No Sense in Forgiveness

My eyes opened to the discovery of frost clinging to my attic window. It may have been blurred, but outside I knew that several semi-trucks, cars, and Jeep Wranglers were speeding towards the church spires and office buildings a few miles away. As my eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness, I could see my breath momentarily pausing and reappearing as the air passed through the bitter coldness. Three heaters spanning my makeshift bedroom began to buzz awake. After several minutes, an orange hue was finally starting to fill the emptiness of my room, and the natural light outside softly complemented the warm glow. It was a comforting thought — the belief that the morning sky was waking up with me. The idea made my eyes drift backward, and I could feel my body retreating into the comforts of my alluring bedsheets.

This luxury was ripped away from me as the door leading to my attic room violently squealed. The overwhelming force behind it was all it took to kick myself away from the covers. My body, still recuperating from the restless night prior, fell helplessly to the tiled flooring below. A voice, raspy and deep, echoed through my makeshift room,

"'Ey, what the fuck are you doing? I'm sick of you hiding in your goddamn room all day! Get your ungrateful ass down here, now! I'm making breakfast!"

Perfect… that was the last place I wanted to be at. I yearned for more sleep, but I knew to attempt that would only cause me more grief later. But for a moment, my body refused to respond. I contemplated remaining in my awkward position on the floor, just so I could avoid any confrontations with my father.

But that fantasy was quickly halted just as fast as it came. There's no point in trying to hide from it, I thought to myself. Just a little longer, you only have another two years, and then you're home free. After a brief pause, I released a strenuous groan before finally lifting myself to a kneel. At this point, my exposed skin was beginning to remember the temperature, and I quickly prepared for the day. After a short sigh of relief, I was able to force myself onto my feet. I wanted to continue delaying the inevitable, but after several minutes of empty daydreams, I convinced myself to head downstairs for breakfast.

After filling my plate with biscuits, bacon, sausages, and gravy, I quickly sat down on a tall chair facing the dining room table. My father, who already filled his plate with as much food as he could, groggily found a spot next to me. He plotted himself down, looking up at me before stuffing his mouth sloppily. I could feel the bile rising in my throat as I continued to watch him devour his meal, momentarily forgetting about my own. I quickly covered my mouth in fear of gagging as he pulled out his smartphone. His screen quickly turned on as he used his messy index finger to tap on the "Camera" app. After repositioning his device, he captured a photo of his half-eaten dish.

"Wha' an awesome meal!" he exclaimed, "I'm definitely posting this on Facebook later."

Of course. My eyes briefly rolled. Can't he bathe in his glory somewhere else? At that same moment, my father reached out to slap me. It was a stunning blow, a slap that caused the fork in my right hand to drop back onto the table.

"Who the fuck are you rolling your eyes at?!" My father yelled. 

I briefly paused, "No one."

 My father let out a burst of whopping laughter so loud that it vibrated the nearby walls,

"You damn right it was fucking 'no-one.' I catch you rolling those eyes at me again, and I'll make fucking sure you have a reason to roll your eyes at someone."

My anger began to swell as I released a small exhale. I knew that I had to stay calm in order to avoid another battle between him and me. Quickly, I began to stuff my mouth full of food, hoping that it would counteract any urges I had to lash back at him. My brain couldn't stop spinning, I know I shouldn't act like him. I just need to remember that I only have to last another few years. I'll be able to get out of here.

After several minutes of chewing, my body finally started to relax. The window nearby allowed light rays to hit my plate, giving it a rather enjoyable glow. My father, whose plate was already almost finished, used this opportunity to start a conversation with me,

"I heard on the news today that the temperature's s'posed to be nice and cool. I thought about heading up past Northcreek to see if I can't get lucky on that one river off by the road. You're free to join me. I'll be up there for a few hours."

I looked up from my food, peering at him with a soft, somewhat innocent glance. You go fishing every day. I wanted to explain, haven't you figured out by now that you're the only one who enjoys it? Instead, I just shrugged at him.

"Nah," I said. "I have some schoolwork I need to catch up on."

I could feel his distaste from a mile away, "Devin, come fishing with your dad. Hell, all you ever fucking do is stay upstairs in that room o' yours and play those goddamn video games. You need to go outside, and stop acting like a little pussy whenever I ask you to go do shit with me. It's just for a few hours."

Again, I forced myself to breathe slowly. I knew he had a tendency to act like this sometimes. I could see all the warning signs as if they were painted right on top of his forehead. But I knew how to defuse the situation,

"No, I have stuff I need to finish. Maybe this weekend when I have more time."

After a second, he let out a disapproving scoff as he picked up his dish and headed towards the kitchen. He arrived at the sink, where he let the water soak away the leftovers of his meal. He set the dish down, turning the faucet off as the remaining food was scraped down the drain.

"Whatever. Do what you want, but you better make damn sure these dishes are done before I come home. Otherwise, everything upstairs is getting thrown in the trash. You understand me?"

I reluctantly nodded, continuing to slowly finish the remainder of bacon left on my plate. I could tell that my father was still somewhat dissatisfied with my answer, but I knew that there was nothing he could do to convince me to come with him. After a while, he finally walked away from the dining room, and into his bedroom. Once I heard his door shut, I released a quiet sigh of relief. Finally, I thought. I get some alone time.

My father's trip to the river was short-lived as a sudden thunderstorm quickly unfolded outside. He planned to be home later that night at around 7 or 8. Instead, he arrived home closer to 4:30. When he opened the door, I saw him carrying what appeared to be a 24-pack of Miller Lite, which he quickly found a spot for in the refrigerator. After two hours, the 120-liter garbage can in our kitchen was already filled to the brim with empty aluminum cans.

