“Your father died.”
The voice in his head enunciated each word with no emotion. For days on end the voice would drone on, as if he needed more reminding that his old man had recently passed away.
“Oh, shut up.” Taking a few steps forward, he looked down at the lake’s surface. A scowling, dishevelled man stared back at him. For a moment he thought he saw a silhouette of his father standing behind him, placing his hands on his son’s shoulders with a smile before vanishing into thin air.
Teardrops landed on the lake, morphing the man on the lake’s surface. He wasn’t sure what kind of tears he was shedding. Was it due to sadness? No, it could not be. Ever since that moment, all he felt for his father was betrayal and anger. But why did he feel pain? Why did he feel like the world had just touched his heart and ripped it apart?
After he allowed a few more tears to flow down his cheeks, he turned from the lake and sat by the lone statue on its banks. “Where are you?” he whispered to himself with a sense of longing.
She was merely a stranger, a stranger that played the sole role as a listening ear during these troubled times. It had only been three days since they met. In that short time, she had become his confidant, the only person he could truly trust.
Seconds passed, then he heard the sound that heralded her arrival. For the first time in days, he felt relief. For a moment, grief escaped him. For a moment, he was liberated.
A chuckle escaped his lips. “That was quick.” He shifted to his right; the space he’d chosen to sit wasn’t exactly suitable for two. With grace she moved to his side. Nothing changed since they last met. Her blonde hair was still bright, and the unusual glow that emanated from here was still there.
“Call me, and I’ll be here,” she said. No hint of emotion escaped from her features. Her lips were pursed together, and beyond her blue eyes, there was nothingness. And yet, her voice was warm. “You wish to talk?”
He nodded. “He… he just died.” His voice cracked.
“Ah, death. The thing many of us fear, though many of us know it is inevitable.” After a pause, she said, “You were not very fond of him.” Her words sounded like a melancholic song. He itched to ask her if anything was wrong, but he knew he would receive no response. She wasn’t much of a storyteller.
A series of images flashed in his mind. The first was of a New Year’s celebration. The night sky was lit up with a plethora of colours. He saw himself sitting on his father’s shoulders. He felt triumphant, untouchable. With a beaming smile he looked at her mother. She smiled back. The happy memory was then overrun by an image of their old home. A note was on the dining table. The words “I’m sorry” were written by a familiar hand. For weeks she’d worked tenfold. One had their limits however, and when she had reached hers, he was left to pick up the fragments of what was once her soul.
“I watched my mother fall apart because of him,” he said with a sigh. “I used to think he was the best father in this world. After he left, I felt no love. I hated him.” His eyes turned downwards, blinking away his tears. “But he was still my father.”
“It is truly ironic, the way humans think. Often times, it’s only when it’s gone that we realise what we truly had.” From the corner of his eye, he could see her smile. “When he fell apart, you were there to support him. Despite your past, you were there for him. It’s no surprise his death brings you sadness.” Her expression was solemn, and her voice continued to sound increasingly sad. “And once you’ve rekindled what was lost, he had become the father you once saw.” She turned to him, blue eyes widening. “I am so sorry. It was not my place to speak like that.”
“Please, don’t apologise. You’re right, he is, was, a wonderful man. But I’ve always put him under a negative light. When he contacted me, I tried to push him away, but— ”
“You are selfless. You try to push away their faults. You always find good in other people.” Her voice was full of finality. She might as well have pulled the words right out of his mouth. “And you did. You’ve forgiven him, and you made peace with your past.”
He laughed in an attempt to lighten the mood. This didn’t seem to faze her at all, and his smile immediately turned to a frown. “You might as well have read my mind.”
Her laugh sent birds flying. It had a soft sound, but its echo bounced against the trees. One could easily mistake it as wind chimes. After a few seconds she stopped to compose herself. She stood up facing him, a hand outstretched. Without a second thought he took her pallid hand and clasped it between his.
“You’re right,” she said, her eyes fixated in the distance. Slowly she turned her face until those azure eyes were staring into his brown ones. “I did read your mind.”
She closed her eyes and chanted. “Your father died. Your father died. Your father died.” Her voice once again lacked any emotion. But her expression changed. For the first time, her lips curled to a smile. A mirror of the smile his mother had in his memory.
“Please don’t leave,” he murmured. He would do anything to stop her from leaving. Now that everyone who mattered to him had disappeared, she was the last person he could count on.
She replied with a soft chuckle. “Call me, and I’ll be here.” And with that, she vanished into thin air too.