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This, or Everything and Nothing

By Timothy J. Hillegonds

He thinks of her that first night in rehab, that first night in Minnesota, when he feels panic and failure seeping into his thoughts, when he sees light spilling, triangle like, through his half-closed door.

It has been five years since he left her. Is it possible, he thinks, that so much time has passed since he last held her? Since he last saw her? She was two when he left. He was twenty-one. She turned seven eight days before he entered rehab.

He thinks of her that first night in rehab, as he almost always does when the sky is dark and the world has quieted and he’s not drunk or high enough to ignore the thoughts in his head. He thinks of how she looked the last time he saw her, those brown eyes like his, that acorn-colored hair; or, rather, he thinks about what he thinks she looked like, because he’s afraid to admit—even though he knows with certainty—that she’s become a fading image in his head.

About the Author

Timothy J. Hillegonds is the author of The Distance Between (Nebraska, 2019). His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, Assay, Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, River Teeth, Baltimore Review, Brevity, Hippocampus Magazine, and others. Tim was recently named as one of The Guild Literary complex’s “30 WRITERS TO WATcH 2019” and serves as a contributing editor at Slag Glass City, a digital journal of the urban essay arts.