by A.N. Irvano

This routine of mine started a few years after my mom died. I’m not starting off telling it like that because I’m desperate for commiseration. I’m not telling you any of this so that you have sympathy for me; you wanted to hear it.

I wasn’t a party animal like my dad says, I was so much worse. If I was that person, I wouldn’t have this history to tell you at all.

Around the time my interest in online forums and certain RPG games was burgeoning, my dad began to stop in at the door of my room and watch me dolefully. I could tell he had been crying by the vermillion pigment around his eyes. He was guileless and for a long time I thought he was without pretense, a man that has lost everything surveying what he has left, as I would be if I lost you, my dove.

“Why don’t you go out, son?” would be typical to hear from him.

I would point to my computer and say something like, “Because I’m doing this.”

He would watch me for a few minutes and I would go back to the screen, then he would lift his hand off of the doorframe and leave to his room. I would see the way his hand shook for a brief moment before he left the dimly lit doorway.

Then one night he said, “Go out with friends some time. Here, take my car and go enjoy yourself with your friends. It’s important to have some real life experiences.”

I looked him in those glassy eyes of his. After a beat of scarcity in our dialogue I nodded, smiling. “I’ll make plans with them. Thanks, Dad.”

He gave me a smile that I was afraid would leave before I could find a way to put a rope around it and pull it down to live in our house. There was a need for me to be what he wanted, or more so what my mom wished for her only son.

I started taking the car out. I would park underneath a streetlight in a parking lot I was comfortable in to sleep for a few hours, then drive back home. It became a weekly routine, like I said.

So, when my dad tells you I was an indulgent partier in high school, know that he doesn’t know what a lying loner I was. This is what I haven’t told you. This is what I don’t want to have to tell you.

A.N. Irvano has forgotten why becoming a writer seemed like a better career than anything else out there, but still holds to the idea that good writing that is both shocking and true can change the world. When not writing she can be found sitting in the same place at the same cafe or going for morning runs.