Journal of anime ramblings, fiction works and reflections
She opened the door and frowned. The place reeked of cigarette smoke and alcohol. He sat in the center of the living room, five empty liquor bottles scattered about his feet. His head hung low between his shoulders and it was his light snores that put her at ease. She wondered if he’d even bothered to move from this spot before she left for school that morning.
She toed off her shoes and moved around him to pull apart the drawn curtains, letting in light that removed the thick darkness which shrouded him. He flinched and stirred; an irritable grunt issued from him. He looked up at her, his expression aloof and his gaze detached as if he saw right through her. Usually, she’d feel such revulsion for him that she’d leave the house as soon as she entered. But that feeling was exhausted, replaced by sadness and a yearning for him.
When he said nothing, she just bent down and picked up the bottles then threw them out. The floor was sticky with spilled liquor and, getting a wet rag from the washroom, she wiped away the stains. She glanced up at him. He’d already gone back to sleep. His shirt had brown stains and he definitely needed a bath; but she left him there. He’d move when he was ready.
In the night, she made a light dinner. He usually never ate. He never came to the kitchen. They lived in the same house, but lived separate lives. He was not her father, but a stranger – a housemate she had to take care of. It was lonely, but she was used used to it.
Sitting at the table, she looked at the bottle of Jack Daniels and reached for it. She drank whenever she forgot to buy soda. And she didn’t want to drink water. As she lifted the mouth of the bottle to her lips, a calloused hand gripped her wrist. She pulled back reflexively, the liquor spilled on her blouse, and she turned a hostile glare his way. But her expression softened when she studied his face. Studied him.
He looked fresh – dressed in a clean shirt and a pair of faded jeans – and smelled of soap. When had he even showered? She blinked at him and allowed him to take the bottle from her. She watched him as he moved around the kitchen, clearing the cabinets of all the alcohol; in a silence that thickened and weighed heavily on them. His back was turned to her as he emptied the liquors in the sink. His actions made her curious and she wanted to question him but remained quiet.
She froze a second when he spoke her name, which sounded so foreign on his lips.
He turned to look at her and licked his dry lips, his stance hesitant before he said what he had to, in a low and unsure tone. “Don’t leave me.”
“Don’t leave me,” he repeated, louder this time and in earnest, “please. Not like your mother. I’ll get help.”
She opened her mouth to say something but couldn’t find the words, nor her voice. His gaze was serious – desperate – and it was the first time, in those six months since her mother walked out, that she felt he actually saw her.
“I promise. So don’t leave. Please.”
His face became blurred and she lowered her gaze to the table, blinking rapidly; not wanting him to see her cry. She nodded and breathed through her mouth to keep from sniffling. “Okay, dad.” It felt strange calling him that, but that was who he was again. Not a stranger. And he needed her; just as much as she needed him.