Ever since I was a little kid I have always loved to write no matter what was going on. I was a synchronized swimmer back in high school and ever since then I have tried my best to pursue my career in writing whether it be with internships or working with small newspapers.
Once again, he showed up at a town event drunk. We had an event to celebrate another year of our small town every second Saturday of November. Everyone showed up. There were lights, food, and smiling people. It was probably one of the happiest events of the year, but as soon as dad got there everyone just stared.
They've been doing that quite a lot every time he arrives. He was never the same again after mom passed away. Mom was the “rock” of the family. She kept us all grounded and always knew what to do. Her words knew how to stop any war you were having with your inner self and most of all she made dad happy. They were the “high school sweethearts” of their time. No one could top them. She made dad into a better person and when we lost her it was like he lost a big part of himself. His usual confident strides turned into shaky uncertain steps and his determined strong voice turned into slurs no one understood.
He's a mess. How does he even provide for his daughter? No wonder he doesn't have a job. I tried not to take any of what anyone said to heart. They didn't know what he had been through.
“Come on dad,” I said as I tried to keep his body upright. “Let's go home and get you into bed.”
“No,” he slurred. “I need another bottle.”
“Okay dad, we can get you one at home, where you can be more comfortable watching tv.”
I tried to do everything that I can so that he would give in and come home with me and it worked. The cab ride was much longer than the usual with dad arguing with the driver about how slow or fast he was driving. I'm surprised we didn't get kicked out.
When we finally got home, dad went straight to the couch and turned on the tv.
“Where's my bottle?”
“I'll go get it, just lay down and rest for a bit.”
When I came back from the kitchen he was already asleep. I looked at him for a while. All those people didn't know him. They didn't know how weeks before my birthday he took extra shifts at work to get the present I wanted. They didn't know how no matter what he's going through he makes breakfast every morning for us. They don't know how he's the best person to talk to when you're sad, or happy, or even mad. They don't know any of that. They just see this man who lost his wife and is drinking his life away.
It had been a while, then I started to feel dad move in his sleep, like he was having a nightmare he couldn't get away from.
“No, no, no please. Manda!”
“Dad,” I shook him. “Wake up dad, it's just a nightmare.”
“I saw her. She was right in front of me and then she just disappeared,” he grabbed me and started crying.
It’s the worst thing when you see someone you love suffer so much. No one saw this side of him, the side that made me love him more than anything else. Everyone always just saw the big picture but I saw the little things that you wouldn't regularly pay attention to.
“It’s okay dad, I’m right here.”
He hugged me tightly and cried for a while. When he eventually stopped he layed down on the other side of the couch and went back to sleep. I walked over to him, kissed him on his forehead and whispered, “I love you.”
As I was walking up the stairs I heard the faintest sound coming from him.
“I love you too.”