“Patrick, give me a hand love,” ma said.
I walked to the kitchen, she handed me a drink for Da. I wondered if they would spend the day in different rooms. As I gave him the drink I wondered if he knew how I felt when he left. Did he care how I felt? Things had to be so proper; men shake hands; men don’t hug. I wanted a hug. I wanted him to say sorry I knew he never would.
I sat down facing the fire. I didn’t know what to say to him. I just sat, running my fingers over the threads on the frayed arm of the chair. Then he spoke.
“What have you been up to Patrick? Have you been good?”
“Yes Da, I’ve been helping ma do the shopping”.
He seemed to think for a moment. Then he stood up.
“Let’s see what’s for dinner then”. He said.
As I watched him walk to the kitchen, I remembered the last time he was in there.
Fist clenched, ma leaning back. I swallowed the image. But that feeling was still there; that pain in my chest. Should I have followed him in? I just sat there. Watching the flames dance in the fire. Like snakes writhing round each other, like the uneasiness writhed in my belly. I don’t know how long I sat there. It felt like ages. I should have followed him in.
Their voices were hushed. Too quiet to hear what was being said. I wanted be there, with my ma. He never thumped her when I was there. I was the man of the house. Men look after people. But I wasn’t a man. I was only a kid. So I sat there.
I heard him yell, Ma muttering something in the ...
... middle of paper ...
...und came like a growl. I’d never seen ma get angry.
A strange hush settled in the room. The pause seemed to have weight. Then Da spoke.
“I’m sorry Mary. Your right I should go”.
Ma slowly took a step back, her eyes never leaving him.
He stood as if waiting for something. Then Ma spoke.
“This time you stay gone”.
He didn’t speak. He just walked slowly into the parlour. Ma’s eyes, bright and bruised, followed him all the way.
I didn’t follow him. I knew he’d just slip out the front door again. So I stayed, silent with ma, until I heard the door click. I knew something: I was the man of the house, just the two of us, she didn’t have to say anything. I never saw him again. But me and ma were ok. The kids still chanted.
Has no da.
Ha ha ha.
I didn’t listen to them. Stupid kids. I didn’t need one now. Me and ma can look after each other.
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