It worked. I spent months consumed by the idea that the conversations Dad and I had had were false. He shared his heart with me. We talked about how much he loved my mom, even after being married so many years and having so many ups and downs.
Could that have been the fiction? Was I hearing something that he wasn’t actually saying? Did I actually know my dad?
I agonized over what this other woman looked like. I struggled to keep this imagined person’s voice out of my head. As every day passed, the gaping wound festered.
Until the day I declared I’d had enough. I wasn’t going to be dragged down further in my personal hell by a story that no one could corroborate. So, I purged the imaginary mistress from my mind and created the fiction. With the story below, I cauterized the wound. My memories of Dad are untainted once again.
I was having lunch at a small diner alone. Occasionally, a good book is the best meal companion. She walked up to me knowing who I was. I, on the other hand, had no idea who she was.
“You’re Katie, aren’t you?” she asked me.
“Yes,” I said without looking up from my book. I hate it when people think they can talk to you when you’re being antisocial.
“I knew your dad.”
I lowered my book and slowly raised my eyes to take her in. She was blonde in her late forties. Other than that, I didn’t really notice anything about her that was particularly remarkable. “Good for you,” I replied.
“I think there are some things your dad would have wanted you to know.” She spoke so brazenly. It was as though she didn’t realize the effect what she was about to say would have on me. The more I looked at her and her fake-bake orange tan, bleached blonde hair with roots starting to peek, and blue eyes that were far too blue not to be contacts, I realized what she wanted to say.
“I don’t really care what you think,” I said. “There is nothing you could have to say that I want to hear.”
“I think you’ll change your mind…”
I interrupted her by slamming my fists onto the table. My water glass fell over soaking my book. “Listen, I don’t know who you think you are, or what you think you know about my dad, but you’re wrong. Now get away from me before I really make a scene.”
“Your father and I were…”
“You are nothing to me but a worthless whore! If he had given a damn about you at all, he would have left my mom or at the very least told me about you! But he didn’t, and since he’s been dead now for three years you waltz in here thinking what? That we’re going to best friends? Why the FUCK would I want to know the bitch that my dad occasionally nailed?”
“It wasn’t like that.” She hadn’t expected me to react so violently. Of his three daughters, I was the closest to Dad. We worked together and grew closer through that relationship. I guess she thought I would be the one to understand since I knew him so well.
“I don’t give a good God-damn what it was like. I…don’t…care.” I stood up and slammed my fist in fury again.
“I thought you’d want to know more about who your father was.” She took a step back from me, afraid that I would hit her next.
Tears crept to my eyes as my rage increased, “You want to take him from me. You came in here wanting to ruin every memory I have of him. It’s taken me a long time to get over losing him. And don’t you DARE tell me you lost him too. You didn’t lose shit! That man was my hero, my mentor, and my father. To you, he was just…I don’t even want to think about it. It’s not fair. Just because you’re a filthy whore, doesn’t mean you get to spoil my memories.”
“I am not a whore!”
“Bullshit! He was married! Obviously you knew he had kids, or you wouldn’t be here trying to destroy my life.”
“I’m not trying to destroy your life…” She attempted to put an arm on my shoulder. I shoved her without thinking about it. If I had been trying, I would have knocked her on her ass. Instead, she stumbled back a half step.
“I really don’t give a shit. I want you to turn around and take your nasty ass out of here. If you ever come near me again, so help me God, I will beat you. I don’t want to know you or anything about you. I have worked very hard to convince myself you don’t exist. That way, I can keep my dreams about my dad.”
“You deserve to know the truth.”
“NO! I don’t want the fucking truth. I like the fantasy and memories that I’ve built for myself. They comfort me when I miss him. They give me a REASON to miss him. And you want to take that from me. Well, FUCK…YOU!” I grabbed my book and shoved it into my knapsack. While my hand was thrust in the bag, I fished out my wallet. I threw a twenty onto the table to pay for both my five dollar meal and the embarrassing display I had presented. I threw my wallet back in the knapsack, slung it over my shoulder and barged past this bitch who thought she knew what was best for me.
The tears that had been welling in my eyes finally spilled down my cheeks as I approached the door. She had to have the last word, shouting after me, “If you want to talk, I left my number on your car.”
I spun on my heel and faced her one last time. I took in her ghastly appearance, and said just above a whisper, “If you come near my car again, I promise you will end up underneath it. You don’t exist to me. If you try to contact me, I will destroy everything you love, just like you’re trying to do to me. Fuck you, you self-righteous whore.”
I turned and walked out the door with my head held high. I thought back to the days of measuring and cutting trim with Dad. A smile crossed my face as my eyes glazed over into the dream I had so lovingly built.
I wonder why I was crying.