Son…if you’re reading this letter, it means that you’re 18 now, and unfortunately I’m not by your side anymore. How’s your mother doing? Ahh…I imagine she’s doing alright. I just wish I could see her smile one last time. I still remember the day me and her met. It truly felt like a movie that day I walked into Wal-Mart and seen her. The way the sunlight that beamed through the roof led a trail and shone oh so brightly on her, like royalty. I hope you’re taking care of your sister Ayanami for me. Even though she’s your older sister, you’re the man of the house right now, so everything that I couldn’t accomplish and protect is all on you right now. Hows’ Grandma and Grandpa? I wonder if your Grandma is still making those famous empanadas that she used to make for me when I used to be around. Is Grandpa still working out in the garden? Awe man…I missed the days of waking up and walking out onto the patio with you and your sister in my arms, staring at the misty rainbow that used to appear over the flower patch. Is uncle Junior still in the army? Did Aunt Hilda open up her gym yet? I know it was always her dream. Son…how are YOU doing? I hope you kept those fucking grades up…you know how I get about schoolwork. Are you eating right? Did you choose what college you’ll be going to in the winter? Man I really miss you guys. I never really understood how lucky I was to have you all until the day the doctor told me I had stage 5 kidney disease. The days you used to take the bus with me to the hospital for my hemodialysis treatment felt like an eternity. I never was a fan of needles. The blood being sucked out of my arm and pushing itself back in after cleansing always made me nauseous. Man…I’m really getting off topic here. Son…I really didn’t want to let you find out the truth this way, but me and your mother are not your real parents. In fact, we aren’t related in the slightest. Your mother probably wouldn’t approve of me telling you this way, but what other option did I have? I wanted to take this to the grave with me but you have the right to know about your real parents; Steven and Dalace, and the night they died.
Steven and Dalace met in highschool. Imagine your common and successful high school sweet heart story, this was nothing like that. In fact, it was the complete opposite. Those days I was roaming the halls of John I Leonard High after being kicked out of Lake Worth High for poor grades and “malconduct.” That’s not even a word. Anyways your parents always had an on and off relationship throughout their years, bickering and fighting whenever the chance arose but also making up because they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. I was 3 years their senior and had no idea who they were yet, but my younger brother Shelnes was friends with both. I ended up graduating from J.I.L. after a year of solid work and keeping to myself, and thus continued my journey of life in another city while my brother stayed behind to make a name for himself. I spent my failing college years studying hardcore while trying to find myself. I had no idea who I was. I spent most of my time watching anime and listening to rock by myself while my head was off somewhere imagining a world where a damsel otaku in distress needed to be rescued by a main character with some sort of high intense earth veering powers. Some years went by and I moved backed home by the request of my older brother who realized that I was getting nothing done in school. I walked into the room and sat next to my brother while he was playing 2K with your father who sat next to him. That was the first time I met your father. Your father loved basketball, and whenever he wasn’t shooting hoops he found an opportunity to display his skills on the console with ample effort. We all talked about our love for the sport and somehow the conversation birthed a passionate flame in our hearts for each other. He was a friend. Soon to be my best. We started hanging out every other night, going to 24 Hour Fitness around 11PM with our other friend Chris to get a session in, ending the night with a couple rounds of 21. No idea how Chris used to win them all, I guess it was the anger in his eyes. A year went by and I was ready to give school another shot. We started community college. Me and your father used to skip chemistry class and sneak into the basketball for beginners course so we could meet up with my brother and play against the pros. I remember I had a crush on one of the female players and they clowned me about it, starting up a joke about her and calling her my ex-wife. Don’t tell your mother about that part. College was the first time I met Dalace. I remember walking to math class during the early morning and bumping into her and Chris. She told me how she was friends with your uncle all through high school and how he would always mention me looking out for him. I always looked out for your uncle, regardless of the situation because who else would? You know the relationship me and my mother had…it was never anything to speak of. I raised that kid like he was my own. We did everything for each other. I was surprised when the details slipped from her tongue. When the subject switched to Steven, there wasn’t much to be said but the look on her face showed me that she truly loved him. I didn’t talk to your mom for a while after this day but I still remember the look in her eyes like it haunted me. The pain and sadness radiated from her eyes like a piece of her was missing. I regret never asking her about the way she felt but I knew it was a territory I couldn’t step on to.
