And so it goes. Men make babies, they do a piss poor job of raising them, and then they die. At least, that’s how it went with my father. I bet that’s how it went for more than a few others too.
The man we all feared, the man we wanted to love but who made it exceedingly hard to was gone. I looked down the row to my mother who was seated in the widows place, the honored inside aisle seat. I looked to my two brothers, one after the other on each side of me, and they were looking at her too.
If I had to guess I would say they were pretty disgusted by her display of grief. If I had to guess I would say they thought she was being a bit dramatic over a man who beat and terrorized his wife and kids for years.
My mother had only married the man but me and my brothers, we were made and unmade by him. Tony had come first and so had received the brunt of his anger. Tony became the worst parts of my Father. He had his stubbornness and his temper. Tony was in terrible danger of doing to his future wife and kid what had been done to us but he would never see it. His hatred for our father told him that would never happen. His hatred would lie to him his whole life.
Emmett came next, my mother’s son. She’d been too far gone for way too long after Tony was born to ever get him back. Our father had already beaten and belittled him into the man he would become. Emmett would be my mother’s salvation. If he turned out okay it would be the same as forgiveness from God. Emmett didn’t turn out alright and no would forgive her.
Emmett was quiet and serious. He was angry too, but it was a quiet anger he directed back into himself. Our father punished him for the attention and protection our mother gave him. Our mother made him feel guilty for what she now endured. It was his job to make it right and his job to love her when our father couldn’t. The pressure only pushed him away. We would never truly know him and he would never truly feel like one of us.
And then there was me, my father’s only daughter. He’d largely avoided me, the only good thing he’d done in his life I suppose. I think I scared him. His sons were reminders of what he’d been taught a man ought to be, but he knew in his heart of hearts that daughters were only meant to be spoiled and loved. He also knew, down in his heart of hearts, that he could never do that.
My family would love me for making our father human. They would hate me for being the one thing my father chose to love.
Seeing him in that coffin reminded me how much I looked like him and made me think of all the ways he had made me too. I like to think I got the best of him, the parts no one ever got to see in the right light. I’d gotten passion instead of anger, I’d gotten perseverance instead of pigheadedness, not to mention his charm and his tendency to do just as he pleased.
I can’t say whether I loved my father or not. I never got to know him well enough to decide. I know I felt like I could see him. A broken man who got stuck in a bad way and could never get out. He was a monster I know that, and he is gone now, I’ve accepted that. For some reason, though, I wanted to make him proud.
I wanted to be his second chance.
Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.
Featured image via Don LaVange