Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 50: I'll Be Fine

My dad had been diagnosed with a coronary heart disease before he died.

He probably had it earlier, but the symptoms didn’t show until a year ago, when he had his first heart attack in his own office at Woods and Co. Mom had been scarred for life after the incident. She wanted to tell me about it but I was just starting my senior year of high school and my dad didn’t want to burden me with the horrible news. So, his disease stayed a secret for a long time.

That was probably why my parents stayed away from me, throwing themselves in their work in the first place. My mom didn’t want to be around me because she was carrying this huge secret, she can’t bear to be around me without feeling so god damned guilty. My dad also didn’t want me to see him like this. Weak. Broken.

Dying.

I couldn’t believe that I didn’t notice the signs at all. The night during the engagement party where I confronted him, he was rubbing his chest like he had been in pain. I thought he felt pain because I said those ugly things to him. But it wasn’t because of that. He literally felt pain in his heart.

How had I been so blind before?

Had I been completely oblivious to the fact that my dad was dying? He was always so happy, and so… alive whenever I talked to him. I never would have guessed.

How can he be here one day and the next day... gone?

It just doesn’t make sense.

He doesn’t deserve this.

He shouldn’t have to gone through that, fighting a battle he was sure going to loose, without me. Me. His only daughter. It was selfish of him not to tell me. I don’t know whether to feel hurt or angry at him. But what difference does it make anyway?

He’s gone.

I’ll never get to see him again. I’ll never get to see his smiles. I’ll never get to carve pumpkins with him on Halloween or turn on the Christmas lights of our tree or talk about his stupid band that I never cared about but would do anything, anything, to hear him rave about it one more time.

I miss him.

I miss him the second my mother tells me that he’s dead. I miss him when they place his cold, pale body into the coffin he picked out for himself. I miss him when my mother breaks down in front of everyone in the funeral when she talks about him. I miss him when the coffin is lowered unto the ground, the sudden realization hitting me that he won’t be there for me anymore for the rest of my life. I miss him and I love him and I hate him.

I hate him for dying. I hate him for not telling me that he had a heart condition. I hate him for leaving me so abruptly, leaving me alone without a father, leaving me to pick up the broken pieces of my mother’s heart.

It’s just not fair.

I know. I know. Life isn’t fair.

But taking away my father is cruel. Cruel and merciless.

I think of that long after the funeral has ended, and my mom asks me if its alright for her to head back home before I do. I know she needs lots of time to grieve and to sort things though, so I tell her to go off first. She hesistates on leaving me here in the cemetery, but I tell her it’s fine. Daniel’s with me.

She nods, understanding, and she heads off. Daniel stands beside me while I stare at my father’s tombstone, the newly engraved words murdering me bit by bit.

Here lies John Atward Woods

1965-2015

Loving husband, father and friend. He will be missed dearly.

No matter how long I stare at those words, I can never fully accept it. I keep telling myself that it isn’t my dad’s tombstone that’s facing me right now and that he isn’t dead and he’ll come up to me with that crooked smile of his and hug me like he did on Thanksgiving, telling me to stay in school and take care of myself and-

“Alex.” Daniel says, interupting my thoughts. He’s standing next to me in black, his hands digging into his pockets like he’s unsure of what to do.

“Just a few more minutes,” I say without looking at him.

He sighs. “You’ve been looking at his grave for two hours, sweetheart.” I don’t answer.

“And you haven’t even shed a single tear.” I don’t answer again.

“I’m worried about you.” He reaches out to touch my shoulder. I hold my breath, thinking that his touch might just undo every single emotion and feeling I’m surpressing inside my body. “Please say something.” I don’t know what to say.

I worry if I do, then my heart will split in two.

“It’s getting late.” He mumbles, his eyes searching mine. Finally, I have the guts to look at him.

“I know.”

“We should go home.” He says.

I close my eyes. He waits for me to say anything, anything at all.

So I do.

“Okay.” I nod minutely.

He releases a breath he’d been holding and presses his hand against my back, guiding me towards the car. He helps me open the door for me and I step in, my expression completely neutral.

Daniel eyes me warily before starting the engine. “Alex...”

I sigh. “I’ll be fine.”

Daniel pauses to look at me, really look at me, wondering if I’m lying. After a while he gives up and starts to ignition, not knowing that the words I had just uttered to him were the exact words my father last said to me.


When we get back to the penthouse, the first thing I do is head straight to my room.

“I’ll be... in here, okay?” I tell Daniel.

Daniel runs his fingers through his hair in frustration. I can tell he wants to talk to me, but won’t press me after what I had gone through. “Yeah. Um. Okay.”

After taking a quick shower, I slip into some comfortable clothes and pry open the covers of the bed. Even though it’s not night yet, the only thing I want to do is curl up in my bed.

And so I do.

I wrap the sheets around myself tightly, clinging unto it like my life, and then bury my face into the pillow.

And then, I start to cry.

The tears come streaming hot, burning my cheeks as well as the pillow. I cannot tell how long I cried- my sense of time stripped away. I’m just full-out sobbing now, choking on my own tears. I’ve never felt this horrible in my life, this all- consuming pain squeezing me until I can’t breathe. It hurts. It hurts it hurts it hurts so much.

I don’t want to feel like this. Like I’m suffocating.

Slowly

Slowly

Dying in my own hurt

“Alex?” Daniel pushes open the door and finds me sobbing my eyes out. ”Fuck.” He walks over to the side of my bed, worry written all over his face. “Fuck, Alex.” “Go away.” I manage to say as I drown in my own tears.

“I can’t do that.”

I sit up and with the last amount of strength I have, I push him off. “GO AWAY!”

He grabs my hand, and shakes his head. “I’m incapable of leaving you alone, sweetheart. You know that.”

“FUCK YOU!” I scream, my voice dry from crying.

I know that Daniel doesn’t deserve me screaming at him, but I can’t think straight now. I just want to hurt someone just as bad as my dad had hurt me.

“STOP!” He yells back, eyes hardening. He leans down and presses his forehead to mine. “Stop, Alex. Don’t push me away. I’m not the enemy here, okay? Just, stop.”

“I… I...” My voice trails off as the tears stream down my cheek at the realization that I just yelled at him for no apparent reason. “Daniel... I...”

“I know.” His voice softens as he sits beside me, his hands skimming my cheek, wiping away the fallen tears. “I know, Alex.”

“That was... I shouldn’t have-”

“Shhh. It’s okay.” He lets me lean against his shoulder and sob into his shirt. His arms wrap around me, cocooning me in his warmth and embrace.

I cry again for what seems like a long time, and Daniel doesn’t complain. He just wraps me tighter around him and whisper soothing words to me, telling me that it’s okay and everything’s going to be alright. I’m grateful for his words, but I know what he says isn’t true.

It’s not going to be okay.

Everything is not going to be alright.

And it never will be.

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