UNTITLED: a short story


DAD:
Often I wondered what went wrong. My curiosity had always gotten the best of me, and I had always been selfish. I suppose some habits aren’t that easy to grow out of. I’m sure it’s the reason why they left. If there ever was a reason, that would be it. If I had spent more time being a father instead of thinking of myself, maybe she would’ve let me keep her. Maybe they would have both stayed. You see, even now, I’m only thinking of myself.
At the airport, she wanted me to carry her bags. My wife ended up doing that for her. When I saw them to their gate, a part of me thought it was a big joke, like an elaborate surprise party. I thought they would walk back through the jet way with big grins on their faces. Maybe that’s why I had stayed there so long. Even after their plane had left, I thought ‘any second now, they’ll be right here next to me welcoming me back in their life’. It was dark when I had left.
After I sold the house, I got an apartment with a roommate. We would stay up some nights, sharing meals or watching television. Whenever my roommate’s girlfriend would come over, I would get insanely jealous. I would hear them in his room, and every so often I felt tempted to knock and see if I could join them. Once again, only thinking of myself.
I had never been a father. I had no real father myself, but I had a pretty good idea what it meant to be a dad. My wife contradicted those thoughts as fast as I had them. She was a good mother; picking her up from school, going to all of the games. What the hell was I doing? My daughter was missing from my life even when I saw her everyday.
It’s been three years since then. Three years since they got on that plane. I had a few more roommates, a few of them got married, one died, one even stole my T.V. I’ll never forget how I found Jim, the one that died. I discovered him in the house, and seeing death again like that made me think of my father. When I was a kid, my mother and I had found the old man in the garage, and even though I was very young, coldness penetrated me when I saw him dead. I would wait up late at night, thinking he would come back. I thought he would fly in through my window and hug me all night. I was only six years old.
I tried moving to a new city a few times, always at the last minute I would end up staying. I had no real job. Even my friends slowly started to fade from my life, until it was just me in that apartment, and I stopped looking for roommates. I always could’ve afforded the rent, I just needed the company. I bought a dog. I bought fish. I got some plants. I would talk to them about my daughter. I would repeat this story I’m typing to them over and over. My dog, Rocky, would look at me like he understood my pain. I would give him a treat just for pretending.
April 14th, I woke in the middle of the night. I could hear my daughter’s voice. I opened the window and could see her flying in the night sky. Chills ran up and down my skin. “I miss you so much”. I started to cry. I don’t even know where she lives now. I’m sure my wife took her as far away as she could. My mother-in-law called me once, but there was silence on the phone. I knew she felt sorry for me. I wish I could’ve given her a treat just for pretending.
That night I couldn’t go back to sleep. Fantastic visions of my daughter prevented me from rest. I was almost sure she was dead. If I could’ve just been there during the last minutes of her life, I would’ve been a good father, I swear. A real dad. I promise.
MOM:
I never stopped loving you. Why didn’t you believe in yourself? You had my support, your daughter’s support. You were always poisoning us. You were always throwing us down, and when you weren’t doing that, you were never around. The difference between then and now is that we’re free from your bad influence. We are finally free to be the family that you could never provide. Did you even want a family in the first place?
When she was born, I saw you crying in the shed. The ground was all wet. I never said anything about it, until now. I see that they weren’t tears of joy but of sadness. It was the same tears I saw that night, when you accidentally killed that little boy crossing the street. The only difference is that one life was being taken away, and now you were given a second chance. You were given a new life. Were you ever strong enough to accept that?
As soon as we left you at the airport, I felt the tension break. I felt the strings melt, and I knew that this not only was what you wanted, but it was what you needed. I still have growing to do too, but with you it was never growth. If you’re wondering what your daughter thinks about all of this, I could tell you. She’s told me many times how she misses you, but she has never felt a real sadness or cried over you. This is how you raised her. This is how we raised her. I want my daughter back.
On April 14th, she went missing from her bed. The police, me, everyone in the neighborhood was trying to find her. It was like she simply vanished in the sheets. Every time I looked under the bed, I expected to find her there fast asleep, lost in a dream. We found her the next morning by the creek, half dead. She said that she saw you, that she visited you. She said she flew through the air and saw you looking at her from the window. What else did she tell you that night? If she were alive today, I would ask her.
May 15, 1987
DAUGHTER:
Once when I was really really little, I saw mommy and daddy in their room. It made me mad. They said I was going to have a brother.
DOCTOR:
Do you have a brother?
DAUGHTER:
Yea, five.
DOCTOR:
No you’re an only child. So how many brothers does that mean you have?
DAUGHTER:
Five.
DOCTOR:
No, you have zero. Zero brothers.
DAUGHTER:
I don’t want to play this game anymore.
DOCTOR:
Do you remember what happened the night you disappeared?
DAUGHTER:
I saw daddy.
……is she mine?
de·lu·sion (d-lzhn)
n A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness.
death (dth)
n.
The act of dying; termination of life.