Please don’t say you love me.
(Author’s note - Tony uses all pronouns. please enjoy!)
the box lay under my bed, where it was kept soundly like always. it was old, the clear duct tape on the corners holding together 7 years of a person. the concept was crazy, the fact so much of a person could rest in a few sentimental items, the way their memory would dwindle in an instant between inanimate objects. my daughter would always be in that box from then onwards, her memory lingering between old toys and photos. not a bit of dust collected under my watchful care and loving eyes. It was a deadly crossfire that took her life. deadly crossfire that in one word could be encapsulated as a tragedy. of course, I blamed myself, why wouldn't I? it's not that I didn't try to protect her, it's that I failed to do so that kept me up at night. as her father I would've given anything to die in her place, but time passes as time does and I did what I could. I keep the memories carefully tucked away in loving care.
after her passing, me and my wife began to slowly but surely drift apart. the two of us were so drastically different in our ways of grief that even in a perfect world we wouldnt be able to fit the other’s wavelength. she was the social kind of grief, wanting company from friends and family, filling her schedule with stuff to do and places to be to get her mind on anything else. The way I felt comfortable grieving was through thinking things out, figuring out how to describe feelings I couldnt explain. I found myself spending days upon days laying in bed, struggling to find the motivation to do most things. naturally these two contrasting ideals of grief caused a ridge in our relationsip, like a crack in a glass getting bigger and bigger until we inevitably broke off. I blame myself for it, shutting myself out when all my wife needed was me. That was until I learned that while I was focused on figuring out and navigating my feelings, she was focused on sorting her feelings for me into the hands of four other men. argument after argument she finally just got up and left. I put myself through all of this, giving her chance after chance after her sob stories of finding others to fill the spot I couldn't fill on my own. after losing everyone close I had nothing to lose anymore and found myself a career that would support me in this broken economy. no traditional jobs pay well these days.
my job puts me in some dangerous spots. I enjoy meeting new people but every now and then ill end up in a sticky situation with some street thugs or officials. I love my job, really- I get to be my own boss. But when I go home after those hard days I think of all ive done for myself in this mess of a world and smile knowing shed be proud of her “dada”. it was about two years after her passing my world began to click back together where it had come apart. part of me, however, missed having someone I could look after and pour my heart into. it was on a sunday when I got an ad in the newspaper to be a foster parent when the idea of being a single parent came into mind, and 3 hours later I was giving them a call.
four years led up to where I am now, with my daughter who I adopted out of foster care and a small apartment for us both. I’m getting the hang of taking all this on by myself but when I lay down at night I cant help but curl up by a pilow and burrying my face into the side, longing for someone to be there. I always was the one to hold my wife but being entirely honest, I’d give anything to have someone hold me and run a hand through my hair. someone to lay behind me and wrap their arms around my waist and whisper sweet nothings into my ear as the hair on my neck would stand u-
“Dad?? hello? earth to tony?”
I perked up, looking across the table to my daughter with wide eyes, coming back to reality. “xiohara, I’m so sorry-“ I responded quickly, having no idea how long I had been dwindling in my mind for. she sighed, pointing at my plate full of the dinner I had made us both- well, I made the phonecall, the pizza place did the hard work.