I groaned, already knowing what was going to happen. It was always like this, whenever something goes wrong or not according to his plans, he'd usually stay up all night drinking. As soon as I noticed, I was already preparing myself mentally for the shit-storm that was going to occur. I quickly reminded myself, Tomorrow you'll be going back home. I repeated this over, and over again in my head, almost using it as motivation. Don't get on his bad side. Just head upstairs, and pray that he doesn't ask you to come down.

After an hour, my confidence began to soar. My father, who I could hear screaming downstairs, barely said a word to me since he arrived home. I began to softly bounce back and forth, wondering if I would be able to make it through the night without fighting him. I was genuinely excited, right before my clock struck 9:30. Once it hit, my heart drastically sank to the floor as my door slammed open,

"Get your fucking ass down here! The Patriots are getting their asses whooped, come sit and watch it with me!"

I was so close. I grunted as I jumped off of my bed and once again headed down the wooden staircase. Once I arrived downstairs, I quickly found a spot to sit on the rundown black sofa my father bought when walkmans were still considered popular. When I looked up at the television, a series of highlights were already playing. Halftime, fantastic. Only another half an hour to go. I sank in my seat, attempting to ignore my father's wailing as best as I could.

It was after five minutes when things started to take a turn for the worst. From nearby, I could hear my father laughing maniacally as the pop from another beer can briefly stunned me,

"Didn't that negro, rapist stepfather of yours like the Patriots? I wonder how he feels to watch 'em get their asses handed to them by the lousy Indianapolis Colts!"

He continued laughing, but I wasn't amused.

"Him and your whore of a mother, don't you know they had a miscarriage in Las Vegas before you were born? I told you about that, right?"

That was a lie, my mother showed me all the health records. I was starting to feel my anger boil out of me.

"Then they kept you away from me for three years. Three! Can't you believe that?"

That was enough. By this point, I had already jumped out of my chair, swinging my body towards my father who was already standing near the entry. Before I could catch myself, I was already screaming,

"Don't you dare say that about my family!"

Just like that, the fighting started. I threw my right fist at his left temple. By the time my arm made it halfway, I could already tell I undershot it. My father stepped away, sending me spinning out of control. My father shoved, causing me to fall onto the floor. Before I could even think of recovering, he was already pressing against me, making any attempts to escape nearly impossible. He began to laugh, taking this opportunity to bring his hand back and forth against my face. The adrenaline made all the blows feel numb, but I knew that I couldn't keep taking the hits.

It was several minutes before I finally gave in, relaxing all the tension throughout my body. I could hear my father screaming at me, but it was drowned out by the sound of my own thoughts. I had a plan, and I intended to follow through with it once he finally gave up trying to flatten me. The wait seemingly lasted forever, but after several minutes of screaming, my father finally stood up. I paused, recollecting myself before staggering onto my feet and darting across the kitchen, out towards the door. By the time I could hear footsteps behind me, I was already halfway outside, running towards the busy road.

I continued running, rushing past the convenience stores, gas stations, and stoplights ahead of me. I ran for seemingly hours, only stopping momentarily for breath outside of a carlot near an abandoned restaurant. After several minutes of sprinting, I allowed myself to stop for another breath. I turned around, expecting to find my father nearby. Surprisingly, I saw no one. He gave up? I was shocked. Does that mean I did it? At that moment, I wanted to let go. To release all of my emotions that I hid within myself for so long.

Instead, I ran to the only place I could call home. My mother's house.

After an hour of wandering, I had finally made it home. Once I arrived, my biggest worry was how my mother would feel about me running here. She was always adamant about me toughening up towards my father, even though she felt similarly disgusted towards his actions. I gulped, knowing how upset she'd be at me. However, at the same time, I couldn't really bring myself to care that much. I shook my head, before walking into the front door. Once I was inside, my feet took me upstairs and into my bedroom.

I drifted to sleep as soon as my face hit my pillows. It wasn't until several hours later that I woke up to notice the flower blooming in my window sill. Its sudden appearance shocked me. I sat up, noticing a small slip of paper that was attached to the top of the flower. Now standing, I cautiously approaching the plant. I took a second to accept the oddity before grabbing the slip of paper, unfolding it to reveal it's contents.

Devin, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have lashed out to you like that. Please come back when you have the chance, I'll try to act like a better man. Love you.

Did he write this? My anger was coming back again. This is his handwriting. Does he seriously write this, and then climb up to my bedroom just to stick it with some flower? I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why would he do this?

After several minutes of re-reading, I felt the tears running down my face. Why is this here? None of it made sense. Is this a joke? Is he actually apologizing? I couldn't stop the thoughts from arising. It had almost felt cowardly, to see that the only thing he could apologize with was a letter instead of his own words. What does he deserve?

In the end, I ultimately decided that this was a test of forgiveness. That whatever this flower was, it was clearly a message from God. What else could it have been? After several minutes, I eventually set the note down on my drawer, before resting my head back onto my bed. I gave myself a moment to relax, trying to understand everything that had happened. Does my father deserve it? It was a question that I pondered for several hours, even after hearing my mother opening the door downstairs.

I felt no urge to continue loving him, but I knew that it was only righteous of me to continue caring. Maybe he does… I could feel my eyes start to drift into a slumber. We all deserve forgiveness, after all. I could feel body drifting away, my mind starting to shut down for the night. I shouldn't forgive him, after all the empty promises and violent threats.

But damn it… how anticlimactic would it be to just forgive and forget?

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