More years passed and I ended up coming home once again after leaving Florida Atlantic University. I have no idea how I made it through those years. The average day for me was working out at the school gym, rushing to class late while trying to grasp my life together, and slowly cruising home after a day of anguish and failure. Steven used to come by to my dorm a couple nights a week. We’d continuously debate basketball and talk about Dragonball Z with my roommates. It seemed like everyone watched anime during those days. After moving home, I met my wife for the first time while walking in to a Wal-Mart. Me and Steven were driving home from a late workout session and stopped by to grab a couple of gatorades to refuel before calling it a night. Man..was she gorgeous. Like no other woman I’ve ever seen. You already know what came next. Me and Frances introduced your sister into the world a couple of years later. A month after that, you came into the world. I still remember getting the call from Steven telling me Dalace gave birth to you. Life was perfect. I had a beautiful child and my best friend had a beautiful son. We used to make jokes about pitting you two against each other as rivals to claim the title as the ultimate chosen one. Everything felt good until the day I got that call from Dalace…
It was Mother’s Day..2017…you were a year and half. I was at home while Ayanami and Frances took a day for themselves to go about the town. Aunt Hilda and Aunt Paige went with them. It seemed like I was home alone that day. I was writing a new chapter for my short story series while listening to “Tony Story Part 2 by Meek Mill.” Dalace called me in tears with your father shouting in the background. She tried to calm him down but the situation escalated too quickly. So much was running through my head that I didn’t know how to go about anything at that particular second. Words of adultery and deceit drowned out the background noise. You see, your father had a gun in his hand and your mother told me you were in the middle of the living room right next to him. She was worried your father was going to do something that he would ultimately live to regret. I heard a gunshot go off and heard the phone drop to the ground. I couldn’t put a picture together. The sound still haunts me to this day. I grabbed my keys and ran out of the house into my car and floored it for what felt like the longest trip ever. So many emotions were in the atmosphere. I didn’t know how to feel. I was scared of what I would walk into when I got there. Driving the vehicle, I could only think of the day I met your mother for the first time. The pain and sadness in her eyes affected my thought process the entire trip. Was there something I was missing? Was there a side to my best friend that I didn’t know about? 30 minutes felt like a year. I finally arrived but it was too late. The cops beat me to it. I came to a screeching halt, switched gears, and ran out of my car through the front doors of the apartment. My best friend and his wife were dead on the floor. The cops told me that you were screaming and crying on the floor when they finally arrived after getting a call from the neighbors in the apartment across the hall. I couldn’t understand what or even how things came to this conclusion when I started to piece the puzzle together. You see we had a friend named Chris that we used to do everything with. He was one of the boys, or so we thought. It seemed that he and your mother had been seeing each other in secrecy since the times of high school. That day, your father finally learned of the truth when a text from him came across the screen of your mothers phone. I guess she didn’t want me learning the truth since she never once mentioned the fact that while she called me during the dispute, Chris was there and had a gun in his palm and had already let a shot off into your fathers right arm. She felt so guilty but blind, that she tried to turn everything around to her being the innocent one. You see, your father ran and grabbed his gun trying to defend himself while shouting out about how your mother cheated and did terrible things, but everything drowned out over the phone. The next shot into his head sealed the deal for me because I thought he shot her, when it was nothing even close. Chris couldn’t deal with the fact that the woman he loved lived a life that he wanted with another man, so he shot your mother as well. Chris was arrested a week later while on the run in Jacksonville. I never went to see him. I couldn’t face the killer that took my friend and his wife. I wish I mustered up the strength to confront him and speak my mind but why waste my time on a coward? Chris was weak. He couldn’t deal with his emotions so he took it out on others. I adopted you and kept a promise to your father. We promised each other that if something were to ever happen to one of us, take care of the others child regardless of the position we’re in in life.
I wonder if he would’ve wanted me to tell you the truth. Regardless of how I’ve raised you like my own, I could never replace your real father. I never had a son so taking you in was a job I was happy to accept. I miss your father though. He always walked around with a smile on his face that carried the gleam of 1000 suns. Your mother smiled but her eyes always told another story. I wonder if the pain in them were results from the fact that she kept secrets she never meant to share. Man I wrote a lot. I always managed to get off topic when it came to writing letters. Speaking of letters, I received one from Chris upstate. He wants to see you in person so you could hear everything from his point of view, and why he did what he did. I can’t tell you what to do son. Ultimately, the path you choose to walk is the one that will provide a sense of relief that only you can feel. I included the address to the prison he’s being held in.
Oh Stephen how I truly miss you. I miss your sister. I miss your mother. Both of them. I miss your father. I miss Grandma and Grandpa. I miss your dumbass uncle and your pizza loving aunt. I don’t know how to end this letter, you know I was never good at showing my emotions with things like this. I know, I’ll leave you with a riddle…
“It stands alone, with no bone or solid form.
Adamant, it prospers never wrong,
though hurt it may.
Twistable, malleable, might it be,
but always straight as an arrow.”
Thanks to Roberto Gatto for the featured image.