The flash blasts my father in his eyes, they’re red and watery but they’ve been like that for a while now. He doesn’t leave his house and I have to bring him food every now and again. I think he likes the company.
I try to cheer him up, but he always has that faraway look.
He doesn’t take care of himself, he doesn’t let me wash him off either. His body smells. I feel bad about that.
He raised me, provided for me, now I have a good career and I’m starting a family. And I want my father to know them, but all he does is count down. His clock ticks and he waits for his bell to toll. Humans shouldn’t be cooped up alone in the middle of the city, but he’s miles away in his head. His head and apartment are his world.
Mom was his reason for living.
I know that now that she’s gone.
He didn’t show her much affection.
He didn’t tell her he loved her enough.
And I think he’s sad about that.
To make up I say I love my wife everyday. When I get home I grab her and squeeze her tight and say, “I love you.” With all the sincerity I feel inside of me.
She usually pushes me away and tells me I’m crazy.
Tonight will be special, I will grab her shoulders and look into her.
She will see me and hug me and kiss my cheek and tell me she loves me.
I hug my Dad when I leave his apartment.
Before I leave today, I stop at the door. I turn around back to him. I grab his shoulders, I look into him, and for once he wasn’t safe inside, he was vulnerable in my eyes.
I say, “I love you. I know you love me. Mom loved you and she knew you loved her dearly.”
His eyes well up a little more than normal. He smiles and kisses my cheek.
That night he passed away and I found out my wife is pregnant.
Story by Everett Merrill