One Reply to “1.12.2015 Journal Prompt”

  1. He says he’s not really our da. Never was, he says. And never will be. He says it through spit and snot and tears, and his words are all slurred. He’s been drinking again. He says it helps him get through the day. It helps him forget the pain.

    ‘Do you know how many minutes is in a day?’ he says. ‘Do you?’ But he doesn’t wait for me to answer, even though I have started the calculation in my head. ‘There’s one thousand four hundred and forty minutes. That’s a whole lot of minutes. And if it’s seconds you’re counting, well there’s a bunch more of ‘em. And each one of ‘em stings like fucking buggery,’ he says.

    ‘There’s eighty-six thousand and four hundred,’ I say.

    He looks at me funny, like I’m speaking a language he doesn’t understand and at the same time as though he recognizes me, briefly, recognizes the game we are playing.

    ‘Seconds in a day,’ I tell him.

    He almost smiles. You can see it in his eyes, even though his mouth does not betray him. ‘That’s right,’ he says. ‘And if you drink enough, and some more besides, you can miss a whole fucking bag of ‘em and the day’s a little easier that way.’

    I say he should come home.

    He scoffs and the air is spittle damp and he shakes his head. He says again that he’s not really our da and he says he don’t know us and we’ve just got to see that. ‘Ain’t no good crying over spilt milk,’ he says. ‘What’s done is done and it can’t be undone.’

    ‘Da,’ I say.

    He shakes his head again. ‘Nope, not me,’ he says. ‘You got the wrong fella altogether,’ and he spits at the ground near my feet and he shuffles unsteadily away. In one hand he clutches a brown paper bag and inside is a bottle of brandy. They’ve got brandy on special offer in the co-op.

    I run to catch up with him and I tuck some fivers into his pocket and I tell him I’ll see him later.

    ‘Not if I fucking see you first,’ he says.

    He doesn’t mean what he says. Not any of it. Not a single word. He’s just hurting is all. And he’s lost his wits a little maybe and he can’t see a way back to the man he is, and that man is our da, all the da we’ve ever had and all the da we ever want. The name of the man on our birth certificates, well that ain’t our real da. That’s just a man with a dick and he ain’t been in our lives, or our mama’s life, for near on twenty years.

    We take it in turns these days, looking for our real da and making sure he’s ok. He sleeps on a sheet of cardboard up by the toilets at the train station. The air smells of piss and bleach and it catches in the back of the throat. Soon as he’s sleeping, me or Kev, we lay an extra blanket or two over him and we stand a ways off watching him sleep. And in the morning we buy him a roll and bacon and a cup of strong tea, milk and two sugars, and he never asks how we know it’s tea just the way he likes it.

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