A Void In Reality Only Few Will Understand

Posted: March 12, 2018 in ME, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“I am your father.” His body language turned sinister as he stepped forward, gripping the back of an old wooden chair. “You’re in my house,” he said through clenched teeth. “You will respect me.”

She stepped back off the step and engaged him with a hostile sneer. “You have no idea what that word means,” she said. “Come down here,” she shouted up the stairwell to the child that hid. “I’ll help get you out.”

“Get out of my house … now.” His saw-like voice ripped through the small space of the living-room, shaking the frightened child inside her.

She swallowed. “I’m not leaving without her.”

“Oh. You’re leaving alright, if I hafta throw your crazy ass out a window.” He lurched forward, taking off after her.

Lu bounded up the steps, taking three at a time, and then turned right, skidding to a halt in a large room with yellow paneling, rust-red carpeting, and two canopy beds. She turned as her father ran for the door. She shut it within an inch of his face. The wood trembled and cracked as he attacked the door. She jerked backward. Terror struck and she dropped down, scrambling backward to hide under the bed.

“You think he’ll get in?” asked a little boy lying by her side.

Lu blinked again and again, her mind trying to figure out where he’d come from.

“Who are you?” she asked. “Is there anyone else here?”

“No. Just me. It’s always just me. My name’s Johnny,” he whispered his eyes fixated on the bedroom door.

Lu swallowed the lump in her throat. “What are you doing here, Johnny?”

He turned his head to look at her, his eyes punching confusion deep into her chest. “Same thing you’re doing.” He looked at her more closely. “You’re an adult,” he said making it a statement. “Adults don’t get scared. Adults don’t hide under beds.”

“No. Not under beds,” she said her voice trailing off. “But don’t worry. I’ll get you out of here.”

“You can’t,” Johnny broke down, his chest heaving with despair. “Only he can, but he’s forgotten why he chose this path.”

Lu, stunned by the sudden maturity strengthening his tone, waited until she realized he’d finished talking. Everyone had lectured her about her choices and about the paths she chose. Another coincidence. No. Coincidences didn’t exist. Mia had said so and she believed her. What did this mean? Who was this child? Possibly a psychotic break within a nervous breakdown? And then she noticed the thickness of his lips and two large front teeth, and a sickening heat clutched her stomach.

“I’m stuck here,” he said, sounding defeated.

“You can’t give up,” she mumbled toying with the notion that this was her father at a younger age. Tears pooled in the little boy’s eyes, releasing a new flood of guilt in Lu that washed away years of old anger, leaving her drained. It couldn’t be him. It just couldn’t. What did it mean if it was? Lu searched the little boy’s face, her examination spotting a mostly healed inch-long, red cut on his forehead. It was in the same place and the same size as the one on her father’s forehead.

“Did you answer the phone when I called before?” She didn’t want him to say yes. Saying yes would mean too much. Hearing yes would knock her off the high horse she’d proudly ridden hard for most of her life.

He nodded and poof, the last leg of her belief crumpled.

“I’ve got to get out of here.” She made it halfway out from under the bed when little boy-sized sneakers stopped her.

“You’re going to leave too?” he asked, bending down to look at her face. “What is wrong with me?” He sniffled, wiping his nose on the back of a hand.

“Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you.” And she meant it. At one point in her father’s life, he had been innocent—blissfully unaware of the cruelty that lurked beyond his awareness. Innocent like she’d once been. She scrambled the rest of the way out from under the bed and took his small hand.

She started when he jerked away from her. “Yes, there is!” he yelled, and then stamped to the door. “My mother hated me, my father couldn’t have cared less, and my brothers could do no wrong.”

“No————” Lu began, but the air thickened, choking the rest of what she wanted to say.

“Yes!” He screamed. “She let them hit me. Told them to.” He coughed. “Even after I was a man, my mother sent them to beat the crap out of me when she found out I visited an aunt she held a grudge against.”

“Wait … what?” Her thoughts warped and spun, spiraling down. “Who would do that?”

“You know who I am.” His voice deepened, smoothing out and becoming the voice she grew up hearing. “Don’t people react the same way to you when you tell our story? Your mother showed you love, gave you enough confidence to be independent, and that was not enough for you. Instead you followed in my footsteps.”

