The Lonesome Death of Daniel's Doughnut

Short fiction by Ben SD
Yes and you who must leave everything
That you cannot control;
It begins with your family,
But soon it comes round to your soul.
Well I've been where you're hanging,
I think I can see how you're pinned:
When you're not feeling holy,
Your loneliness says that you've sinned.
Leonard Cohen

Daniel sat alone in his home for the first time in weeks. He had a wife and three kids; solitude had matured into little more than a myth. In front of him was a half-eaten doughnut speckled with color and oozing thick red slime from the middle. The rest of the kitchen he sat in was bland, colorless and boring. The pictures had been taken down and the refrigerator was no longer littered with the crayon-colored work of young aspiring Picassos. He was very truly alone.

The trailer park he lived in was only ever a half-step away from being demolished and, if he hadn't secured his place as mayor (which is easily achieved when nobody else runs) the dim-witted megalomaniacs who ran this town would have already done it. Now he wished they had.

He could hear the TV in the next room and saw much of it at a harsh angle. Homer Simpson was staring down at a doughnut, too, pondering its value versus the value of his soul. Daniel could relate. Like Homer, he was overweight, lethargic and stupid. Although no deal had been struck officially, he knew that finishing this particular pastry meant surrendering his soul.

It was no wonder that she had left him, not really. Mayor or not, the story wouldn't appear in the paper. The locals didn't generally care and the one or two who might have would not be surprised. Unlike most people, Daniel did not have redeeming qualities. Once, maybe, when he first got married, he had been a good person with good prospects and brains to match. He had eaten and drunk those away one day at a time and was now just a bloated shell of that person.

The kids had gone with her, of course. He might have won a legal battle if he'd thought to make one of it; he might have gotten primary custody of all three, but why would he? Daniel had no delusions of being a good father or of even wanting to be a father at all. These days, they brought him no pleasure. Something had changed inside him over the years. These days, all that brought him pleasure was knowing that, if he stuck it out long enough, he would die.

He considered this as he looked down at his rainbow-sprinkled dinner. It sat in the box alone now, just as Daniel was. The other doughnuts were gone, all eleven of them, but all around that last one were reminders of them. A pecan here, a smear of chocolate icing there, a streak of white cream filling that had been mostly collected on a finger.

A commercial break snapped his attention away from his meal. He was alone; the family, their things, their pictures, those were all gone, but the reminders would never leave. He thought for a brief fleeting second that he could paint over the discolored segments of wall, that he could cover up those rectangles that used to house smiling faces in happier times, but what would be the point? For as long as he lived, he would expect to see them there in those spaces – spaces like the one that occupied him at that moment, just behind and above his doughnut – and knew that simply hiding them with paint would be no different than trying to hide his shitty Oldsmobile under a sheet.

The last doughnut was too much. He couldn't eat it. The barren rectangle of unnatural white on the wall was too much, too. He couldn't swallow it. In a fit of raw emotion that surpassed anything he'd felt in the last five years, Daniel grabbed the remnants of that last doughnut and hurled it at the space on the wall. The jelly splattered and mingled with sprinkles into some cruel mockery of faces that should have been loving and kind and warm and his. They should have been his. They should have been his to hold and love and kiss and read bedtime stories to but it was too late for that. What they should have been was erased and replaced by a disgusting cacophony of colors.

Daniel heaved himself up from his chair onto his aging and sore knees as the tears rolled down his face, blurring the image of mockery he had made. He went to that face and pressed his own against it, pretending it was one of the faces he'd lost, not a picture, but the face itself. He pretended it was the real face and that it could comfort his tears or accept the love he'd never been able to muster. He pretended it would take him back, even knowing that it wouldn't if it had been real.

As the numbness and pain took him, Daniel scooped up the sugary bits, holding them together in his arms and weeping as if he'd held a stillborn child. In a way, that's exactly what he had. His chest heaved and clenched and his breathing rattled to a stop. He managed to smile a little through the tears, just one last small smirk, and kissed the doughnut as he collapsed into his final heap.