Is my prologue any good?
-Love Love Love, The Mountain Goats
"There's a difference between being a bad person and being a good person who's done bad things."
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I remembered, and that was the worst part. I remembered how strange it’d all been the night before. Earlier when I’d crouched down by the crack in the door to hear you and mom in the kitchen. And you never stopped yelling. Shouting about how tired you were. How sick and tired you were of all this ****. You needed to get out, get away. You were always good at running, Dad. And I remembered how I winced when you slammed your fist against the table and made the kitchen forks tremble in their cozy little drawers. And god how badly mom was crying. She wanted you to stay. We all did.
“Please, sweetie. Please don’t leave me here. I know you didn’t mean to do it, honest. I promise I won’t tell. I can’t do this alone! Please, God please, just don’t leave me here alone!” She’d scream.
Silence. That’s all that ever came afterwards. And then you tossed her a hollow I’m sorry and a slight peck to her soaked cheek, and then you swung the door open. I froze. My legs cemented to the hardwood and my grubby hands remained clutched around the waist of my stuffed fox. Do you remember how awful we both looked, Dad? How snot-smeared and tear-drenched my face had been as it scrunched up into the helpless sobbing of a toddler. You didn’t look much better. I may not have been that old, but I saw it, deep in the cracks of your pale eyes. You were breaking. The first chip had been made, and one day it would shatter us both. But you couldn’t stay. No. If you did that, you’d have still screwed us over.
“Why you leafing, Daddy?” I said through a gob of mucus. That really did the trick didn’t it. Damn near killed you. You got down on one knee so you could come face to face with the mess you were leaving behind.
“Chester…I have to go somewhere very big and very scary- ”
“But I’m a big boy, Daddy. I can be tough! Just like you, right?” I intervened.
“Yeah,” you spoke like the words of an old photograph, faded and corrupted “I know you are, but Chess, this place is different. I-I can’t let you guys get hurt anymore, so I need you to be a brave little man and keep Mommy safe, okay? C-can you do that for me, champ?” A tear trundled down your cheek, getting caught between your whiskers. Without hesitation I gave a quick nod.
“Okay. I know you won’t let me down, Chess,” he ruffled my hair a little “now I’ve got to go. I promise I’ll come find you two real soon, okay? I promise.”
“Pinky…p-promise?” I could hardly get out.
“Pinky promise.” You said, cool and calm, and then you squeezed my pinky tightly, kissed me on the forehead, and then left. You just left. No goodbyes, no extra hugs, no way of finding you. And you never found me either. You just slid into your Chevy and drove off into the north, leaving us out in the rain, wonder struck with what the hell had just happened.
I wonder if you noticed when I came bursting through the front door moments later. My soft feet scraping against the pavement as I stumbled after you. I know I saw you drive faster when you caught me in the mirror. I know you did. I screamed so hard my throat boiled, but I didn’t care. I just wanted you to come back home. I wanted you to turn around and come back inside, to take my pathetic hand in yours, so rough and withered, and walk me to my room to tuck me in. And then to kiss me on the forehead, and I’d still know you wouldn’t just leave us behind. But you weren’t going to turn around. You were never coming to find us soon. You were never coming at all. I remembered it all and that was the worst part. That’s the worst thing we can do, you and me.
It kills you, really.