Authors Note: Just a quick apology as I'm going away for easter and won't be back at my laptop for a couple of weeks, so won't update for a while. Sorry! I'll just try to make this chapter extra great!
"You do it"
"It was your idea"
"No, it was Flo's"
"I only whispered it, you're the one who said it"
"Ladies, please. One of you, just do it."
"What about you, huh?"
"I'm too busy keeping the peace, what about Mike?"
All eyes fell on me. I'd been at the back of the huddle, ignoring my siblings quarrels. George, Flo, and Dianne, though they meant well, were the worst teammates ever. We'd started the following day with a brainstorming session, which in itself was hell, then Dianne had announced and idea (which was apparently Flo's originally) to ask our father for his input. I had been reluctant, but was happy to let them try, it was their funeral after all. My siblings were smart to argue over who entered the barrier into his room, our father had been in his room for days now. He only left for snacks and refreshments (mostly the alcoholic kind) or the occasional necessary bathroom break. None of us had dared bother him in this state, until now. Then they had gotten too smart however, and turned to pick on the youngest sibling, trying to pressure him into entering the danger zone.
"I never wanted to do this in the first place" I reminded George, who had come up with the idea for me to do the deed.
"Go on Mikey, take one for the team" George urged me, making a ridiculously pouty face.
"Please Michael" Flo backed him up, leaning in closer to me.
"No" I told them, "no way. Not me, you sort your own mess out."
"Come on, we're all in this together remember" Dianne pushed me. They leaned in, closer and closer...
"Fine" I gave in, "if I'm not out in 10 minutes, come in after me" they murmured in agreement, George did a small victory dance, and they huddled me towards the door.
I placed my hand on the doorknob, holding it so tight my knuckles went white, I twisted it to the left, and gave it a light shove, taking a step inside.
My parents room was unrecognisable. What was once a light, airy space full of hiding under the covers and burnt breakfast in bed, was a messy cavern. The curtains had been pulled shut with such force that some of the dark fabric had fallen from the rack, allowing a crack of sun into the room, dimly lighting it's walls. At my feet was pile upon pile of laundry, the majority of it was my mom's clothing, torn and ripped, as if all my father's anger had been taken out on the flimsy lingerie and fluffy cotton. An off-putting stench of masculine body odor forced it's way up my nostrils, making me gag at the sweaty and damp smell. I took a step forward, and my foot landed on a cracked photo of our family, the same one that lay in my room, my mum's face was no-longer a face, and now just an array of shards and torn paper. I spotted my dad on his side of the bed, gazing off into nowhere. As I neared his lifeless body, a new smell of drink battled with his odor, and as I turned the corner I saw why. Shot glasses, beer cans, wine bottles, scattered at his feet. Not all had been drunk, some had been spilled at his feet, as I passed through them they wettened my shoes. My dad seemed oblivious to my presence, he didn't even flinch when I sat down beside him. He just sat there, gazing. When I looked into his pupils I couldn't get a clear view of what he was looking at, I just saw a black dot, surrounded by a cloudy grey iris. I wondered what to do; Did I speak? Did I sit? Did I run?
"I miss her too" I decided to say, recovering the smashed photo from behind my back, sweeping away the smaller glass crystals so you could almost see her face. I placed the picture on my dad's lap, rubbing his back softly in an effort to wake him up from his state. "And I know you didn't kill her" I added, the only response I got was a single tear which ran down his cheek slower than his breathing. "We all believe you dad" I repeated my point, biting my lip to hold back my own tears. Still, no reply left his pale lips. "We're going to find who actually did this dad, and then we're going to make them pay, I promise" I assured him. Then, when he still remained silent, I gave up. Taking care not to crease the covers, I stood up and backed towards the door. I was a single inch away, when he made me stop.
"No" his voice wasn't any different than normal, it's wasn't horse from tears, nor loud from anger, it was practically spoken in monotone.
"What?" I turned slowly, his still had his back to me, but at least he was talking.
"Y..y..you sh...shouldn't....shouldn't g get involved" he shuddered, taking gaps between his words, as if fearful and tense.
"We can't just do nothing, they think you're the one who killed her" I replied, happy to actually be replying, having a conversation with this ghost of my father.
"They k...k..killed your mother. They might k...kill you too" he continued to speak in his dislodged way.
"NO!" He spun around in a flash, interrupting me mid-sentence. His posture was hunched, his fist was rounded, and his eyes, oh his eyes... They were wide and pale, with such emotion and horror the devil himself could not have worn them right. I jumped back, reached for the handle to open the door and run. "No, Michael, wait" he urged me, his voice quieter and his eyes more relaxed. I paused, dropping my hand to my side.
"I'm waiting" I didn't step away from the door though.
"Please Michael, don't be afraid of me, everyone's afraid of me, even I'm afraid of me. Not you, not you too, please" he cried, dropping to his knees with his head in his hands. I walked over shielding him in my arms. "Please, please Michael" he begged.
"Shh dad, it's okay. I'm not afraid of you" I promised him, "I'm not afraid of anything, not my siblings, not you, not even whoever killed my mother. That's why I have to find them dad, to show them we're not afraid, do you see? Do you understand?" I asked him, speaking in a calming whisperer.
"I, I understand Michael" he rested his head in my arms, "just be careful, I can't loose you when I've already lost myself."
"You'll never loose me dad, never. And you haven't lost yourself either, because this boy I'm cradling in my arms, he is my newborn father, and he's going to grow and develop into a big strong man, and do you know how I know this? Because he helped me to do so myself" I cooed. I stayed with my dad, tucking him into bed and febreezing the room. I made a mental note to clean up the liquor puddle later on, and fix the curtains while I was at it. Then I wrote a real note and left it on the bedside table for when my dad woke up,
I love you dad.