Well holy damn, this story was not at all what I set out to write. I wanted to write something relevant to the real world in a slightly dystopian future. This ended up being a lot more based in reality than my usual writing.
I usually avoid writing this far beyond my experiences, but I’m fairly happy with how this turned out so I’ll release it. I hope I’ve treated the characters with respect.
The title is a tribute to this completely unrelated song.
If sad stories are your dig, you can find more of mine here.
Hope you enjoy it,
The future is uncertain. The world is racing towards an age when our parents’ generation will no longer be able to recognise it. When I look back on things now, I marvel at how much things have changed over the course of my lifetime while at the same time, so much has remained the same.
I never knew my father until I was already old enough to remember meeting him. The memory is vague but the day he first came home is one I carry with me. I remember that mum was excited. I don’t think I properly understood why, but I knew that something was going on. It’s strange, my memory of that day is dark but my mum insisted it was a sunny day whenever I asked her about it.
We were in the lounge room, playing or something. The sound of the door opening sent my mother screaming and running to meet him. It was an exciting moment so I chased after her. There he was, in the hallway dressed in that uniform I would always think of as a part of him. I felt frightened to see a strange man in our home lifting my mother off her feet. Mum says I was shy at first but quickly took to him, I remember he was difficult to see in the darkness that exists only in my memory of the event. He knelt down to my eye level and held out his arms with a smile. I have the most vivid memory of his teeth, to this day I can picture how I saw them as a child, like the jaws of a monster.
He stayed with us for just a couple of months. I think he meant to stay longer but finding work was difficult for him, so in the end he reenlisted for active duty. A family costs money and my younger sister had been an unexpected result of their reunion. As an adult with kids of my own, I understand how he must have felt making that decision, but as a kid I never quite got it.
Growing up with my Dad away so often really altered my relationship with him. When I was younger I revered him, he was my hero. He fought bad guys so that I would be safe. As I got older I started to resent him for not being there for me. I never thought of it that way, but I had a lot of anger inside me towards him that I couldn’t put into words. Whenever he was home we fought a lot. He became more distant while I lashed out more every day.
When the hurricane came, he was away with work. The storm tore through the country and hit us before we could evacuate. No-one ever thought it would be strong enough to make it this far inland. There was a lot of damage, but compared to most we were fortunate. The military was mobilised to aid with the recover effort but my father wasn’t among them. For me, this was proof that he didn’t love us any more. I was a teenager, I knew that everyone was my enemy and the only tool I had for connecting with other people was violence.
People on the news argued about the increasing frequency and destructive power of storms like the one that hit my home, whether they were natural, human driven or punishment from heaven. They said that global war was just around the corner, with Russia, Asia or the middle-east. I didn’t care about that, why should I? No-one I knew was worried, it was just something that happened on the TV. I had my own issues to handle. Mostly I wanted just to get drunk, high and laid. In effect I spent a lot more time getting drunk, high and into fights.
They say with enough practice you can get good at anything. I had gotten good really at hurting people. I didn’t plan on going pro with it in any way, but it was my main source of entertainment and stress relief. I didn’t like coming home those days, mum was the only person I didn’t like hurting and at the same time the only one I couldn’t stop hurting. Knowing I disappointed or upset her hurt, and I was still way too immature to actually do anything to change. So instead I stayed out, couch surfed and got into even more fights to release the self-loathing that gave me.
It was a pretty shitty cycle.
I wonder now what I might have done if things had been different. Maybe I could have gotten over myself eventually and outgrown my self-destructive nature, I wish I’d had that chance.
We got the visit while I was out avoiding coming home. Mum was alone, already worried about me when the soldiers knocked at out door to tell her that dad was dead. They said it was a terrorist attack, they were wrong but they didn’t realise until later. Mum never really recovered from the news. She got sick and was taken to hospital. The one thing I don’t regret from that time was that I came and saw her before it was too late. We didn’t talk about me, or about dad. We didn’t talk about any of the problems, because they didn’t matter. I kept her company but I had no idea how to connect with her, so mostly we sat in silence. I think she appreciated the effort at least.
She didn’t last much longer. My parents death really shook me out of the selfish pit I’d dug for myself. I won’t lie and say I got my life on track right away, the road out of hell is treacherous and slippery, after all.
Joining the military seemed like my only option at the time, now it seems like it was some kind of symbolic reconciliation with my father. Whatever the reason, I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes my daughter. I can’t promise you any certainty for the future, except that I will always love you.