I put god on a pedestal during the 5 days I spent in a white shack on the beach. On the 6th day god fell.
It began with a compulsive annoyance, “Do you want to go on a walk? Walk?”
“We can do whatever you want.” My father responded.
Quickly I put down my seltzer, ran upstairs and began to put on my shoes. It had been cloudy for days and as I looked out the window at the pale beach, with it’s ocean covered in fog, and the scattered black dots fishing along the cost, I tied my laces, grabbed a coat and proceeded back into the kitchen.
My father was still slowly finishing his beer, lackadaisically putting on his sweatshirt and shoes. I became eager to burn the calories from our last dinner at the house. We had a good meal, but more importantly this would be the last walk we’d have together during a time I had only dreamed of experiencing.
Finally dressed and ready to go I opened the screen door and lit a cigarette, my father a cigar. We had no destination. We just slowly skirted down the street, admiring the occasional for sale sign, and the lack of cars we had become accustomed to.
The weather had been terrible. We were lucky enough to get sunburns on the first day, but besides another brief hour with sweatshirts and long pants, that was the only time we were able to enjoy the beach. It either rained, or a frozen breeze swept along, rendering it impossible to enjoy ourselves, even with the industrial grade umbrella my father brought along. It seemed the entire town but us and the regulars at the bar had known this in advance, leaving the town in a desolate, peaceful manor.
As we reached the intersection we decided to cross the street and walked down towards the bar. We spent two nights there. The first, celebrating my graduation, my dad bought me a drink, broke my sobriety, and put an overwhelming smile on both of our insides.
That first day was special. Graduation was trivial but the reaction I received from my father was unfathomable. A large burly man, dressed in Khaki shorts and a striped Polo shirt, holding an umbrella and sporting an unfortunate stringy white beard, embraced me for the first time in my life with warmth, sporting the words, “I love you kid… Can’t believe you made it.” I wanted to cry, as it had seemed my entire year of suffering felt worth it as we trotted down the hill, and to his car.
The other night we spent at the bar was to celebrate the birth of the man himself. We ate mediocre bar food, my father ironically ordered something he knew he wouldn’t like, and when I asked why he chose that route he was dumbfounded, but again we laughed, enjoyed the company of one another, and It seemed that I was becoming more of an equal to someone who I had never imagined would treat me in that regard.
We turned left and headed along the row of houses on the bay. We were tired, the conversation was tired, but as we slowly crept down the street we noticed something. Water was spurting up from the ground and the street was flooded.
The identical overpriced houses were all being taken over by the rushing water. My father and I laughed, we couldn’t believe it, we overheard a man yelling, “This tide is crazy”, as we hopped up onto the sidewalk and did our best to avoid the flood.
As we walked, balancing delicately as not to fall in and wet a shoe or a pant leg, my father asked me a question. “What’s your plan?”
An off-putting question, but one I had luckily already developed an answer for.
“I’m going to get work in the city, write, focus on my mental health, and try and work out west for a few months at the end of August.”
“Those are dreams. I mean your plan.”
“I just told you…”
“I mean how are you going to pay for things? How are you going to get medications? You have bills. When I was 23 I didn’t have bills. It’s great you have dreams but you need to be realistic… You can’t live with me forever.”
“I know that but I’m just going to take it one step at a time.”
“Well you can’t.”
Everything came crashing down as I slipped off the curb and into the moving puddle. My foot soaked, my father laughing, my heart beginning to race.
I was never going to be able convince him of my ambitions. He would never understand. He didn’t understand when I tried to kill myself and he wasn’t going to understand that I had a plan in motion, a life I wanted to live, fully aware of the obstacles. Unfortunately, trying to convince this man of a reality different from his own only left me quiet, and torn.
He continued to badger me as we turned the corner, walked down another block, and admired the sudden flood. I wanted to say something, but the words were lost. I felt betrayed as my dreams were suddenly taken away from me and the thought lodged itself in my head, until we turned the corner and there it lay.
Water was jutting up from all sides of the lawn, sprinklers spewing small droplets as a pool of water encased the lawn. The sight took me, it stayed with me, it even changed the subject between my father and I.
As we headed back home we were quiet. The conversation had ended and we both were exhausted. My father had said his piece, I listened, but I kept thinking about that sprinkler. It was my father. He, unknowingly, cynically wet the entirety of my brain, a fragile brain, one could even say a brain trying to stay afloat, as change, the unknown and a thwarting illness kept trying to drown it, but I realized, like I had many times before, that he was only a man with innate views, someone who’s common sense is different than mine and there was no point in trying to change it, he meant no harm, he was just the man who leaves sprinklers on during a flood.
I am a writer from New York who’s had short stories published online as well as in local zine’s