A soft knock on the door makes me look up from my drawing. A large figure enters my room, his head down, his face covered by long dark grey hair. In his hand he holds a plastic bag. He sits down in a chair, looking over me, his eyes sad, eyes that look so much like my own. “How is your art coming along?” His voice is soft, careful. “It’s okay, not a lot of inspiration these days. What are you doing here, Dad?” “You used to always have inspiration, no matter where we were.” His eyes shift from side to side. “Why are you here? I haven’t seen you in years. Why now?” I stare at him, trying to keep my voice level, but on the inside anger and happiness fight for domination. “I was around, wanted to see you guys, but your mum said you guys moved last year. She said you were here though.” “Yeah.” I fall quiet after that. I look down at my drawing and put my pencil to the side. “I got you some decent stuff. Your mum said that you always complain that they don’t have decent drawing tools here.” Dad hands me the bag and I take out a sketching pad and a set of pencils, all shiny and new. I open the pad and see a message on the inside of the flap. ‘For my one and only son. Keep creating! Love, Dad.’ I smile and caress the first page, so smooth and virgin, this was going to be so much better than the paper I had to use until now. “I didn’t know if I could actually see you today.” My head snaps up, I had totally forgotten Dad was here, I see a smile that is so much like my own. I try to find the words to explain what it means that he thought of bringing me these but then I feel a darkness press on my mind and my smile falters. I stand up, slowly moving to the bed, my movements already unsteady. Fuck. “Vic? What is going on?” Dad reaches out and helps me onto the bed. As soon as I hit the bed my muscles in my arms and legs begin to spasm. “Get a nurse, quick.” I whisper, more and more muscle spasms take me over as Dad leaves the room. It goes fast, the darkness rolling over my mind faster than ever before. I try to listen if I can hear Dad or a nurse return but I don’t hear them before I get lost in the darkness and lose consciousness.
I groan, slowly moving my aching body. I rub my face, all the twitching gone. I open my eyes and after a few seconds focus on the figure next to the bed. Dad. So he really was here, he really did come visit me. “Hi.” The word is spoken softly, almost shyly. “Hey,” I whisper, throat raw. I look around, searching for something to drink. Dad moves closer, a cup in his hand. He leans over and holds the cup to my lips, allowing me to drink some. “Thank you.” I smile but then fall quiet. Why was he still here? What was he doing here? “Can I… Can I see your pictures?” Dad eyes the neat pile of papers on my desk. “Sure. You don’t need to ask.” I try to push myself a bit higher up so I can see him better. “You used to get mad at me if I looked at your work without asking.” He picks up the pile and looks at the first few, appreciation on his face. “Really? I don’t remember that. I must have been really small.” “You were. The closest you came to hands were things that looked like brooms and heads that were rounded squares than anything else. Very adorable things.” “Rudiment stick figures.” “Yes, although you called them art and I had to pay to be allowed to see them. Everywhere was your own little museum.” I blush, I can’t remember this, but I can remember that when I was small I had always wanted to have my work in a gallery. Oh, how innocent my dreams had been. “Can we talk elsewhere? I don’t really like hospital rooms.” Dads eyes flit around the room as he puts the drawings back where he picked them up. I want to tell him that a hospital and this place are different but I keep my mouth shut. He seems to be uncomfortable enough in here, I don’t blame them, it was kind of impersonal and sterile. “Sure, can you get me a wheelchair? I’m not strong enough to walk right now.” Dad looks at me. “If you rather stay here we can do that too. I don’t want to exhaust you too much.” “It’s fine. I could use some fresh air.” I smile at him and get mirrored that same smile.
“So, why are you here?” I ask the question as we have quietly settled in the garden. “Why were you so keen on finding us now?” The questions come out harsher then I mean to but Dad smiles. “Because I’ve missed out so much already. How is everybody?” “Mum still works a lot. Anne works and takes care of Kevin. Chris is in high school, she seems to be getting really good grades and everybody loves her. Kev is in primary school and seems to have made some friends there. He is a happy kid.” “What about Adam? Is he still together with Tom?” “Yes, though he is not doing too well, he is in the hospital right now. His illness has come quite severe.” “Do you think it’s okay if I visit him?” Dad looks unsure. Adam was as much a part of the family as any of us were, that happens when you’re friends with someone from a really young age. I nod. “I think he’ll love it.” “I’ll go visit him soon then. The last time I saw you you were dating a guy-” “I don’t want to talk about him.” I cut Dad off quickly, I’m not going to bring up those memories again. “Okay.” We both fall quiet for a while, just sitting in the sun. I open my mouth, trying to quickly string words together before I lose the courage to tell him. “I dated another guy after him, his name was Jack.” “Was?” “He died. He got beaten up in a hate crime, died of his wounds.” I close my eyes, willing my tears back but they flow freely. A few weeks have passed but the pain is as bad as if it had happened this morning. I hear rustling next to me and then I’m embraced in a strong hug. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know that.” The soft words are comforting, the hug, the voice, all of it is comforting. We stay like that for a while until I calm down. Dad sits back next to me and holds my hand. “I’m going to take care of you all. I’m not leaving again, I’m staying here. I should have done this much sooner I see.” My throat closes, tears threatening again. All I ever wanted as a kid was for Dad to return home for good, was my one wish finally coming true? “Really?” I whisper, afraid he is not serious. “Really. I’ve been away for way too long, I should have stepped up and taken my place ages ago.” Dad squeezes my hand. I smile as tears run down my cheeks. Maybe happiness can exist.