To: DAD

An abridged version of this piece was originally published in a special issue compiled by 3 Moon Magazine called TEXTS I NEVER SENT. You can read the whole issue here.

To: DAD

Remember in 2005 when you got a mobile upgrade and gave me your old phone? Well, after I’d put in my SIM, I discovered a text you’d written, hovering in your drafts, just sitting there, unsent. I doubt you remember it. Or maybe you do. I don’t know. Let me remind you:

The text that you composed at 3am, the day after you’d buried your brother. The one in which you were “higher the moon” and “staring out at the sea, that familiar blanket capable of such savagery.” The one in which you were “laying out mortality” and “wondering what becomes of the soul, of memory, of personality after we die.” The one in which you typed “I wish you were here, sitting next to me” on the granite boulders that lined the boundaries of your childhood beach. Remember?

 

To: DAD

Even though there was no name in the “Send To:” space, I knew who that draft message was for. I knew exactly who “you” was.

 

To: DAD

The “you” that the message was written to / for / about, was a woman. A woman who was not my mother. A woman who was not your wife.

 

To: DAD

Did you know that I knew? You knew that I knew, didn’t you? You knew I knew about you and “you.” Of course you did.

 

To: DAD

As heavy as it was, I kept this secret knowledge inside of me. It gave me power over my mother / your wife, to know that I could crush her at any time by screaming “HE DOESN’T EVEN LOVE YOU, HE’S IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE, HE’S GOT A GIRLFRIEND” and she would be distraught, even though she’d have no right to be.

 

To: DAD

I never confronted you about it. I wanted to, Dad, and a few times it was on the tip of my tongue. I was mad. Not in the typical stroppy teenage “you’ve betrayed my mother” or “I don’t want a new step-mum” or “omg you’re an old man with a younger girlfriend, so gross, so cringe, ewww” way. No. I was mad because I knew your love for her was unrequited.

I knew you’d get hurt. You would never be with her. She would never reciprocate. She was using you. She was taking the piss out of you. She would break your heart. I was mad that you’d been so reckless as to set yourself up for more pain. Then again, you were an old romantic poet: you lived to love, and to suffer love.

 

To: DAD

I am so fucking glad that you never pressed send. She / “you” / the woman didn’t deserve you, doesn’t deserve you, never did, never could.

 

To: DAD

I thought she ought to know that you’d died. Even though it hurt to compose a new text message to “you” (the woman that you so adored, the woman that you wrote deep text messages to when you were stoned and alone and grieving in your hometown 300 miles away from her, the woman that never loved you like you loved her) I did it: I did it because you loved her, because I love you, because it’s what you would have wanted me to do.

She sent a really lovely text message back to me. I didn’t reply.

 

To: DAD

I’ll never send these texts you. I can’t even if I wanted to because, when you died, I took your phone. I used yours instead of my own, something to do with mixing our thumbprints on a screen and having access to your photos. But I lost your phone one night when I was drunk so I can’t ever send this because your phone is gone and you are gone and it doesn’t matter anyway… even with your secrets I love you all the same and, until I’m dead too, your secrets are safe, hovering in my drafts, just sitting here, unsent.

 

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