“Why do you hate me? Why did you cheat? What made you so angry all the time?” Her voice dipped and shrunk, no longer sounding like the strong woman she’d been just a few hours ago.

“You always asked me questions I didn’t want to answer. Or couldn’t.” He turned away, digging his tiny chin into his small chest. “A small portion of the truth would have made you hate me more. So, I lied. I couldn’t stop. What was the point of admitting I was too weak and damaged to change? Eventually, I believed the lies myself.”

No longer seeing the whimpering little boy, Lu forced the words building at the back of her throat though her lips. “You lied to keep doing it. You protected yourself. You blamed mom. You blamed me.”

“Lies veil the truths we strive to keep hidden,” he said. “Everyone protects the child that lives inside each of us. Some use violence to build walls, others logic, and so on and so on.” He paused, glaring at her. “I know you understand.” Hate distorted the boy’s innocent face.

Her nails pierced the flesh of her palms. “I don’t. I never lied to anyone.”

As he turned to face her, his limbs extended, his body thickened, his lush curly hair, thinned and whitened. His cheeks drooped and skin wrinkled. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her close. “See. You’re good at it. Helps get you through the day. Right?”

Lu struggled to get away. Away from the smell of oil and metal she’d always associated with him. Away from the tone that stripped her of maturity and strength. She shut her eyes tight. “Don’t touch me!” she yelled. “Never touch me.”

The fingers around her wrist shrank and weakened allowing her to pull away.

“Why does everyone hate me?” The little boy moaned in anguish.

“Because you make them,” she yelled, stamping around the room looking everywhere but at the whimpering boy.

“I can’t let people close. You understand?” He forced her to meet his soulful eyes. “You try to be good. Normal. Like everyone else, but you get beaten for it. Told you’re worthless until you hear it echoed every day in your head. You try harder to be good, but the abuse only gets worse.” He sat down and crisscrossed his legs. “You know what got my mother’s attention?”

Lu calmed as his agitation grew, circling him once before sitting down, crisscrossed, facing him. “Tell me.” She’d never wondered what made her father, what she considered cold and evil. She’d never cared. Until now. Maybe her life would make more sense if she knew his story.

“Hating people,” he continued. “Being better than our neighbors. If you didn’t agree, you were out. Blood didn’t matter. No one spoke against her. If you did, you became nothing. I fought for her attention for so long I became nothing before she made me nothing.”

I loved you,” Lu pleaded. She paused and said, “I love you.”

“No. You wanted things from me I couldn’t give you. Still can’t.”

She raked claws through the carpet. “I want you to love me. To accept who I am, despite what you don’t understand, love me anyway.”

He cocked his head, “I can’t give you what I don’t know.”

She jumped up to her feet. “You make me feel worthless. You blame me for your miserable life.” Her fist hit the center of the door, shattering the wood like tempered glass. The walls fell next and then the floor. Finally, the ceiling rained down on her, the small dull shards of glass turning into water that trailed down her cheeks. “What’s happening?”

Her father stood up as the man she knew him to be. “That is what love is to me,” he said, placing a large hand on her shoulder.

“But you’re normal now,” Lu’s voice squeaked as her body returned to the age of thirteen, the year she found out how cruel her world was. “We can be a family.”

“No. I’m still lost, and you will know that once you’re free from this dream.”

The rain stopped falling and Lu looked up to see her father’s face. It hadn’t softened; his unkind eyes looked down at her the same way as they had the day he’d told Lu he had chosen his disgusting mistress over them. And it all had gone to hell from there.

“If my own father can’t love me,” she sniffled, “how can anyone else?”

“Your mother loved you. Your sister loved you. Just because they’ve passed on doesn’t mean they stopped,” he said, taking a step backward. “I’m just one fucked up person who made one bad choice after another.” He took another step away. “One day I’m going to want what I could never allow myself to have … and worse still, I will die knowing you will never forgive me.” His image shimmered and began to fade against a wall of darkness. “No one will come to my wake. And I deserve that.”

“Don’t go, Daddy!” Seven-year-old Lu screamed and ran forward. “I forgive you.” She wrapped her arms around his waist, and as they passed through, she yelled, “I do!” And then she fell forward into nothing and became nothing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s