by: Rebeka Singer
I found my father lying corpse-like on the couch. His long legs curled over the edge of the cushion. His head rested face-up on a pillow, eyes floating in their sockets. The dog curled against his worn knit sweater, torn at the shoulder seams.
It was a cold Sunday.
“Lil-y,” he slurred. He groaned something like a yawn.
“Dad.” I nodded.
I sat down on the couch adjacent to his.
“So Dad, how’re you feeling?” I slapped my hands on my knees to rouse him.
“What’s that, Lil-y?” He opened his rolling eyes and turned to look at me.
Then his gaze fell on the wall opposite him. There was a painting on that wall by my mother of a riverbank we used to visit near the summer home we had owned when my father was still making money. His eyes were not examining, but stoned, hollow like a blind man’s.
“I was visited by the spirit of death last night,” he said.
“Excuse me?” I felt like I should be scribbling diagnoses on a notepad.
“I thought I was going to die.” His voice was hoarse. I saw him: a washed up man, a lost child, a negligent father, a failed businessman, a self-made unloved human.
“What was it like?” I humored him. I saw a spark in his eye, a glimmer of his past self. He propped his body on his hands and rolled upright into a sitting position. His mouth hung agape. I flinched.
“There are four dimensions. No, there was no time in death.”
“Uh huh, interesting.” His gibberish was too much this early in the morning.
“I’ve been to the past, Lily. I’ve been to the future—“
“You’ve been to the goddamn moon! Haven’t you? Isn’t that right, Dad? The moon!” My chest heaved, out of breath in so few words. I was sorry, so sorry so immediate. Why did he always make me feel this way? Why couldn’t I just be angry with him?
“Yes, I’ve been to the moon.” He spoke in calm, slurred tones; the words formed in round shapes, Jell-O falling from his lips.
“I know.” I sucked in my cheeks until my tongue ached.
“I took you there, too. Remember?” His eyes drifted to the sun-kissed windowpanes. He shut them meditatively under the warm gaze of morning light. “Remember, Lily.”
“I do.” I sighed. I remembered the desert in flashes of sweeping sand, ashen stones and sheets of sediment.
“I understand there is a God—a creator of this cycle of life.” His eyes shuddered beneath the lids. His body reclined, slouched into the couch cushions until he lay flat on his back just as I had found him.
Originally published in Corium Magazine, Spring 2014. (Edited.)