A bit of context: My father left my mother not long after I was born. He was a selfish and incredulous man, driven by his own will and desires. Whether I’m his only child, we don’t know, but we’re sceptical that I’m not.
I would visit him as a child and stay over at his house—the usual divorced parents with a child scenario. As I got older, the visits got fewer and fewer, and we clashed a lot, both being defiant about the other. Eventually, the visits stopped; I couldn’t take the arguing, the heartache, or the rejection from my own father. It was too much.
To no avail, we tried to rekindle our relationship multiple times. It only caused more heartache and pain, and gradually we drifted apart. He knows nothing about me now that I am in my twenties, and I’d like to keep it that way. But I know plenty about him.
He’s blocked on every social media site; any form of contact has been severed by me, but every now and then I get curious. I want to see what he’s up to.
So I started making stops by his house. He lives on the other side of town, but I find ways of getting there secretly. My mother knows I do this, but she isn’t aware of how often.
I slivered to his house at night, shielded by the dark. I peeped through his backyard fence and into his kitchen, just watching him. Watching him with his new family and watching him live his new life I’ve seen his stepchildren grow. I’ve seen his grandchildren come and go for weekend visits. I used to be jealous, but not anymore. No. Now I am intrigued.
I like to tease my father about the daughter that he forgot and moved on from. I place little reminders of me in his backyard, next to his back door. A childhood toy; an item of clothing. Something that makes his heart swell and his mind ache a little reminder that I still exist, despite his lack of contact with me. I even posted one of my graduation photos through his door one Easter morning. Now that took some balls.
But lately, I’ve become addicted to visiting his house after dark. It’s like I can’t get enough of watching his life unfold through his kitchen window. I gaze and I stare through the little cracks in his fence, watching his and his family’s every move. I often feel a sense of loss and grief, but not for long.
But last night was different. I had paid him a visit around 10 p.m., twice to be exact. The first time went unnoticed, as usual. I hid and I watched, his eyes transfixed by his phone. The second time, around 20 minutes later, I snuck up to the fence again, holding my breath and watching. This time, he made his way to the back door, and I watched, curious to see if he’d notice me and terrified if he did. But I was frozen to my spot, to my ritualistic hiding place. I didn’t know what to do.
I watched through the fence, holding my breath. He made his way to the bin, disposing of something before slinking back inside. I let out a brief sigh of relief and continued to watch. He slunk about his kitchen, tidying up and putting the kettle on for a late-night drink. All the time I watched, and I watched, and I watched.
It felt like I was there for hours. I watched as the light went out and figured he must have made his way upstairs. I then had a sudden idea, a longing feeling, to go inside and be with him. So, I snuck into his backyard, quiet and stealthy. He didn’t know I was there; nobody did.
I heard a baby’s cry come from upstairs, and I watched eagerly from below as a light went on. I saw a silhouette make their way to what must have been the baby’s crib. Then another light came on—the landing light—and soon the kitchen light followed. I dove beneath the kitchen window, anxiety swirling through my veins; my heart pummelling my chest. I could hear the clatter of dishes as someone prepared a bottle for the baby, whom I presumed to be the youngest grandchild.
The noise then stopped, and I heard footsteps leading away from the kitchen, but the light stayed on. Curiosity overcame me, and I looked through the kitchen window, dying to catch a closer glimpse of his other life—the life he had left me and my mother for. The life he had disregarded me for.
I took in the surroundings and saw the glitz and glam of what I guessed to be his new kitchen, and anger swirled inside of me. Me and my mother have never been very well off, so seeing his glamorous life, even if it only involved a kitchen, upset me. Our house was a shambles, falling apart, whereas his house was pristine and new.
I stood gawking through the window for what seemed like a decade before I could hear footsteps coming down the stairs again. I waited until the last minute to duck beneath the window, managing to catch a small glimpse of my father, now aged and tired. He looked terrible—nothing at all like the man I had cut contact with.
I waited and waited and waited, all the while holding my breath like my life depended on it. After what seemed like a century, the kitchen light flickered and then went out. unusual given that it was a new kitchen. I took this as an opportunity to peep through the window once more, even though I hadn’t heard retreating footsteps.
I raised my head so that my eyes could see over the windowsill. I watched him through the darkness. I felt lost and sad. All I ever wanted was to be loved by him. Unknowingly, I stretched my hand up to the window, silently pressing my palm against the glass. I just wanted to be closer to him. I wanted a dad. My dad.
I heard a gasp and a clatter as he must have seen me. Rushed footsteps echoed towards the back door, and by then I knew I had been caught, but what did it matter anymore? I was about to see my dad.
He threw open his back door and stood on the doorstep, bewildered and afraid. I stood before him, but he couldn’t see me. He couldn’t see anything. His confusion and fear made me smile a little, a small revenge for all the heartache he had caused me as a child.
A breeze passed through the yard. He shivered before turning away, locking the door, and retreating upstairs, back to his new family.
It’s been a few years since I lost my life to a drunk driver, but I still like to visit my dad. I like to remind him that I’m still here, still watching. I am still waiting for the love and life I never received from him.
Tonight, I think I’m going to go inside and pay him a visit. Tonight, I think I’ll properly make myself known so that he can never forget me. Tonight, I’ll make sure he remembers the child he left behind.
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