Of all things to get the only thing I ever got off my old man was a birthday card when I was ten. He'd gone off when I was three and left me and mom and my sister to fend for ourselves. Mom never talks about him but my sister remembers him.
“What was dad like?” I asked.
She looks at me through dark, sleepy eyes, pushes her hair back from her eyes. Her arms are scabbed like she's been climbing up a rusty drainpipe and accidentally slid back down and scraped herself. “Who?”
I said “What was dad like?” with a straight face so she knew is wasn’t kidding. She smiles at me, and I guess that she's still drunk and I should ask her later when she's straight.
Anyway, the only thing I ever got from him was a birthday card when I was ten. It said Happy Birthday Mickey! And then there was a verse inside the card that went:
Now you're ten, and how you've grown
It really won't be long
Until you're a man, and fully grown
With arms both big and strong.
And on the front of the card was a picture, a cartoon, of a little boy wearing a hardhat and driving a tractor. But I mean, how would he know I'd grown? To be honest, I was surprised he knew where I was, we moved so often.
But the killer was, at the bottom of the card, below the rhyme, he'd added:
Remember, no one's got your back
I'd studied this card on more than one occasion, trying to work out some depth to what he was telling me. “Laura, what was dad like?” feeling lost for not remembering him.
She said, “I love him still.” she plunged the last remaining dirty dish into the sink and starting to clean it.
“Well I hate him. What was he like, though?” while drying the staked pile of wet dishes.
“‘I don't mean strict; more like serious. Like you, a bit, but smarter, taller and better looking.” Then she laughed and slapped me across the arm, “Dry the dishes,” she said just as she finished washing the rest.
It's funny, I learn a lot from my... [continues]
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