There You Were

Written by Joy Yarrington

Photograph by   Neven Krcmarek

Photograph by Neven Krcmarek

I texted you for Christmas. "Merry Christmas", it said. I put a smiley face with a nose. I know that’s how you like it. I texted you for your birthday, too. And Easter. And the Fourth of July. And Halloween. And April Fool's day. I got a text back on that one. I got so excited. Who would do that? The little blue bubbles piled up a mile long. Unread. Unread. Unread. Unread. Unread. Unread. Unread. It became a pattern.

On your birthday, I baked you a cake. You didn’t blow out the candles. You still made a wish, right? It moulded over waiting for your slice. It’s still in the back of the fridge, if you want it. Jamie tried to make me throw it out. You know her; she doesn’t get it. I told her no, that you would want some. Then she drank six beers. She’s lost weight, you know. You help her a lot. She’s been eating less and less and sleeping more. Drinking more too.

Jamie made me go to therapy. She says I need it. I don’t know why. The Mrs. Vengal there made me draw my feelings. I didn’t know what feelings to draw. I think she wanted me to be sad. I drew a whirlpool, like I’ve seen in the movies. You like drawing whirlpools, right? You once said it was relaxing just to go round and round and round and round and round. She looked at me weird when I did that. Jamie forgot to make me go back after that.

I went into your room today. I hope you don’t mind. I didn’t touch your Star Wars posters. I washed your shirt. It looked dirty. Jamie got mad at me. She said I was wasting water. How is cleaning wasteful? I put up your Christmas tree for you. You can put the ornaments on. Please remember this year. They’re collecting dust. The one at the very top, the only one you let me put up, is my favorite. You know, the one with the two melted candy canes in the shape of a heart that I got for you. I put it near the very top. It will look good under the angel when you put it up.

Why don’t you wake up to your alarm anymore? Every morning, it seems, I have to go in and turn it off for you. I reset it, though. I know you like hearing “The Final Countdown” in the mornings. Jamie doesn’t like that song anymore. She says it’s the stupidest song she’s ever heard. I thought she liked that song. That’s why she bought you that clock, right?

Jamie doesn’t like me, I think. She doesn’t take me to school in the mornings in your place. I have to walk. She just stays in her room. She’s always tired. And mad. She gets mad a lot more. She doesn’t want me to call her Mom, which is fine because I don’t want to either. But she says it all the time, even though I don’t ask. There’s something behind her eyes, something I can’t make out.

I fed Roger this morning. He only likes the orange flakes, now. Oh, and I found your Easter basket under the sink with his food. You aren’t good at finding them. That’s the third one this month. I’ll re-hide it, though. Don’t worry.

Did you get my messages? From when I called? You don’t like to pick up anymore. I know you’re probably too busy. It’s okay. I like leaving you messages and I know when you open them all up, you’ll feel so loved. Do you need love now? I miss you, Dad. I know I need love.

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