No Dialog contest < 700 words 6/2016 Prompt: Father. Word count: 535, 2nd Place
Deep down, I knew he had forgiven me for my outburst, but I still carried a tiny bit of guilt. I wanted to make amends but I didn't think it was possible. I wanted to take him out sailing and maybe throw in a hook and fish for a while. Then we could talk things over.
I would stop at the house and give the horn a quick toot. At 87, he would be a bit slower but still game to go fishing.
I stopped at the gas station on the way to the marina. I got a case of Corona, some bait and a bag of ice. He would buy a case of Budweiser, some bait and a bag of ice. Together, we would set out for the marina in silence.
With the sails up and the wind in my hair, I sat back and used my foot to press against the tiller and flew across the lake. I pulled a beer out of the cooler, popped the top and took a long drink of the cool beverage. I raised the can to my Dad. He would raise his can in toast back to me.
We would fish and listen to the water rushing past the hull, burbling like a mountain stream. It didn't matter if we caught anything. It was the act of fishing and just being on the water together.
There was so much I wanted to ask him. I wanted to talk about the things we never talked about. I wanted to know about his childhood, Korea and Vietnam. I wanted to know the man. I wanted to know my father.
But there would be no conversation, no dialog between us today or any day. My occasional words would be uttered on anniversaries of his birth and death and on Father's Day.
I kept sailing until I was emotionally spent from my trip through the past. I took my boat back to the dock and not ready to go home, I took a detour and slowly approached my childhood home. I parked across the street and thought about the words I so carelessly said as an eight year old child. Words he likely paid no mind to but in my young mind, they were so terrible. By morning I had wished he wasn't my father anymore and by that afternoon, he was no longer alive for me to apologize.
At eight, I wondered if I had the power to wish someone ill simply by uttering words. Many years later, realizing my outburst had nothing to do with his death, did little to ease the guilt in the heart of that child back then.
I would have liked to have had that adult conversation with my Dad on the boat. To have him let me know that all is forgiven. To have laughed at the ones that got away and gloated about the ones that didn't. To have him pat me on the back as we walked inside to cook up our catch and enjoy many embellished fish stories. I would have liked that.