Fight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 18, 2020

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 18, 2020

A A A

A A A


It’s exhilarating as much as it is frightening: to fall so far from the sky. I was seated on the plane, resting my head on the little crux of cushion between the seats. I was thinking about my son, who is graduating from Brown University this weekend. I was thinking about how much he doesn’t resemble me. I never saw it in him. Or me for that matter. He is smart: Book smart, but not street wise. He is self motivated and efficient. He is thoughtful and considerate, pensive and stoic. All of these make up who he is. He is everything I am not. 

 

When he was born, I was in jail for the night. My friends had taken me out to celebrate being a winner at a stale, shitty boxing club in the Bronx. I had knocked a guy out who had previously put me in the hospital with stitches and a concussion the previous bout. I had redemption: and more stitches. We all drank to them like dropping sweat and blood all over a stained mat was something special. 

 

While we were playing pool and smashing glasses together, my opponent comes in looking for some satisfaction. “A lucky punch, he says.” Our crews engaged in shouting, punching, slamming, and eventually falling straight threw the front picture window of the bar. We all landed in lock-up for the night. 

 

At the moment I was dozing off on the jailhouse bench, my son was tearing through his mother with a ferocity and vitriol for her that would take her from us that very night. My eyes closed. His eyes opened. Her eyes closed. 

 

… 

 

Being a father is hard. I guess being my son couldn’t have been any easier, with the endless drunken nights and strange women around, smelling of moldy pub booths and cheap whisky. I usually made the wrong decisions whenever there was one to be made. I fed him shit food and kept nothing but beer in the fridge. I never showed up to his teacher conferences, which was fine for him because he always got A’s and never acted out. 

 

But there was love there despite all appearances. What I did know how to do, I did well, and with all I had. I gave him everything good I had in me, and also the bad. On his 16th birthday, I threw him his first birthday party. He never had many friends: usually kept to himself with a book or on the computer. I had invited 5 kids to go to Coney Island with us. We got hot dogs and rode the rides all day. There was this moment, that I didn’t really remember until now, as my life is flashing before me, at the top of the ferris wheel where no one could see, he laid his head down on my shoulder. I felt him shaking a little and looked down to find him burying his head into my jacket. “What’s wrong boy?” He told me two words, “It’s been a long ride dad.” I think I about lost my shit too after that. 

 

Life for us was a series of very long winters and very short summers. We would start every day out behind I think. Every morning, I’d pray for my son, and pray for myself, that I could be a better father. I wanted to make up for his mom not being here. I wanted to make up for missing her leaving us behind. Truth is I resented her. She knew I wasn’t ready for this. I was just getting started out. I couldn’t be a father. That night, I stopped fighting with my fists and left my sweat on the mat. I began my fight against myself, to be a father. 


 

My wife always told me that no matter how mad you get, never hit a child or a woman. She told me this just after the first time I slapped her across the face. We were fighting about what time I came home at night. She was shouting at me and I didn’t know how to make her be quiet, so I slapped her in the mouth. My pop did this to my mom and to me and my sister. I really didn’t know I shouldn’t do it. She told me that and I didn’t ever do it again. 

 

So when my son told me that it was my fault that his mom wasn’t around to raise him to be a real man, I clenched my fists so tight they turned white, and turned around and walked out the front door to sit on the swing. A few hours later, he came out and sat down next to me and cried. He told me how sorry he was for saying that. This was the first time I learned to fight with my mind. This was the first step to becoming a real man. We both learned the same vital lesson together. 

 

When he was a baby, I just couldn’t get him to stop crying. My sister would come over when I called and she could do it. I could never do it. She told me, “Don’t ever shake the baby, no matter how frustrated you get. Just call me.” I called her every day until it was just to check in and say hello because I would miss her otherwise. There were very few moments that I felt he had forgiven me. Or at least stopped hating me altogether. He was always violently shaking his fists and screaming at me.

 

But he became a little boy who went to school and started saying funny things and arguing better than me and changing my mind on certain issues. He didn’t say a lot. He didn’t say much of anything that went further than what’s for dinner, or what time will you be home tonight...or tomorrow. He chose his words and battles very carefully. So much that I had never seen him speak an untrue word since he was a kid. Until Christmas, the year he turned 15. I had gotten him this exact replica of this stuffed bear his mom had gotten for him to meet when he was born. He had held it and played with it so much that is stunk and was filthy looking. I washed it. It came apart and could not be fixed, or regain whatever smell he claimed it needed to have. The smell of her. He told me that birthday that I wasn’t even trying. Untrue.

 

I was trying. So hard. 


 

I just couldn’t get it right with him or anyone else. I hadn’t boxed in years. I stopped drinking every day and cut it down to weekends. I stopped bringing girls home and got a baby sitter for when I was gonna be out all night. All of these sacrifices and he could only get mad that I didn’t buy the right cereal or that I didn’t teach him to fight, so he wouldn’t get pushed around. All of these little things sum up to the bigger thing, that he had to lose his mother, and that he lost her alone. Now he’s gonna lose me. My eyes are gonna close and his are gonna open to a great big world devoid of the one who he will just now realize was always there with him. 

 

He’s made me proud and I hope I’ve been enough. The ocean is getting closer now. I can see it’s caps breaking. The plane’s engines are silent. The plane is full of shrieking people, all thinking about similar things as I am. Their mistakes, and hopefully also their victories. I’ve stopped hearing them scream. It is complete silence now and I can feel my stomach creeping into my mouth. 

 

Impact. Fire. Things go dark.

 

Cold, rhythmic movements. A muffled sound of high pitched shrieks. The feeling of propulsion. Complete darkness. Foul odor. A bounding heartbeat. 

 

This went on for an amount of time I could never gauge because there were no landmarks. Was I in a coma? I hear things, but no voices, only muffled shrieks coming from all around me and also inside with me. After an amount of time spend sleeping and feeling my pains and wounds heal I was ejected from my place of comfort and and into another section of this vessel and a hint of light in front of me. Movement had stopped. Sound had stopped. The vessel was closing in on me. I ripped and tore at the insides, their silky and slimy walls. I fought with everything I had and became so exhausted, I could barely move. 

 

Then I reached the mouth of this cave that became clear was my savior. I climbed out of the mouth of a whale. A whale that had passed on the shore. It was then that I understood the beauty of my wife’s passing. It’s eyes closed. My eyes opened.

 


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