01 Feb Dad’s just stressed. . . I think
I could hear him whispering, always whispering.
“Dad,” I said, “is everything alright?”
He looked up as I pushed my head through his room doorway. “Don’t worry about me, son. I’m just preparing for something.”
I smiled and left it at that. He was probably getting ready for his interview this afternoon. “If you need any help, just ask.”
I’d heard him whisper more often since he’d lost his job. I figured it was just anxiety. He had been looking for work for close to two years now. And Dad was used to being a working man, his whole life revolved around that fact. Becoming redundant really took a hard toll on him. Especially when he could no longer provide for our family.
Despite the pressure which he put on himself. Mum, my sister, and I tried to reassure him that things were fine.
But words of solace fell flat on an absent mind.
“He’s been talking to himself again.”
Mum paused while cutting onions. “I can have Michael come over this evening.”
Michael was our pastor.
“It’s probably stress. I just thought I’d let you know.”
“Stress? You haven’t heard some of the things he says, David.”
At that moment Dad walked back into the main living area.
Mum looked back at her onions. I wondered if the tear which rolled down her cheek was because of the food, Dad, or me.
I wasn’t one to wake up in the middle of the night.
But tonight was different.
I looked at the clock and it was 2:52am, I had a fierce urge to use the bathroom. My blankets came off with a flick of my wrist, I slipped out into the cold hallway of our home, and then inched across the carpet.
When I passed Mum and Dad’s room, they were fast asleep, which was good, considering he’d been pretty down after the interview. Sometimes he would stay up watching TV, especially when he hadn’t had any job responses for a while.
While using the loo, I tried to keep as quiet as possible – sounds funny, but it’s true – which meant aiming at the bowl instead of the water in the centre. And I pressed the flush down with just enough strength for it to do its job, but not drag on.
The trip back to my bed was faster this time. But as I passed Dad’s room, I paused. There was a sharp noise emanating from his throat like he was caught between breathing and growling. It gave me the chills and goose bumps came to life on my arms and legs.
The room was tense with energy, regardless, though. I wanted to know if this was what Mum had been talking about. Only she was already lying awake next to him, the blankets pulled to her neck, and her eyes wide as she stared at Dad.
I inclined my chin at her as if to say: what’s going on?
Mum just shook her head and sunk lower into the mattress. “Go – back – to – bed,” she whispered.
Dad was speaking now, he had a smirk on his face like he was having a private conversation and thoroughly enjoying himself.
I craned my head forward; I had to hear what he was talking about.
“They. . .” Dad said.
I frowned. They?
“They’ll never know it was me. . .” Dad said.
My pulse quickened. But I stood frozen to the spot, waiting to hear the last of it.
“They’ll never know it was me. I just have to do it, no one will see it coming. . .”