Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Family Reunion

I woke up this morning to find my father in the kitchen, rummaging through the freezer for ice cubes while the tap ran in the sink. I was confused because my father had been dead for eighteen years.

"Dad?" I asked, cautiously making my way into the kitchen. Setting his hands on his hips he turned to stare at the counter next to the stove. He wore a white tank top smeared with oil and grass stains, small khaki shorts sitting high above the knee. His skin glistened between flecks of dirt and grass, and the thick dark hair on his arms and legs lay matted from the humidity outside. He continued to perspire, even as he stood in front of the freezer.

"Who did the lawn last?" he asked, taking off his glasses and pulling his shirt up to wipe the sweat off his forehead. 

"Mom took over," I said. "After you died. And then when I turned eleven I started doing it."

"Oh," he said, sliding his glasses back onto his face and looking up, out past the window, beyond any sort of specificity.  "Because whoever did it last did a terrible job. I just did it. The right way."

"Well I moved out. So I think Mom does it now."

"Your mother," he said, smiling, shaking his head as he tilted down to look at his feet. He had yet to look at me.

"I think I'm still asleep," I said.

"Oh?" My father asked, leaning against the counter.

"Yes," I said, nodding. "I remember this kitchen. This awful crawling wallpaper. Blue vines. I live somewhere else now."

"I see. Well, I made you a baked potato," he said, making a gesture to an empty table.

"I'm not hungry," I said, moving to leave the kitchen. "I have to go anyway. I'm going to be late for work."

"But you have to make time to eat. You're a growing boy."

"I'm an adult, dad. I finished growing."

"I missed that, didn't I?"

"Yea. But you couldn't help it. It was an accident."

My father nodded, his eyes glistening but fixed. Without another word he turned back to the freezer, and I remembered how easy it was to find yourself alone; how difficult it was to live that way.

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