Fiction: Doughy Babies

by Akosua Adasi

Long train rides give me time to think.
The smooth ascent of a quickly moving vehicle
the stillness that I can feel when the world is going by 100mph
I told my mother that I didn’t have anything to hide
I told her I was okay
That was before I nursed the light blue gin bottle I had stored underneath my bed
drank it with such desire
that my heart stopped beating for a second
and all I could hear was the echo in my bones
telling me
to let go
to dive in
to reach for the end

My father was broken for a long time before I realized that he was broken. And when I realized–when anyone realized–it was too late. When you’re younger, it’s so easy to tell your parents you wish they were dead, or that they were somebody else’s parents. And then you grow up, and you wonder what you would do without them. You want to love them the way you did when you five and you sat on your father’s lap and asked him to show you the world. But the strain has gotten too heavy, too tight, and now everything is just a formal arrangement. This is when you start to question how you will survive without them. This is when you have the greatest desire to hold on, but your hands are slippery and their bodies are slick.

Seeing my father swinging in the air, tied to the curtain rod in his study with his favourite tie, all the cruel things I had ever said to him came smashing through my mind.

“I can’t wait till you die.”

“I hate you.”

“Leave me alone.”

“You fucking bastard.”

“I hate you.”

And then I think of all the things I didn’t say when I wanted to.

“I love you.”

“I want to make you happy.”

“What can I do to make you love me again?”

“I love you.”

You can never erase the image of your once best friend, hanging from a curtain rod.

Long train rides give me time to think.

I loved too much. I didn’t love enough. Relationships are created to be broken. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Cassie was never an experiment, even though it made it easier for my mother to believe that. She wasn’t the first girl I loved either, just the first girl I had allowed myself to love. I was never scared with her. Why did it end? Why does anything end? Our breakup was slow. We just started seeing each other less, talking less. Everything became more formal. I avoided seeing her. She went on a date with someone else. We never even fought, in the end. It was simple and sad, we never fought. We were never angry with each other. I helped her pack her bags, rode in the taxi to her new place, and then I kissed her before I left. I still see her, and every time I wonder, why did it end? Did I really love her?

 

My grandmother died on a Wednesday. It was an uneventful day. Not that it didn’t mean anything. It meant everything. To me, to my family. It was like we were tightly woven and then one string snapped and we began to loosen. The sad thing is that no matter how much it meant to me, the world did not stop. London did not mourn my grandmother’s death the way they would mourn the Queen’s. There was no announcement in the news, no vigils were made. She was just dead. And I had to move on.

I couldn’t move on.

My mother never cried. I never cried. My father wouldn’t let us see him cry. Maybe that was his breaking point. Maybe there wasn’t enough glue to hold together all the broken things inside of him. He died two months later.

 

09-29-2013

Dear Diary,

Today I did a crazy thing. I was on the train when I saw Dad. Or I thought I saw Dad. He was wearing a gray parka, the one he always used to wear before Gran died, and carrying that red book tote he always carried around. I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to see him or talk to him. So I followed him. I got off the train and followed him, as he wove through people, always in a rush to get to his destination. I kept thinking:

Why is he here?

Does Mum know?

Did I imagine him hanging from the curtain rod?

Why isn’t my Dad here when I need him?

I followed him into a bookstore, and watched as he picked up books on cooking French food, and classic novels. Who was he cooking French food for? I watched him pay for the books from behind a shelf that carried books on self-help. Then when he left, I left too. Not before sneaking a book of poems off the shelf. I followed this man all through town, watched him as he drank coffee at a bus stop and browsed day old vegetables. I missed two classes, and lunch with Daniel, just so I could touch my father, just to I could look at him and stop thinking about how I hadn’t loved him properly in the end. Yet, I never spoke to him. I stayed silent, always watching.

I think I love him. Daniel that is. But how can you love someone you barely know? How can you love someone who doesn’t know anything about you? He’s just so kind and puts up with me whenever I’m drunk and tearful. Is that why I “love” him? Because I can find warmth in his arms if I need to? It’s just not fair, because he has a girlfriend, who trusts me.

I don’t understand how people can trust me.

I’m always wanting. I try to be kind, try to be selfless, but at the end of the day, my most used word is ‘I’. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of me to give to everyone else.

I wish there was enough.

 

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