A very late post for Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenge. My family vacation got me behind on all my writing. But it was worth it. This week’s challenge was to write about a bad dad, but make him sympathetic. Since, I grew up with an abusive father, it was pretty hard for me to write, but I enjoyed it. Wish the story was a bit more upbeat. Check out the contest here http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/06/16/19188/
“Annabel!” I hated the sound of his voice. It was too high pitched for a man, and gravelled like a long time smoker. He was drunk, again. Strangely enough, whenever he was drunk he called my mother Annabel, instead of Anna. He would never answer as to why when he was sober.
A sliding step, with a crash followed by a long string of profanity. He slipped on his bad leg falling into a small table by the door. I pushed aside my college textbook. The words were beginning to blur anyway. The heavy oak furniture had taken on dark tones since I only worked from one small desk lamp. I stepped outside the office to look at him balled up on the floor.
“Travis?” He squinted up at me. As he adjusted I noticed blood leaking down his nose.
“Yeah, Dad, I’m the only one here. You got yourself in the nose.” I managed to not mention it was a regular occurrence. In his state he’d just get defensive.
He pressed against his nose and blood spurted out. He pinched it tight and held his nose upward. “Sorry, I know I’m a mess.”
I felt a tinge of guilt. He didn’t mean to fall apart like this. I pulled him up with ease, he’d lost so much weight. “Don’t apologize to me. You are hurting yourself a lot more than you’re hurting me. I’m a big boy these days.”
He leaned into me. “You seem like a little boy to me still. Your mother always says you’ll never be a big boy to her.” It always seemed odd that he never slurred his words. Guess he wasn’t that kind of drunk.
His arm wrapped around my neck. Most his weight on me as we made the slow walk to his bedroom. The family pictures bright and happy. My mother had installed little LED above them that were light sensitive. She wanted to always be able to see them no matter the time of day. To this day it made me roll my eyes.
Lost in my own thoughts I didn’t notice my dad digging his heels in. He stood in front of a family portrait of us standing in front of Niagra Falls. “We loved it there.”
Before answering I thought of it. The spray of water and the majesty of the falls was unrivalled. Even as a small kid I understand the beauty of it. “Yeah, we did. I loved most of all our vacations. You picked the sights, and my mom made it all work.”
“Did you talk to your mother today?” He asked me nearly every day.
“No, I didn’t. Did you?” My same answer every day, I wish he didn’t ask.
He shook his head as he stumbled forward. “I forgot. I thought about her all day, but I forgot to talk to her. What kind of man am I? I made my son drag my drunk ass to bed, and I don’t talk to my wife.”
“Dad…” I started. He already felt bad enough; I didn’t need him to beat on himself more.
A twist of his shoulder as he fell into his door knocking it open. With a loud thump he landed on his bedroom carpet. “Enough, I need to man up. You know what today is?”
“I do.” As if I could forget. The sound of metal scraping and compacting together. Screams, and moans of hurt, and the dying. The flow of warm blood running down my arms. Even the smells burning flesh, and leaking oil forever imprinted on my mind. A year passed and the memories hadn’t even dulled.
He pulled himself up and switched on a hologram. My mother’s image appeared a placid smile on her lips. “Hello, Anna.”
The image said nothing. I tried to bite my tongue, but the words wormed their way out. “Dad, she’s dead.”
The room went dead still. It always went like this. He would shut down, he couldn’t deal with it. The desire to shout until he accepted it filled me. I beat it down, and went to step out the room.
“I know.” His voice low.
“What?” I turned to see his shoulder’s slumping.
His shoulders shook. “I know, Son. She’s gone, and she isn’t coming back. And, I’m useless to you. I can’t work, I can’t take care of myself, I serve no purpose anymore.” A cry escaped from him. “If Annabel was alive she be disgusted by me.”
I should have said something. For a year it was all I wanted. For him to acknowledge she was gone. To stop pretending to talk to her every day. And now that it had happened I couldn’t absorb it. It felt like she finally died for me as well. My legs gave out and I landed hard on the floor. I buried my head into my hands and let out a sob.
A click noise caused me to lift my head. He held a gun pressed against his temple facing my mother. “I can’t do it, anymore. I hate myself, and what I’ve become. I love you, close your eyes.”
I jerked forward to shove him down. But, he was too fast. The sound seemed to explode outward to fill every crack and crevice. The wet, hot bits landed all over me. And his body slumped to the ground. I laid beside him for a moment. “You abandoned me, again.” I whispered. I stood up, and headed to the phone to call the police.