Each morning he woke up before his children.
He walked straight to the coal stove and lit the fire. The water that he boiled was sacred. First, he used it to cleanse himself, then he watered the garden with the dirty remains. His mother’s ashes were buried in the garden. Their souls connected each morning.
He was a proud father.
When his girls woke up, their porridge was ready, their shoes were polished and their lunches made.
They had all archived the previous day’s indiscretions and together they prayed for protection and blessings.
Each new day brought new hope. They hoped that no one would remind them of the ugly sights and sounds that permeated the neighbourhood air and he hoped that he could be strong and resist the call to the bottle.
By noon each day, those hopes stood no chance.
They had to walk past the pub on their way home. He always saw them. They pretended that they did not see him.
While the other children played freely, their minds were always on what evening would bring.
Sunset brought feelings of fear mixed with fatigue. It was quite a nice combination. After all, it meant that the end of the horror show was near.
They would hear him coming from two blocks away. Cursing and hissing with each step. They said nothing to each other. There was no point.
As he entered their home, he hung his pride at the door.
God only knows that sort of beatings they endured. From the sound of it, a life sentence would have been too lenient a punishment for him. The silence that followed was worrying. The walls stored those sounds, tainting its memory for eternity.
By morning, the coal stove was ready to serve again and he was ready to cleanse again – just as he had watched his father do all those ugly years before.
Both girls ran away from home when they were in their teens.
The older sister ran straight into the arms of a man just like her father. The beatings and booze were warm and familiar. When she finally found the strength to leave him, she threw herself into perfecting her art as an actress. Her ability to go inside the head of the characters she plays is magical to watch.
The younger sister found solace in travel. She never stays in one place long enough to become emotionally attached. She practices as an intuitive healer, going around the world to help people heal their pasts to gain control over their futures.
As for the man, time has faded his memory. The framed pictures of a family holiday taken 40 years earlier hangs strategically in the entrance to his room at the nursing home. They look like every other happy family at Christmas time. When strangers ask him about the girls in matching red dresses, he simply says “I did my best for them. I hope they know that”.
So friends, I wish you love on your journey to healing and growth too. The idea is that when we know better, we ought to do better, right? Aluta Continua, I say!
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