I knew he was dead and that his body was cold and lifeless. Yet I was so afraid, not because I was so close to the work of death but rather because I couldn’t shake off his ever looming presence. It seemed to remain in tack and ever more powerful. It played itself out boldly and loudly within my head making sure to announce that this wasn’t his end.
My father like many others had a taste for perfection. His cigarettes were imported and his suits were made with every detailed attention. His soft hand-stitched suits that were made by the human eyes and somewhat lacking that acute perfection he seemed to praise and chase. Yet he still wore them, I guess it might have been the price that was attached to the clothing that mattered most to him. The idea that he was wearing individualistic pieces that could never be remade might have added to his inflated ego. Yet my father desired us all to rotate and function like a well-oiled machine passing down materials on a fast-paced conveyer belt like every other kind of knockoff. Yet my father could never allow his family the luxury of being one of a kind like him, he was the bold and beautiful well we were the clean-up crew.
I often thought he never loved me not the way a father should love his only son. In his eyes, I believed I was the thorn that never seemed to vanish even after vigorous pruning of rose beds. I think when he looked at me he saw all the fears that he had squeezed into a tiny pink pill of happiness. That he swallowed down regularly with his morning gin. I want to say I’m thankful for his presence in my life and that in some way it nourished me but the fact is he was never there. You could tell when my father had been around as he seemed to leave behind cigarette stains, bundles of cash and broken jaws. His life’s mottos to me always carried a distasteful tone as his hands had a pension for self-hatred and violence that was always on display. My mother and I were his muses when it came to nauseating distaste and gun-wielding madness.
I’d thought that my obsession with remedies and mind-numbing toxins must have been inherited from my father but the truth was I had obtained it from another life role model. She was the elegant tall slender lady that onlookers admired and men swooned for. Yet my mother was so unaware of time and space, she drank the days away and snorted the nights into white lines of confusion and tears. In simple terms, my mother always seemed to be spaced out. I think she did it because she had realized that her marriage was not worth the mental drainage. I think one day she got up and it was clear that it was too hard to be a perfect machine nonstop. I think it’s especially hard when you are forced to be perfect for a man who desires high and unrealistic standards to be held by other except himself.
When I think of my mother I find myself reliving this vivid memory of her when I was eight years old. I recall her wearing some silk robe covered in roses or maybe it was plain, I lose the details there as the memory comes and goes on a sombre loop. I remember watching the tall brunette dancing alone in the parlour with a pack of cigarettes in one hand and a glass of gin in the other. The sounds of jazz ripping through the speakers and her face stained with black tears. Sometimes I find myself falling asleep at that scene, me sitting on the wood floor watching a stranger drink their worries away.
I think we all get lost sometimes in the lives of others especially when they have this effervescent personality and taste that just never seems to slow down or quite. My parents seemed to chase the high life but had forgotten that all things that go up must eventually and inevitably come right back down.
I watched the door to my father’s coffin and waited for a sign that would tell me it was okay to enter. I stood at the door waiting to open it wide and see my father dead and gone. I had wished for his death for many years but standing at the edge of his obvious demise almost left me feeling lost. The door handle seemed cold and heavy as if it was stuck and unwilling to reveal my deepest shameful wish. Or was I so afraid of my father that I had formed some intricate lie to hold me back from the burning flames he ought to be consumed with? The fear he had cultivated in me had left me rechecking and assessing myself, in an attempt to appear good enough for him. The dead man still had a hold of me.
“Will you be going in sir?” A man in all black attire and a thick accent asked as he redirected me to my designated door.
“Yeah in a bit, it’s not like his waiting for me.” I laughed as the man’s face remained unchanged. “You know because he is dead,” I added in an attempt to make my previous statement clearer. The man remained unfazed and pointed at the door in a gesture that highlighted it was time.
I had found myself unable to move as if my feet were cinder blocks. I remained like the man unchanged and frozen deep in thought.