At some certain point along the way, his home changed. Things weren’t in their usual spot, with some things seemingly vanishing. He missed the old crimson wallpaper, with the little avian patterns on it, where he would get lost for hours staring at it with his daughter. There’s a pelican, dad, she would say, and he would notice a cockatoo with a crest the size of its body. It must’ve been his daughter who rearranged his room and belongings; she had said she would, after her mother had gone, dad you should shake things up, it’s the best way to move forward. She was young though, his daughter. Didn’t understand the sentiments garnered upon material objects with time. He only wished she might have told him she was going ahead with such big changes, for now he couldn’t find the new spot for his house keys, and that nanny she hired wasn’t much cop either. That nanny must change her hair everyday; young folk messing with their hair all the time, at times he thought it was silly, other times he’d love to throw a bottle of dye at his scalp and see what the fuss was about. He’d done it once, at his wife’s bequest; too much salt in the pepper these days, why not get that old hue back on the noggin’, tall dark handsome thing you are. She often teased him like that, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Their son thought it was gross, but he was a teenager, he wouldn’t understand the playfulness of mum and dad married for decades. Stop holding hands, you’re not young flames anymore. He would visit the coffee shop every day he could, hoping to catch a glimpse of her behind the machine, her bracelets jangling away like birds on a wire while she worked the grinder. He knew they’d one day marry, meant to be and all that, she’d pour little heart patterns on top of his coffee, flourish the letters of his name with stars as she wrote his order down on the paper cup. One day the coffee shop had been closed, burst water main or something like that, and he’d been so distressed when the nanny had found him. He remembered her that day, angry yet relieved to see him, and my goodness did she give it to him. He protested to her, why do you care what I do, I can come and get a coffee damn it; but then his anger subsided into wonderment, for he saw the coffee shop window had a new display of tapestry and clothing – a strange thing to sell in a cafe, they must be expanding their business; he knew a lot of people did that these days. When they arrived home he noticed the white picket fence had been replaced with red bricks. He knew it had been old, but did they really have to go and rip out the whole thing? Measure twice, cut once, he’d always told his boy, and no doubt his young fella hadn’t been listening when he stacked these new red bricks. He asked the nanny if he could take a moment, he’d like to just check on his son, he liked to play with blocks in his room. The things they’d build together, he the father being invited into his son’s little domain, that innocent house of the infantile, where three little blocks can be a skyscraper, and just a few pieces of wooden track could be the launchpad for rockets into space. But he couldn’t find his son’s room, and instead of his little boy he could only see decrepit old people, God if I ever end up like that just shoot me, he’d say. His daughter would smile patiently and inform him that his son was just at work and would visit soon. Kids and their imagination. He wondered what pretend job his son had; moments like that made the hard times worth it. He’d work his hands to the bone to provide for his children, and they wouldn’t know, or need to know, of the sacrifice a parent makes. People would pretend all sorts of things, he thought, like that strange bloke marching around my room and calling me his dad. What makes folks so crazy? Still, he regretted that one argument he’d had with his boy; he only wanted what was best for his son, and sometimes you just have to trust your old man knows what he’s saying. Oh son I don’t care what you do, I only wanted you to get the most out of yourself. He is so capable, that son of mine. Why it was that he would ruminate under the frondescence of a poisoned nostalgia, he didn’t know. Maybe it was just that he wished he could change things here or there, maybe the outcome would have been different, another path taken, hurt feelings avoided. Truly he hated to hurt people, and the idea that he could even inadvertently let someone down was like a dagger in his side. There was a time when he had caught his wife in the bathroom, trying to cut her wrist or something like that; had he been there a moment earlier he might have stopped it, but what did that matter now? She had been in a bad spot then, his wife (or was it his daughter?), she’d got help and that one moment was just confetti in a vacuum. There were other happier times that he could muse on. Yet still he’d say it was his fault, should have realised, pay attention and you’ll miss it. As a boy he made his mother cry once – if she was still around, he’d apologise for an incident she’d most likely have forgotten. So much time had passed since, water under the bridge and down the stream and into the sea and evaporated away – why he’d spend any time recalling bad memories was a mystery he’d spent his entire life trying to solve. And at what point did memories simply become dreams, when such distance came between them, and who was to say the whole thing hadn’t been one big dream; he’d read science fiction novels about such concepts – being hooked up to some simulation while your physical body lays prone. But he didn’t know – the shoulders shrugged – he was just so tired, and knew that such fatigue usually meant there’d be a dreamless slumber that evening, with an occasional vignette, void of time or purpose, playing pellucid before his mind’s eye. He had often hoped that the final sleep would be like that – just a big cauldron of dream memories, like books on a shelf or waves crashing on a beach. He dreamt of a world where everyone was everything they ever were, old and young at the same time, but it hurt to try and comprehend such a paradox. Sometimes he hoped and dreamt nothing at all, for his mind would dull beyond reception, into a somnial tide, and only time would tell if the sleep was eternal. How funny, he finally thought, that time would tell if time – it made no sense at all.
Published by P. S. Clinen
Official website of Australian author and artist, P.S.Clinen. He has published two novels - Tenebrae Manor and The Will of the Wisp, as well as the illustrated poem A Boy Named Art. His most recent release is a poetry collection Vignettes - An Anthology. All of his works are available to purchase on Amazon. Check back often for more by this author, including poetry, short stories and other updates. View more posts