Tess’s father lived in a shack on the beach. It was about an hour walk from the boardwalk and fairly isolated. It was on the very edge of Chikoyo, where the police rarely visited. As far as she knew, they didn’t even respond to emergency calls there.
His house was near only two other houses—a boarding home for the elderly and the very sick, and the other was inhabited by an extremely old blind woman. Tess’s father was friendly with her and sometimes brought her lunch, but not since he’s been sick. Everything changed when he became sick.
George Galvin used to be handsome, with a dash of gray hair, and a strong build. When Tess visited him on this occasion, he was withered and tired looking. He could barely make it to the front door to answer it. But he always smiled when he saw Tess.
“Tess…what are you doing here?” Most people couldn’t understand his thick accent and that frustrated him, which made him hard to take care of. Tess, on the other hand, was comforted when she heard it. He pushed open the door. “You’re supposed to be checked in.”
Since Tess’s father was deemed unfit to take care of her, she had been sent to live in a group home. Now that she was eighteen, she could live where ever she wanted. She could stay and take care of her father. At least there was something.
“I’m eighteen,” Tess reminded him. He had a bad memory lately. “I can stay here. I can take care of you.”
He looked worried as she took a seat on his couch. The whole house was only a few rooms—a kitchen, a small living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. Tess watched as he hobbled over and took a seat next to her. It looked like every movement pained him.
“I don’t want your life to be looking after me,” he said. There was sadness in his eyes as he looked over her scars. “You should live somewhere in the city and find a good job.”
“The city is a terrible place. I’ll get a job near the boardwalk. I can walk there and come home at night,” Tess replied.
“You won’t make enough money with a job here,” her father said.
Tess shifted in her seat. Something was wrong.
“Since when do you care about how much money I make? What’s wrong with me living here?”
“I know you have fees to pay. The police came to see me. They’re worried you might hide out here.”
“They came here?” Tess said, standing up. “They bothered you?”
“They were trying to scare you…to scare me!” Tess shouted angrily.
She could see it was all stressing out her father, so she calmed herself down and sat back on the couch. Her hand was trembling in her lap.
“What are you going to do, Tess?” He asked. “I’m getting very sick. I might be sent to the group home. I wish I could help you, do you know that?”
“I know,” Tess replied, after a while.
“I wish I could get you the money,” he said.
Tess stood up and wrapped her arms around him. She placed her left hand gently on his back.
“You’ve been through enough,” Tess replied. “But I think I can help us. I think I know a way out of this.”
Her father didn’t say anything else. They held each other for a few more moments until he finally pulled away and shuffled to his room.
Tess walked up to the beach and sat on the sand. Her hand dug into her pocket and pulled out the card The Creator had left her. There was no number or address to find him at, just to come to the check in spot, which was back downtown.
She wondered briefly if that night would be the last time she’d ever see her father.