So I decided this week to update this site and the ShadowCast Audio podcast site, don’t ask me why, just felt the need. In doing so I realized it has been 3 years since this was published and I’ve never put it up. So I’m re-releasing it here as I continue to try and find the motivation to get back after it. I currently have good starts on several stories as well as a dusty old novel manuscript that needs a run through, but I have to start somewhere. This is that start. Tempus fugit.
By Jason Warden
The words exploded from my father’s mouth, as if they were all one thing, a clog maybe, that had been threatening to choke him. My mother didn’t say a word, she never did. I watched her, not quite meeting her eyes as her face reddened, and she tried to push her palm through her face. Still, it was easier to look at her because she wasn’t thinking about me. She was thinking of how she would tell the bridge club, her family… the church, all at once, I was not just ashamed, I was angry.
“It’s not Tommy’s.”
Tommy had been my boyfriend since Freshman year. Dad liked him, if only because Tommy called him Sir. Dad’s mouth slammed shut and his lips became a thin line of white. I wanted so badly to be mad at him, but didn’t quite dare.
“I didn’t raise no whore.”
No, of course you didn’t Dad. You raised a girl, a girl who failed you… again. Maybe if you’d told me what I was supposed to do, maybe if you’d had time to talk; to be a parent. Maybe if you’d been there when I wanted to say “I’m not ready”. Maybe if I’d trusted you instead of fearing you, maybe everything would be different, better.
Instead I’m just another beginning and ending in the cycle. You. Me. Everyone. Eventually, we fail, it’s what we do. We’re failures at birth; we’re not cute enough, we have bad skin, we don’t EVER sleep, in other words, we just aren’t what you dreamed of.
Kindergarten was the last time I was perfect to anyone. Remember Shannon, my first BFF? Somehow she couldn’t see the faults that you hated about me. The next year, she was forgotten and I had a new BFF. Even at six Shannon recognized what you, my teachers, even Grandpa saw every day. She could see that I was just another disappointment.
I didn’t say any of that, instead, I ran to my room. My pillow swallowed my screams until I was too tired to cry anymore. Neither of them came to check on me, to yell at me and tell me how stupid I was; to say they still loved me. The only comfort that night came after the tears. I lay awake late into the night listening as they blamed each other for me.
I called Tommy and told him. After school the next day, he beat up Steve in the alley. The next month before Steve and I were married at the courthouse. He wore his father’s sport coat and fading yellow bruises; I wore a simple white sundress, and bloodshot eyes.
His parents’ house was large, warm and inviting, but not to me. They looked at both of us the same way my father did. We stayed anyway, and waited for the beautiful child who would never come.
It was the doctor’s visit the week before delivery, and I knew when he walked into the room. I may have only been sixteen, but the look of disappointment on his face was familiar. He was dead, dead and probably already decaying inside my child’s womb, and still, I had to deliver. Did I say my tears were exhausted? I didn’t know the meaning of pain before that day. I held my dead baby, wishing somehow I’d been the one not to make it through this. Finally, they took him away and left me scared, alone and once again, a disappointment to everyone, including myself.
We never really talked about it. I hope wherever Steve is now, he knows I don’t blame him. I couldn’t, and didn’t expect him to stick around. He said he wanted to, but we both knew better.
Mother asked me to come home. A week after I did, Dad moved out.
She said she was sorry today, but didn’t say why.
“If you need to talk…”
What will I say? I don’t want to fail anymore.