Disclaimer: The following story is completely fictitious and involves sexual encounters between adults and underage youths. If you wish to comment, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I remember very little about my mother's death. On July 7th Dad told me that Mom was sick and in the hospital. By the next Thursday, she was dead. At the funeral, the family bickered quietly so I wouldn't hear. They probably thought a ten year old couldn't handle the fact that his mother would soon be rotting in the ground without any real reason to hope for a reunion in the after life.
My father never fully recovered. He delved completely into his work on the family farm. Even during summer vacation, Dad and I never saw each other except for few moments he would come inside to get a drink of water. I used to stare out the window at the barn door and watch him milking the cows, feeding the horses, or tending to the crops. For hours on end he would disappear into that barn until well after I had gone to sleep.
Once in a while, Dad would stop by the sofa where I was sitting watching TV and take a breath as if he were going to say something. Then, he would sigh and continue on his way. From time to time, Dad would ask me to help him carry a bucket or back up the truck to the barn door, but afterwards, he said a simple "thanks" and continued on with his work. I always retreated into the house either to watch TV or do homework.
Dad, on the other hand, already made his decision. Since we rarely spoke, I was surprised when Dad came upstairs and knocked lightly on my ajar bedroom door.
"Nicky?" Despite the fact that I had become numb to the world around me, hearing my father say my name was exhilarating and shocking at the same time.
He pushed the door open and cowered there in the threshold, probably waiting for me to say something. I put down my game controller and veered up at him from the floor. "What, Dad?"
Standing above me in his tight blue jeans and plaid button up shirt, Dad reached in his back pocket and pulled out a pamphlet. I sat up and faced my dad sensing the seriousness of the situation. Dad stood there and tapped the pamphlet against his left palm anxiously.
I stood. "What is it, Dad?"
"Nicky. Look." He paused and rested his right palm on my left shoulder just long enough for it to feel awkward. Two years my mother had been dead and we were both sure this was the first time he had shown me any affection. "Look, kiddo. Take some time and read this. Let me know what you think.
Then, Dad left the room and didn't look back. He was walking away from me like a dog cowering back to his bed with his tail between his legs. Whatever it was my father had just handed me, it was something he was ashamed of.
"Prosperity" was the name of the boarding school. At first, I just dropped down on my bed and cried; my father was so broken over my mother's death that he couldn't face me anymore – he didn't want to see me or take care of me because he didn't have it in him. I saw it in his face that day when he stared at me through the rain from the barn. He didn't have to say it, I just knew.
I went downstairs with the pamphlet crinkled up like a piece of trash, my anger seething inside of me disguising the hurt I was feeling that my father wanted to get rid of me.
"Dad?" The anger that was written on my face in blood red pigmentation flushed out and I stood there white as a ghost. When I turned the corner, the sight of my father cracking eggs and laying bacon strips in a greased frying pan shocked me. Since my mother died I either fended for myself by mixing some concoction of items we had around the house (sometimes it was pita bread and mustard) or we would end up ordering pizza and find our own separate rooms to eat and watch television.
"Hey" his tone was sober but it seemed improved from our interactions over the last two years. "Sit down, I'll make you some breakfast."
I sat there looking around the room as though I would be able to see some obvious reason why my father had morphed into this caring, compassionate individual who seemed to stand before me. But before long, the breakfast was being served and I laid the pamphlet on the table. The glossy sky-blue crinkled thing stared and taunted me. I wasn't sure how I felt at that moment. My father stood over me, pushing bacon and eggs onto my plate with a spatula and awkwardly patting my head before picking up the pamphlet and taking it to his side of the table and flattening it as he set his own place for breakfast.
"That bad?" He said, as his fork began to screech along the ceramic plate.
"Good" I managed with a mouthful of homemade scrambled eggs.
"No, I meant the school." Just as Dad said that, his gaze parted with me completed and he glued his eyes to his breakfast plate as thought he had never seen how bacon scrunched after it was cooked.
