[Reality Fiction] I watched the clock tick over from 11:59 to 12:00. Another day, gone, just like that.
Long drives were my pastime. I always went on my drives when I needed to get away from life. Sometimes I’d pull into an empty parking lot to sit in the silence. I knew it was dangerous, but here I could reflect on my day or whatever it was that was bothering me. I could see all the positives and all the negatives. Most of my life’s major decisions were made in the silence of Dad’s old truck. Maybe that was why I loved these drives so much. It was like spending time with him, something I will always regret not doing. This truck was still here, and he wasn’t.
I pulled off into the parking lot of a local grocery store, and made my way around to the back. It was dark back here, and that’s why I visited this one so much. There wasn’t a soul in sight. Hell, it was almost midnight. My wife hated when I went on these late night drives. Usually, I’d head out around nine or ten and be back by eleven. Tonight, however, my wife and I got into an argument. It was over something stupid as usual, but with work and the day of my dad’s passing approaching, it got to me more than usual. I needed some time alone, plus it had been a few weeks since I had last traveled into the welcoming night.
Dad was a good man even if he had a temper. He was the most hardworking person I’ve ever known – something I’ve tried to replicate all my life, but I’ve never been successful. If he had his mind set on something, you’d bet he’d get it done. I remember shortly after buying he bought my first car, an old, red beater SUV, and I broke the key off in the ignition. It was cheap and had it’s share of problems, but my dad worked his ass off to get me a ride. He always made sure to take care of me, no matter what he had to do. Unfortunately, when I broke the key, the rust bucket was still running and I couldn’t turn it off. I panicked knowing that he was going to freak. Upon calling him I heard a fair amount of expletives and there was some name calling, and I knew he was pissed off.
I honestly don’t know how he got the key out of the ignition. It was wedged impossibly far in there due to my failed attempts at getting it out before I called him. After I had heard him curse my car and me with it, I decided to just go in the house. A couple minutes later, he comes in my room resolved and drops the broken key into my lap.
“Now you’ll know not to put your keys on that damn lanyard,” he sounded irritated. I remember being so angry at him for being mad at me for making a mistake. Looking back, I know he was just irritated at his luck.
I looked down, and rubbed my thumb across that broken key. Over twenty years, and I still have that damn thing. I took a glance at my watch and noticed it was getting closer to midnight. I told my wife I’d be home by now, but I think I’ll just sit here a bit longer. It was nice out. The breeze flowing through my open windows kept me cool, and the gentle hum of the grocery store’s air conditioning made for a relaxing melody. Its funny how often one’s perception changes. During the day, the sound of that old unit might have been more annoying than relaxing; however, couple it with nighttime and a breeze, you could fall asleep to it.
I guess it was time to go back home. I cranked his truck up, and listened to the engine purr. It really should have been a piece of junk by now being so old, but I liked to think his spirit preserved the youthfulness. Or it could be my meticulous care over it. Nonetheless, it was beautiful and left just as he wanted it. On my way home, more memories of my dad rushed through my head. I remembered the way he hated social gatherings — something that rubbed off on me — and how he seemed the happiest when he was working on something. I remembered all the times I told myself I’d go see him before and after he got sick and I never did. I had let life get in the way, and that affected my parents. Mom was still here, though, and I tried my best to spend my days with her. Dad was gone. I felt it was my fault. That somehow he got sick from me not seeing him, from not just spending one day with him. If I could go back, and just get one more day to tell him I love him, or maybe just a thank you. A thank you for all the lessons he taught me, all the times he picked me up when I fell, and all the times he showed me how to be good man. A man who sacrificed himself for everyone else’s happiness. A man who never told me how much it hurt when I’d go months without seeing him. A man who told me he loved me and that he was proud of me on the phone just moments before he died.
A tear found itself in the corner of my eye, and made it’s way down my cheek.
Pulling up in the driveway, I checked my watch. I watched the clock tick over from 11:59 to 12:00. Another day, gone, just like that.
I miss you, Dad.
Wow, this one really got me in my feels. Just to clarify: my dad is alive and well. I’ll probably give him a call here soon. I went with this prompt because I wanted to test something new out, and then this story kind of just flowed out. I’ve never experienced such emotion when writing. I think this is what it’s all about.
I hope you guys liked this one as much as I did. It was hard to write.