Dad pulled his presumably luke-warm cup of tea out of the microwave and pretended to sip it casually as it sat uncomfortably dense in his hands. As I stepped through the door and took off my coat he gave me that look that made me feel warm again. I quickly shrugged it off as I gave him a cold, steely glare. I felt like a vacuum had sucked out all the warmth and content and love and had replaced it with cold, freezing air; as though Dad's cancer was some sort of cowboy builder.
"Why is that poisonous machine still in your apartment?" I asked, my nostrils flaring with rage. Embracing my Welsh ancestry I guess. When I gave him that question he paused for a moment, made sure I had registered a quick look of amusement before he started chuckling.
"Ah, son! Not even a hello then?" The confusion on my face made his burly frame shake much harder this time, he almost wheezed. That's when my eyes flew open even wider. He'd started drinking again. The low life.
"How dare you! Do you want everyone to hate you!?" Now that had shut him up. He tried to narrow his eyes at me but they slowly relaxed, at which point he started to walk through his 'semi-deluxe', open-plan apartment where he slumped in his armchair. I sat down on the two-seater sofa adjacent to him, not like he ever used it or anything.
"Now when were you planning on telling me you had this cancer hmm? I hope not at your funeral!"
"You weren't supposed to come visit me for another six days."
"And you decided to tell Lynette of all people! You honestly thought you could keep me out of the loop?"
"The microwave is from Grablum. Grablum is a very reliable brand you know." I gritted my teeth. I was getting tired of ignoring each other; I didn't come here to talk twaddle.
"I'm quite surprised that you failed at being a politician, you're brilliant at talking crap."
“Well I’m retired now; I suppose there’s no point in me hanging around anymore.” That’s when I froze. What did he mean? Oh of course I knew what he meant, and inside I was panicking, I just didn’t want to believe him.”
“What does that mean dad?”
“You know what I’m thinking rea-“
“HOW DARE YOU!!!” I bellowed. “How dare you even think of ending your life. Not now. You are not going to die on me now. Do you know how long I’ve been working for this? Have you forgotten what our agenda is? If there’s one thing we can agree on-“
“I know son. I know. But this cancer is terminal. You’re the first person to know that if that’s any consolation.
“You’re damn wrong it is not any conso-“
“Please, son, listen to me. Sometimes the pain can be seriously… brutal. Would you rather wait 9 months or 9 seconds? It’s going to happen eventually.” I shook my head in disbelief. Was he really saying this?
“Now you’re just being ridiculous. It’s like you’ve forgotten that I can cure cancer.”
“But it’s te-“
“Even terminal cancer dad.”
“Oh.” Oh!? Seriously? I face-palmed my forehead. “Now obviously I’m going to have to stock your cupboards properly, you’re going to have to exercise regularly, even if that’s just jogging. Yoga can sometimes help. And you definitely need to keep this from Gemma.”
“Why? The moment she finds out that my cancer’s gone, she’ll figure out that you helped me. She’ll realise that you care, why are you so insistent that everyone thinks that you hate me?”
“One, I don’t care about you. Two, if everyone thought that I actually cared about you, then my one and only greatest flaw would be gone. I know I’m trying to portray the figure of a good man, but no-one can be perfect.”
“Why not? If you’re trying to create a legend, you’ve got to be impenetrable. No enemy should be able to pick out your flaws and flaunt them to the rest of the world, I should know.” He sipped his tea carefully not to spill any on his shirt.
“But I’m not trying to be a legend. I’m trying to be a figure that people can look up to for what I do, not what I’ve done. Soon I’m going to die, probably in about a year’s time. At my funeral I expect some people may cry, but I need the whole world to cry. That’s why I need to make my charity known worldwide. I need everyone’s support, and to do that I need to create a humble, average-person sort of persona that can represent a movement against the state of agriculture in its current state, against GMO crops, against tampering with nature, against cancer. And I’ve met someone.” He looked up at me at this point, finally taking some interest.
“A reporter. She’s constantly undercover and works for the largest ‘conspiratorial’ and ‘controversial’ TV channel across the globe. With her help I now have a ticket to spreading the word more quickly. I’m going to start a revolution dad, but your suicide won’t really help solve any matters.”
“So are you just going to use this girl?” I felt a tiny pang of guilt in the deepest depths of my heart. I thought I had managed to fully suppress my emotions and my conscience? Hmm, clearly not.
“Unfortunately yes. Don’t start thinking that I actually enjoy the things I have to do to reach my goal.”
“No, no I understand. A man like you has to be ruthless now, just like I once was.”
We sat in silence for what felt like a lifetime.
“Well I suppose I’ll head off to the local market then. You just give me a list of the things I need to buy and I’ll be off.” We both stood up at the same time. He held out his hand for me to shake with a comforting, understanding smile on his face.
I hugged him. Then of course I drew away instantly.
And I finally managed to walk out the door.