Monday 12 November 2012

Monday Fables #7: Father

Father by Marina V

Father do you feel alone
In your empty home sometimes
Father do you know that I
Think about you all the time
Are you feeling sad?
Do you need me there?
Would it matter if I’d stayed?
And if you don’t mind
Would you drop me a line
Saying that you are still alright
Father were you always cold
Or grew sad and old with time
Father do you know that I
Have forgiven you in my mind
But can you look beyond
What you’ve always known
Can you look me in the eye?
Oh when you look my way
Do you feel ashamed
That you never took the time
Father do you ever cry
When you think about your life
Father if I needed you
Would you try to make things right
Is it still too late?
Have you lost all faith?
Did you have it from the start?
Cause you could have known
Someone of your own
But you had to make it hard.

The answering machine picked up without even trying. She sighed, sinking into her hip as the familiar light voice of her mother told the caller with the sweet, laughing voice that once made her so sad that they weren’t at home and they should leave a message. She swallowed as the tone rang out, running over the speech she’d prepared in her head. “Hey dad it’s me. I just wanted to call and see how you were doing. We haven’t talked in a really long time and uh…” she took a deep breath “I-I miss you. I know what happens to you – especially this time of year and…” No, no, she swallowed the end of that sentence. She would not do that over the phone. “I went by your work last week; I was going to take you out to lunch so we could talk. We haven’t talked in a long time, you know? They told me that you quit. You still had a few more years before retirement. I…” swallowing didn’t help this time so she sunk into old couch she’d inherited from her parents when she first moved out. “I wish you would talk to me. Hell I wish you would talk to someone about this. Please don’t shut me out anymore. I can’t lose both of you. This isn’t how mom would have wanted you to live your life and you know it.” She gained confidence through the familiarity of indirect confrontation.  “I miss her too; every day. But you can’t keep doing this.” She took a shaky breath that she knew was getting through to the answering machine. “I’m going to come by tomorrow; whether you’re ready or not. I” the machine cut her off before she could finish ‘love you’.
He knew she had more to say – more to scold him about – but he let the machine cut her off so he wouldn’t have to. He was seated in the large brown chair, the one that matched the couch his daughter had taken when she moved out leaving him alone with a half empty glass of scotch. He’d switched to the cheap stuff a few months ago although the taste wasn’t much different. It still tasted ashy and dry; still burned down his throat leaving no residual pleasant aftertaste other than the usual taste of numbness and dirt. He’d keep drinking after that first glass, hoping that the taste would get better and he’d keep drinking and keep drinking until he forgot why he started. Only that he missed his wife and this numb, ashy taste was better than trying to remember what she tasted like and failing miserably.
He hadn’t moved from that chair in three days except to use the washroom or grab another photo album from days gone by that no longer made him sad. It made him regretful – guilty – but not sad; not anymore. The house had grown old with him, creaking when he moved like the bones cracking against each other in protest. The layer of dust that covered the surface of his bedroom upstairs matched his hair and the unshaven beard that had grown without him realizing. The kitchen had barely been touched in years because she hated to cook and piano in the living room, standing pristinely in the corner, waiting patiently to be adored was silent; the lid had been closed long ago and no sound had filled the room in even longer. He wouldn’t dare touch it – not even run his hands over the smooth surface – for fear that it would take him back to a different place and time when love was easy to fall into and harder to get out of. It seemed that nearly every surface of the house he once shared held that same fear in his hands so he stayed in his chair. It seemed to be the only safe haven from the torturous voices of the past and when he sat in that chair he could control the memories that flooded by going through albums of the days he once cherished but now regretted.  
The curtains hadn’t been opened in the last few years but he could see the faintest white light spilling through a crack in the green curtains – she had insisted that green was the right mood for the room. It was spring again; that much he knew. And he knew that it was close to the day that was burned into his eyelids so whenever he closed his eyes he say her body lying in the middle of the road in a mangled heap.
She had been coming to see him. He had been working late at the office and even though it was his anniversary his boss wouldn’t let him get away until the paperwork was filled out and on his desk. When he called to tell her the bad news she’d sounded disappointed but not hurt, already plotting in her head what she would do to make her husband smile – and get the paperwork done faster. She’d donned a pair of jeans and his favourite blue blouse, packed a picnic with candles and strawberries and settled into the car for the twenty minute drive to the office. She was two blocks away when a drunk driver forgot which side of the road he was supposed to drive on and she was flung through the windshield, fruit and broken candles littering the entire street.
The image was burned in his mind as much as her melodic voice sweetly laughing ‘I love you’ into the phone just as she hung up. He’d said it back but it didn’t make it better in the slightest. She was gone and no amount of ‘I love you’s would bring her back. He’d found reason to blame a lot of people for that night but it eventually came back to him and he hadn’t managed to get through the pressure on his chest whenever he thought of her. The pressure had become a friend, a companion to the dry taste that never left his mouth.
He was interrupted from his thoughts by the sound of the phone ringing again, and again, he let it go to voicemail. “Dad,” she sighed into the phone “I just want you to know; I don’t blame you; for anything.” There was a long pause and he could see his little girl staring down at her hands. She always did that when the words rolling around in her head were too much to be said out loud “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Then she hung up. He took another swallow and finished off the glass.

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