I just found this half finished piece I wrote on Evernote. It was based on a dream I had about my father..or at least someone who represented my father. I stopped writing because the dream ended and I don’t remember the rest. Should I just leave it or use my imagination to finish it? Let me know in the comments.
I tapped his shoulder. He turned around and a grin so wide appeared on his face. I looked down and smiled, but he pulled my face back up with his hand.
“Never hide that smile. It’s like your mother’s. Its why I fell in love with her”.
“How are you, Dad?”
His face turns somber as he considers my question. I use the awkward pause to study his face. His eyes are hollow with gray-ish circles underneath. There’s still a dancing light in his eye. Probably the same one my mother says he got when his favorite baseball team played.
I can tell he isn’t well. A part of me wishes it was because of his Lupus but I know it isn’t. There is no secret about his drug use but we’ve never talked about it. He’s a Taurus like me so anything I say will just hit a brick wall. His lips are chapped and they were recently bleeding.
The hair that was once the talk of South Jamaica now resembles a black matter cap on his head. It’s grown out and stock a out on the sides. Reminds me of dirty straw. He cocks his head to the left.
” I’m fine,baby girl.
Baby girl. The sentiment hits me in the chest and I let out a deep breath. I’ve been called “baby girl ” by no good men I’ve dated. It always bought a smile to my face and a warmth in my groin,but this time it literally takes my breath away.
After all this time,I sill wanted to be Daddy’s Little Girl. I had pushes that idea out of my mind because I didn’t think I’d ever hear it from him. I grab his calluses but warm hand. I tug on it and we walk through the park.
I stop at a hot dog stand. I remember my great grandmother calling them “dirty Frank’s. Maybe she thought that the dogs somehow were sullied by the polluted New York air once they were transferred to the bun,then the customer. I start to tell the cart guy my order when Dad yells that I should let him guess what I like.
“Come on Dad, I’m hungry ” I protest. I shift my weight from my right foot to my left. It’s my tell tale of uncomfortability. Dad studies my face then looks down at my belly.
” You like it with ketchup and spicy mustard” he proclaims.
He is completely off. I hate spicy food and thanks to my younger brother, who drowned everything in ketchup,I hate that too. Do I tell him he’s way off? He nods his head eagerly,waiting my response.
“Good guess, Dad”
He gives me the thumbs up but I don’t offer to guess his favorite for fear of him lying to me the way I lied to him. He asks for a spicy sausage with onions. My stomach churns because that is actually my favorite thing to get. I pay for our food not bothering to wait for him to do it because I know any money he has is for his…vice. Maybe the ketchup and spicy mustard won’t be so bad. Before I could get in my third bite, Dad osis already balling up the aluminum foil wrapper his sausage was in. I grab the paper from him and he makes a hoop with his arms. I dunk and he cheers for me.
” You like basketball,kid?” He asks
“Sometimes. The last time I enjoyed it was when Dwayne Wade won his first championship. Mourning and Peyton were on his team then.
“Hmm…that was awhile ago,baby girl”
“Yeah,my brother taught me how basketball works that year and I liked it” I respond.
I immediately regret bringing up my brother. My father has always ignores the fact that I have a sibling through adoption. It leaves a bad taste in his mouth, akin to his many nights emptying his stomach of putrid bile. No one wants to be reminded of their failure as a parent,I suppose.
We walk along in silence. I love the biting chill a New York winter chill brings. People scatter like roaches to get away from it, but I embrace it. The mostly dreary days bring me peace. I wonder what brings Daddy peace. Is it a sound? A color? A taste? A season?
After a we are a block out of the block, I realize that we aren’t going anywhere. I look up at Dad and he smiles at me.
“Where are we going?”
We’re here” he responds
Does he not now I’ve lived here my whole life? Like,all 30 years of it.