Blown Out Match
Pen Name Pending
That was my dad. On the news. An unknown man is the caption, and the name is
repeated by the newsman on Channel 8.
“He’s not unknown!” I wanted to scream at the tv. Even if he can’t hear me, I need to hear it.
From the deepest part of my gut, with all of my soul, with all the voice I can muster,
“He’s not unknown! That’s my dad! That’s dad!”
Mom turns off the tv before I can even unfreeze or react, four feet from the screen- forty
feet. I want to cry, but everything is so much. I feel so full but so empty.
“Jesus,” she covers her mouth like she’s shocked- like she cares. I want to punch her in
the jaw and watch her bleached curls hit the floor.
“If it wasn’t for dad you wouldn’t have your precious blonde hair!” I’m stuck to the floor, on
my knees, four feet from the screen- forty feet.
“I didn’t mean it, you jackass,” she mumbles before she goes to the fridge and opens one of
dad’s good beers. Like this is some sort of celebration. Like the sick woman she is. She chugs
it and opens another and another. I stare at the screen four feet away- forty feet. That’s why he
was looking for grandpa’s lighter. A pretty little golden lighter with K.S. engraved on it. It always
reminded me of a locket, but instead of photos, fire. It’s still in my room, hidden under my bed. I was scared he’d take up smoking. I guess he bought matches. I wonder if he was listening to
“Rockin’ Robin” on the radio. That was our favorite song. We’d sing it while he drove me to
school. I’d sing the tweets, and he’d sing the rockin’ robin. That drive was more than forty feet.
He got laid off yesterday. The company was already dying when he got hired. He thought
he could help, but he couldn’t. He and mom argued about it when he got home. They argue about everything. Everything. Mom wants a divorce. She was going to start to file for one next month.
He was trying to convince her not to. This is her fault. It’s her fault. Her fault. Forty feet. She screamed in his face last night to get away from her. He asked what he was supposed to
“Run away! Drive away! Fly away for all I care!” was her response. This is her fault.
She should know men can’t fly. They can’t fly. They’re not robins. The suit jacket in the
closet is gone. Everything with his name is gone, all burned to ash in a trashcan. The car is in the
driveway. He walked. He walked more than forty feet. I thought he was afraid of heights, forty
feet is supposed to be too high. Hotel windows should have locks. Mom should have kept her
mouth shut. I should have woken up earlier. I should have gone into town with him. I shouldn’t
be here four feet from the tv. You shouldn’t be forty feet gone. You shouldn’t have tried to fly.
I’m crying now. My stomach hurts. I turn the tv back on. They’ve moved on to the next
story. An unknown man leaped from a four-story hotel window and fell forty feet to his death is no longer playing across the screen. I turn the tv back off.