We didn't speak of the pamphlet until after I had cleaned and licked my plate. When I got up to put my dishes in the sink, my father grabbed my arm. I stopped in place and met my father's angry gaze.
"Please sit, Nicky." Although he didn't yell, he used the tone he used to use with me when I disobeyed my mother, so I set down my plate dropped my body into the oak chair.
Passing me the pamphlet, crinkles still in tact, Dad looked right into my eyes. "I know how this seemsÉ" he began.
"You're kicking me out." I spoke very matter-of-factly. I wanted him to know I may have only been twelve years old but I was able to reason and understand what he was doing.
"It's not thatÉ" he began again.
"Yes! It is. You can't stand that Mom has been dead for two years now andÉ" My father stood up, face red as a fire engine, and screamed at me.
"Stop! You have no idea what I have been through!" I started to open my mouth to speak, but with a wave of his hand, he shut me up. "No!" Then, when we were both silent and settled in our chairs, my father took a breath and leaned in to me.
"I'm sorry, Dad." Tears welled up in my eyes. "I know it's been hard on you, but you don't even talk to me anymore. It's like I don't exist here in your house and now you want to send me away."
At that, my father was huffing to hold back tears. "It's not that." He paused and reached out his hands. This time, he held my hands with the warmth that I had once known from him. "I have to have some time away. I have waited for this program to accept you for two years and they finally have. You don't understand this now, but you will. I love you very much and I want to be with you every second of my life, but this place will do for you what I never can."
"You're getting rid of me."
"No! Listen carefully, Nicky. I don't ever want you to think I am trying to get rid of you. I am doing what is best for both of us. I am going through some things and I need to go away for a while. You can stay in school and have a very nice place to live." He spoke with certainty and he pointed to all the pictures of the dormitories, common areas, the fact that each student got a laptop computer, and the schedule of classes offered.
I couldn't focus on the pictures, though it made the place look like a resort. All I could think about was the part dad said about leaving. There was silence while Dad stared into my eyes.
"I'm selling the farm, Nicky." I was shocked and I began to protest, but dad explained. "I sold it so you could go to this school. Being there will give you a future to do all the things you want to do." He paused to shut me up. "Look, I know you don't like farming. Hell! Neither do I. I just got stuck in doing what my father did, what my father's father did, and the company my brother created."
"Dad?" I barely wanted to hear the answer to this question, but I went for it anyway. "Do you hate me?"
"Oh, God no, Nicky!" He got out of his chair and knelt down next to me at the table. "I love you and that's why I am doing this."
"Do I have to go to the school?" Dad looked at me with a soft expression, the first time I have seen that since before Mom died.
"Well, Nicky. I chose that school because they will cater to all your needs. They will give you a good education and take care of you."
"How do you know?"
"Do you remember your cousin Alex who moved away three years ago?" Dad scooted his chair so he was sitting together with me, looking at the pamphlet.
"He's a student at Prosperity now." Dad pointed to the pamphlet. "Did you read about all the different classes you can take? What about all the facilities?" He smiled as he pointed to pictures of the lake, indoor pools, recreation areas, camping sites, and the dormitories.
"I don't want to leave, Dad. I want to stay here on the farm with you." I pouted.
"What's done is done, son. I have sold the farm and paid in full your attendance costs through graduation. You start school in two weeks.
I silently stared down my dad for as long as I could stand the pitiful look in his eyes. I didn't understand why he wanted me there and I had no idea why he needed to be away from every part of our family's life, but for a moment, as I saw tears welling up in my father's eyes, I knew I didn't have to understand it.
"Will you visit me?" I asked, trying to break the tension and make peace.
"Oh, of course, Nicky!" He wrapped his arms around me and I could feel the warmth of his body against mine. I savored it by reaching around my father's torso and taking in the love I finally felt from him. We both cried, but I still am not sure if we were both crying because of how sad we were that we would be separated or how happy we were that we were off the hook – dad being able to be alone again and me being able to be part of some family, even if they weren't blood related.