Conversations with Ghosts: Father and Son

0280 - CWG - Father and Son via FlashPrompt

 

“Kafka said that writing letters was like having a conversation with a ghost.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“Is it?”

“No. Yes. Maybe.”

“Come on, son. Be decisive. Tell me what you really think.”

“Dad…”

“No, really. I want to know. We used to talk, didn’t we? Sure, we told your mother we were going fishing, but I don’t recall either of us ever baiting a hook.”

“No. We didn’t. We’d come here, and you’d give me a couple of dollars for the pinball machine or let me blow my allowance on pool while you played old jazz songs on the piano and drank yourself into oblivion.”

“Ouch.”

“You said to be honest.”

“So I did.”

“Why…?”

“Why what?”

“Why didn’t you ever play music at home? Katie would have loved your music. You know she’s at Julliard now? And Mom… she kept that piano dusted and tuned for you, not for us. Why did you hide that part of you? Why didn’t you come to our recitals? What closed you off from this thing that you loved?”

“Life, I guess.”

“Ironic.”

“Well… life was the reason then. I wanted to be the next big thing. I studied and practiced, and I was rising… I had a label come listen to me play at a high-end club. I met your mother that night. I think she was attracted to the possibility of my success.”

“Well, it couldn’t have been your sparkling personality.”

“Son…”

“Sorry, Dad. Go on?”

“It’s the classic story. I met your mother. We started going out. Things got serious, she got pregnant. And I had to choose. Did I want to chase a dream that might not come true, or do the responsible thing and settled down, be a husband and a father.”

“So, you settled.”

“I chose, son. I looked at what I had and what I might have, and I chose the sure thing.”

“Mom would have supported your dream, you know.”

“I know.”

“Then why? Dad, I found your records – you were good. You had it… that thing… that spark. Your playing was transcendent.”

“Fear.”

“Of failure?”

“Of success. Isn’t that why you haven’t tried to publish any of your stories?”

“I…”

“You write them in letters to your mother, to your sister, but you should be sharing them with the world. Yeah, some of them are not so flattering to me, some are not so pretty, but that’s what artists do, son. We use our pain to make beautiful things.”

“You didn’t… well, you did… but you stopped.”

“No, I stopped playing gigs. I made – well, your mother did most of the hard work – two very beautiful things.”

“Dad?”

“You’re one of them.”

“Oh… I… ”

“So… is it?”

“What?”

“Writing letters? Conversing with ghosts? Are they the same?”

“I don’t… I’m not sure.”

“Well, when you figure it out… drop me a line.”

“Drop you a  – Dad? DAD?”

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Conversations with Ghosts: Father and Son by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.