DECEMBER 2005 – NO. 1
"Years after leaving, when I was an adult and trying to reconcile my relationship with my father, I visited him in my childhood house."
Years after leaving, when I was an adult and trying to reconcile my relationship with my father, I visited him in my childhood house. I stood on the back porch and waited while Dad went inside to boil the kettle. The bright summer sun glinted off car windows in the distance. Behind me, I heard the clink of a teaspoon dropped into the sink. Dad came outside and handed me a mug.
"You should come and visit more often," said Dad.
"I try to," I said. "You know it's hard for me to get over here."
We fell silent. A bee droned above our heads. It was hot, and the backyard was perfectly still.
My father's second wife had redesigned the backyard since she moved in with my father. Gone were the dry, flat planes of grass that I remembered. Now, masses of daffodils and roses crowded along the fence, forcing the dry lawn into retreat. In the middle of the yard stood a young jacaranda tree, shedding purple flowers onto the freshly-dug soil around its feet. A pagoda had been erected above the last patch of grass. Mum had always wanted a pagoda, and Dad had always said no.
Dad sat down on a plastic garden chair. He doesn't like to admit it, but he's really too old to stay on his feet.
I looked up at the side of the house. The flower bed, which had been so barren in my youth, was teeming with daisies and azaleas in full bloom, spilling onto the garden path. The empty bird-bath had been filled with flat-faced pansies. Everything from my childhood was gone, and it had all been replaced with something better.
A starling flew overhead, high above the telegraph wires.
"I'm very happy for you," I said, and stared at my feet.
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