What Daddy Tells Me By Andy Tu

June 29, 2015 Comments Off on What Daddy Tells Me By Andy Tu

At night, I hear mommy screaming. Her voice rises like a police siren speeding toward our house. I rush to the window and cup my ears, but it fades away. When I crawl back into bed and close my eyes, it returns.

I ask daddy about it. He says that when pain builds up, it tries to trick you. He says I miss mommy so much that I create her voice in my head. She is screaming like something is wrong, but nothing is wrong, only that I hear her. I need to be stronger.

It’s hard to breathe when daddy pushes the pillow into my face, smashing it in until I feel his hard knuckles through the feathers. When he releases the pressure, I gasp for air. My chest rises and falls quickly.

“Pain makes you stronger,” daddy whispers. “Remember that.” I nod. He pulls the blanket up to my neck, smiles, and strokes my forehead with his fingertips. He tells me I must hold in the pain when it comes, and not let anyone see it, because then it will become something else. The pain will still be there, but it won’t control me anymore.

This is what daddy talks about every night as he watches me fall asleep. The pain he feels because mommy is away in Vietnam and cannot come back for a year. The pain when he coughs from smoking. The pain that changes us.

Ms. Doran says that smoking makes our lungs weaker. I want to raise my hand and tell her what daddy says, that the pain makes them stronger, but I have to keep everything at home between me and daddy, because if I share it then it will release, like the pain, and we can’t hold it close to ourselves anymore.

Daddy says that tonight I will experience more pain than ever. I must not fight it. It will hurt at first, and I will clench my fists and teeth, but daddy will be right there with me. Daddy will control it.

The pain is sharp, like a screwdriver sliding through my flesh. I want to cry, but I hold the tears. I control them. I change.

As daddy parts my bangs with his fingers, a noise rises from outside the window, like mommy screaming, but it’s just a police siren, speeding past our house, leaving us in the quiet darkness.

© 2014 Andy Tu

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