A large wall of green welcomed people up the path to my house, casting shadows over the street. I often joked to hedge appraisers about once hiring Edward Scissorhands to do work on my lawn when I received awards. However, the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. My father, Terry’s flat stood behind all of the lights and beauty. That senile fart was always raining on our parades, calling me ungrateful and selfish, but he doesn’t know what it takes to be this successful.
I’ve gotten this far without his help, and I sure as hell don’t need it now. He always appears when he’s not needed and nowhere to be seen when we do. Now that I had a family of my own, he’s retreated back into his run-down shell of a residence and can never be bothered to help. After Mum died and he retired, he never did much of anything. Mum’s death was tough on everyone, but we learned to move on with our lives. And what was his solution? To give up and retire and let everyone else do the heavy lifting?! What a joke…
I wiped my baby’s chin, covered in strands of pasta and sauce, while my wife Lorraine collected the dirty dishes from the table. My father, who had come over for dinner, was on his new phone, holding it at arm’s length and constantly readjusting his glasses. I read ‘Top 10 Ways to Get Easy Money’ in big bold letters at the top of his screen. Lorraine and I glanced at each other and accidentally let out a small chuckle, drawing his attention. His shoulders slumped as he lowered the brightness on his phone to prevent either of us from prying any further. I said nothing further to him that night, afraid he would turn a subtle comment into another reprimanding about responsibility and my role to ‘make a difference in the world’. Little did he know, I would say nothing further to him ever again.
The night went by as my father stuck around, stretched himself onto the full length of one of our more expensive couches. Despite Lorraine and my indifference towards his presence, an underlying sense of unease settled in my chest. I try to pay it no mind. Our baby was sent out wails from the other room, clearly getting on my father’s nerves.
“Can someone shut that thing up?!” he screamed. His voice boomed across the living room, only irritating the baby further. Lorraine rushed to calm him down and, after covering his ears with pillows and writhing about, Terry stormed off and returned to his flat. He slammed the door behind him and sent vibrations across the rest of the house. The baby’s cries only grew louder. That incorrigible old fart. He could yell at me all he wanted, but no one had the right to badmouth my children like that. My frustration began to boil up, but I was too exhausted to follow him to his room; instead retiring to my own with thoughts rushing through my head. By the time my head had hit the pillow, I had drifted off.
I awoke the next morning, still upset at my father. Lorraine made me breakfast, but I wasn’t hungry. I was too tired, no, too blinded by anger to care. I slumped into our living room couch and sat there emotionless and reflected on my actions the night before. Hours flew by and endless possibilities of how last night’s dinner could have gone entered my brain. I wasted the day away thinking about what happened last night and dreading what my father would say when he came over. However, he never came. The bathroom in his house never worked and he always came over to use ours.
A wave of dread passed over me as I sprinted out of the house and slammed open the door to my father’s residence. It was smaller than I remembered, yet he was nowhere to be found. Room after room, I flung open doors but to no avail. The trepidation I felt in my body only grew as I approached the last room of the hallway, his bedroom.
The broken down, peeling door opened with a loud creak. One step into the room and my body began to grow cold. There on the bed, my father laid motionless, with damp stains around his pillow. But something was different about him. His eyes seemed to stare off into the abyss, his fingers cold as ice. I put the back of my hand on his neck and felt true nothingness for the first time. No pulse, no breath. Just emptiness. I could feel water begin to roll down my face. Tears? Was I crying? No, that couldn’t be it. There’s no way I could feel sorry for a bum like my father?! It was probably his fault anyway…
My fault! It was all my fault! If only I hadn’t had been such a fool! My legs turned to jelly, and I began to break down and weep. Emotions bled out all at once. Every moment I had wasted hurling insults and ignoring the plight of my own flesh and blood had come back to bite me. I let my own pride and selfishness kill the man who had raised me. He really was right. I was selfish and rude, never caring about anyone’s feelings but my own. However, my epiphany was too late the hero. I had years to be sorry, millions of chances to apologise and tell him how I felt. It took my own father’s death to realise how inhumane I had become. I was so blinded by greed and self-indulgence that I let my own father die because of it. Because of me. I had no one to blame but myself. The chance to reconcile had blown by me, as I forged it long ago prioritizing my own comfort over the necessities of the people who should have been dearest to me. After he lost Mum, I was all he had left. No one else was left to outstretch their hand. I had pushed him away, and this was my reward. Whose fault but mine…