May 23rd 2015
I stopped dead in the doorway, staring at him. He’d grown older, much older than he had appeared whenever I was five. His hair was still short, and dark, his eyes still had the same bags underneath the dark irises and weary looks. His mouth was still small and crinkled from the constant frowning. He wasn’t wrinkled, but the wearing of the body was incredibly obvious, his former muscle tone was exchanged for a rather scrawny, pathetic look.
“You’ve grown up,” He said, his voice dry and cracking, “Austin. You’re not a kid anymore…”
I ignored him and dropped my coat on to the side of the couch and sat next to Zach, who scooted over to make room for me. I didn’t bother looking at my father, I just stared at the ground without a word and ignored him. Why the elusive ghost decided to show up now, I didn’t care, he could stay gone and it wouldn’t make a damn difference. You can’t buy back all the time lost.
“I-I came back to see you boys,” he said slowly, looking at my mother for approval, she nodded stiffly, “I realized, that running to all of the drugs, and alcohol hurt you all. I wanted to make amends, at least with my sons.”
“When I heard Austin was graduating,” he said, looking over to me, “It finally hit me, after all those years of running, I was selfish, and what I did wasn’t right. I wanted to come back and try to be a Father, like I should've been.”
“After thirteen years you decide to come back?” I lifted my eyes and rested my head on my clenched hands.
“I won’t try and justify what I did,” He said, “But yes, after all this time I realized-”
“That we needed a father before this.” Sean interrupted, glaring at him with all the fires of hell ignited in his eyes.
“You did, and I failed all of you.” Dad grimaced at the words and tried to get one of our eyes, but they were all facing the hardwood.
“Don,” Mom chimed in monotonously, “They’re not going to be jumping for joy, neither am I. Try and make a bit stronger of a case if you want any form of sympathy.”
“I missed so much of your all’s lives,” he said, “I don’t want to miss anymore of it. I should’ve realized that my boys needed me.”
“Yeah, we DID need you.” Zach said pointedly, breaking his silence and staring him in the face.
“You really think that coming back so many years later and saying "I'm sorry" is gonna fix everything?” I asked, stopping him as he opened his mouth.
“I don’t expect it to,” He said, “But I just want a chance to make it better is all, make amends.”
“You really think just popping up,” I snorted, “And saying that you want to make amends is going to get us to want to spend time with you?”
“I can never-” He tried to speak before Sean interjected again.
“Yeah, you can never take back how many goddamned times,” Sean shouted, “We all thought you didn’t give a shit, and that we weren’t worth anything because of it.”
“They needed you a long time ago.” Mom interjected Sean’s angry rant with the cold breeze of her voice, “You showed you didn’t want a family, you showed you didn’t care about your kids. Why should we believes you’re actually sorry, and want to be a dad?”
“I can’t tell you anything that will convince you,” Dad said, tears beginning to choke him up, “But I can tell you that I do love you, all of you, and I want to be a father now, and whatever I did in the past doesn't reflect what I feel now.”
I shook my head and stared at the man who helped create me. We all looked like him, all three of us brothers. We all had his strong face and height, same nose, Sean and Zach were like miniature versions of him, while I looked like the albino model with my blonde hair and blue eyes.
His eyes were swollen from the crying, but that didn’t phase me. He never saw, or cared about how much we cried and how puffy our eyes got after he left. How many times my brothers and I asked my mother "When is daddy coming home?" and "Does he still love us?". A question which she struggled to answer for the entire 13 years that he was gone. So his tears really didn’t mean a damn thing to me, he deserved to be ignored after how abandoned we'd all felt.
“Fine,” Zach muttered, looking up at him, “You want a chance, I will give you one, whether these two will or not isn’t my decision.”
I looked over at my kid brother, who’d grown up so much, and I saw the fire burning in his eyes. He wanted to see if he would live up to his promise, he wanted to know how much determination was in my father.
“You know what,” Sean said, “Fine, you can be in my life, you’ll leave soon enough anyways, but you can have a chance.”
Sean’s eyes were different. There was fire in them, but this fire wanted to see my father fail miserably at this task. It wanted to watch him fall and prove how incapable of love and compassion he was, it wanted my father to feel pain, and the hopelessness that had been with Sean almost all of his life.
“Thank you, both of you.” He said, tears welling up in his eyes, he turned to me, awaiting a similar proclamation, but he just got a cold stare in return.
“I couldn't care less what you do.” I said, “I’ll have to see you because you’ll be around them, but that doesn’t mean I want to see you. I just won’t take that away from them.”
“You didn’t care about me for so long,” I said, getting up, “Now you get to see what being rejected feels like.”
He tried to stammer something out, tried to grab my arm, but I yanked it out of his hand as my mother held him back and I walked out with the loud slamming of the oaken door. I pulled out my keys and started the car, revving off of my street and headed whichever way I felt like. My phone buzzed several times, and after ending up at a dock I had come to as a kid, on the eastern side of the city that overlooked Lake Michigan. I stepped out of the car and pulled out my phone, sitting on top of the hood of my car and looking through the messages.
Most were from Sean, Zach, or Mom, all saying they understood I needed to clear my head, but they were worried, and to call the. There was another one from Michael that just said Hey. The only other one was from an unknown number, assumably my father.
I love you son, and I’m sorry. That’s all it read. I resisted the urge to throw my phone and see if it would skip across the water, instead, I called the only person I felt I could rely on.
Lily, meet me by the dock near the beach. I need someone to talk to. My dad was there when I got home.
I shoved my phone back into my pocket and waited, and waited. I looked out at the sun as it reflected off of the water and hit the windows in all of the skyscrapers. There were a few clouds out today, but it was still a nice temperature, and the sun was still out as of yet.
I heard Lily’s car as it drove in, finding a spot and then finding her way out of the two door sports car. Someone was with her, but I didn’t pay any attention as she walked over to me swiftly and wrapped her arms around me. I had never felt so weak when I fell to the ground and wept like the lonely child that had just been released again.
“Just calm down sweetie,” She whispered into my ear, “You just need to calm down, Darrian and Michael are with me. They came here because they care about you.”
I was shaking while she held me, body going cold and seizing up as I choked on my own sorrow. Sean and Zach didn’t have as many memories of Dad. I still remembered when he used to carry me on his shoulders, take me out for ice cream on Sundays. I still remember all of that, I could still remember him. It just made his sudden infatuation with drugs and alcohol that much more of a punch in the gut.
I felt Michael’s hand on my shoulder and I could hear Darrian whispering a quiet prayer for me. Lily let go of me for a moment, and I could tell she and Michael were exchanging hushed words. She reluctantly scooted to where she was simply by my side, holding my hand while I collapsed into Michael completely. A sobbing, horrible mess.