by Tommy Mooney
DAYS universe. Written for my dad when I couldn't find the words to apologize.
As he sat, he felt a pair of hands wrap around his chest. He briefly glanced down at them, and at once recognized them, but said nothing to the person to whom they belonged. The hands remained there for a short while before he heard a voice.
“I thought I would find you here.” It was hardly more than a hoarse whisper, and Connor could tell she had been crying too. “I’m sorry, Connor, I’m so-”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
His quiet outburst took her by surprise. He felt her arms tighten. She pressed herself up to his back, her head coming up next to his. Her hair draped over his shoulder, and he could pick up her scent. She smelled like flowers. Her breath tickled the tips of his ears. Had this been any other day, he would have been quite flustered, but given today’s circumstances, his body simply lacked the energy to react.
“Then tell me.”
There was another period of silence before he shifted his weight as he brought in his knees, trapping her arms between them and his body. He drew a shaky breath before speaking.
“I never got to say I was sorry.” She said nothing, waiting for him to continue. “He and I had a fight the night before, and he had already left by the time I had woken up. There was nothing I could do to fix it.”
She continued to hold him. It was all she could do, for both him and herself.
“You didn’t call that night,” she stated.
“No...no I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was too pissed. Too pissed to even realize I was making a mistake.”
“You should’ve called. You know I’m always here.”
“And what the hell would you have done?” he spat. “What the hell could you have done?”
She drew her head back a bit, taken aback by his spite.
He immediately realized his mistake and hung his head.
She waited for him to relax his body.
“I would have told you to apologize. I could have saved you at least a tiny fraction of the pain.”
He shook his head.
“No, you couldn’t have. I would’ve half-assed the apology.” She could only grimace at his words. “Besides,” he added, “our little quarrel was just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been fighting my old man since I turned ten.” He scoffed. “What a stupid little shit I was.”
“Come on now, calm down. He wouldn’t want you to talk about yourself like that.”
“He wouldn’t care. He’d be too pissed at me for something stupid I did to care.”
“How come you never told me about this before? Every time I saw you two together you were laughing and smiling, looking like nothing could come between you. Was it all fake?”
“No, no, I loved my old man. Don’t get me wrong; he was my role model. Still is, even if he’s not here to see me grow up anymore.”
“Then what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know why, but I started to avoid him. I guess it’s due to the fact that I was a moody teenager with all the answers. Go figure, right?” She said nothing. “I loved him, I love all my family, but for some reason I never wanted to do anything as a family. Ever. No matter what, I would always make a big stink of the whole thing and ruin it for everyone. Man, did that hurt him. At the time, though, I only thought he was pissed at me, but I came to realize that he was just hurt. Hurt that I would rather sit alone and do, quite literally, nothing, than go do something with him. Sure, we had our moments of true joy and fun, but those were few and far between.
But now I realize what he was trying to do. He was trying to bring us all closer together. He was trying to deepen our bonds, so that when he died, we’d have only happy memories of him. But do you know what I have? I have memories of yelling at him, of being a smartass, of hurting him. And here I sit, drowning in my own selfishness and stupidity. If I had known...if I had known, that things were going to happen like this, then I would’ve been more than happy to participate. If only, huh?”
A small yet genuine smile broke out on her lips.
“I’m positive, that if he heard you just now, he’d be so proud.”
“Because he reached you. Even if it’s too late, he reached you. He taught you something so precious, so beautiful, that you’ll then teach to your kids later on in life. He taught you the meaning of family. Yes, it’s awful that you can’t share that with him now, but just think. He’s given you a gift that can be passed down to your kids. Cherish it; it’s all you have of him. It IS him.”
Connor stretched his legs out and fell backwards into her lap, catching her momentarily off guard. He opened his eyes and stared deeply into hers.
“I will. God knows, I will.”