; they hold each other and find comfort. "And so do we."

MUSIC: TD-theme melodic hook. CUT TO: approved product image of the Tear Drops™ packaging and logo sequence. "Tear Drops. Helping you to take control of the hard times –"

MUSIC: TD-theme smooth ending. CUT TO: CLS/UP on husband and wife’s hands, clasped, as they walk towards a gentle brightness. "– and return to the good." FADE TO BLACK.

The lights fade up on quiet applause from the table. Mr. Hearth, Dharmaceuticals CEO, smiles in satisfaction. His voice is warm. "This is exactly what we were hoping for from the campaign. Very pleasing, Michael. Well done."

Michael Albright, rising star in the advertising department, nods with his customary restraint and allows a slight, polite smile to touch his handsome face. "Thank you, Mr. Hearth."

"I think there is no question but that we move to have the ads hit at the start of the year." Mr Hearth looks around the table. He sees no dissenters. "Very well. Let’s be ready for action January first. Work to be done. Meeting adjourned."

The attendees disperse, murmuring information in pairs, congratulating Albright in passing. Mr Hearth approaches the younger man, a hand raised to press his shoulder with paternal affection.

They walk corridors, Mr. Hearth discussing strategies, Albright agreeing and opining when invited. In Albright’s department Mr. Hearth makes a brief speech, congratulating the staff on their efforts. The two men enter Albright’s corner office accompanied by the happy applause of his team.

"I always knew you were the man for this job, Michael." Mr. Hearth looks at the framed photograph on Albright’s desk: this charming man, his lovely wife, their sweet daughter. Amazing, he thinks.

Albright looks at it too, his smile as genuine as those in the image. "I couldn’t have done it without them," he says and, shivering, Mr. Hearth makes his excuses – much to do, best get to it – to leave as soon as possible.

With a last loving glance at his family, Albright turns his attention to his organiser. The day is all ahead of him. Work to be done.

The evening commute. Dharmaceuticals enjoys quick access to the bypass. Albright can be home in forty minutes. Brightness gradually fades.

Music distracts from the gathering gloom: light, melodic classics, but the playlist shifts to the romantic, lovelorn. Too much, he switches the radio off.

As his mind wanders the hum of the road drills his subconscious, eroding the last layers to break the soft seal on his preoccupation. Each breath shudders in his throat, diaphragm trembling as it works to maintain control against the emotional forces laying their sudden siege again.

Pulling into his driveway, the gates burst open and Albright wails without restraint, the tears washing over his face, down his throat, salty as blood. The house is dark and empty, as cold as the car’s engine when he finally stumbles from his seat.

How could she leave? he asks himself. Why would she do this to me?

He never eats at home, not now. He curls up small on the long sofa, gutted, flayed, right where poor Hailee used to watch her programs, play her games. Where he consoled Karen through her terrible guilt, first despite his own grief, then through the grace of Tear Drops™.

Her mistake! he rages. Her fault!

They helped him to help her during the long months leading towards a semblance of recovery; they helped him continue, the way he had to, as the Man, the breadwinner, until each night he returned to her side and it was her turn, to console him through the torturous release back into his own sorrow.

Our daughter. He aches inside. Forgotten...

Yet unlike his support for her, her support for him wavered with time. She’d accepted, she said, moved on, despite her pain. But his pain was the same as it was on the first day, he was trapped by it, she said, in a voluntary cage. How many years could he keep standing still?

Oh, Hailee! he weeps. Oh, Karen, how could you?

Adrift in a bed now his alone, Albright fumbles for the dispenser pack in the dark. One pill or a hundred, the engineered effect would be the same, overdose impossible. The stupefying surface coating quickly soothes him past the wracking sobs into a sound night’s sleep, before eighteen legal hours of patented time-release medication grant him freedom – to not just make it through the following day, but to flourish as if nothing was ever wrong.

Albright wakes refreshed, showers, eats, hums through the foam as he brushes his teeth. Meetings with the channel reps today, deals to finalise, lots to do. Christmas will be on us soon, he thinks as he dresses, smiling as he picks out the right tie. Hailee loved Christmas.

© Andrew Leon Hudson 2013 All Rights Reserved

Date and time of last update 10:56 Sat 09 Mar 2013
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