I remember receiving the box of my father’s things when I was 25. Shortly after he died I received a phone call to collect his effects from the mental hospital.
They say after 15 years of incarceration, his brain finally gave in and let him pass. My family told me he hadn’t always been insane, it was a slow deterioration over many years. I don’t remember him being anything other than raving, violent and dangerous. Photos exist of us together when I was a toddler. It’s a time I don’t remember or want to.
I took the box to my car, marvelling at how small it was. A small box, no bigger than a standard order from Amazon. A handful of things collected over a lifetime. I threw the box in the back of my car. I cared less about it than I did my father and that was saying something.
As I pulled up to the house I left the box in the car and went in. Swinging my toddler into my arms, feeling his arms wrap around my neck. How could my father leave me at the same age?
It was a week later, I remembered the box in the car. I took it to my study to go through.
Three magazines; an old razor with no blade; a Bible and a set of reading glasses.
I put the glasses on, I could see through them perfectly. I must get my eyes tested, I knew they were getting worse, I didn’t realise they were that bad.
Putting everything in a dustbin bag, I slipped the glasses into my bag. Perhaps, the opticians could match the prescription, it might save me a bit of money.
Three days later, I was having dinner with my friends. The four of us sat around the pub table. Steve sat opposite me, we had been friends since school. We had grown up together and shared many a heartbreak. Next to me sat Claire, who had helped me get through cancer when I was diagnosed at 18. She had sat in the cubicle across from me, whilst we both endured chemotherapy. Our love of thrillers and Marvel comics had cemented our friendship. Opposite her, sat my half brother Tom, my best friend in all ways. We shared the same mother and lucky for him a different father. He was waffling on about some investment he was taking part in, where he could double my money.
I was only half listening to him. As my financial investor, I trusted him completely. Half of what he said wasn’t making any sense. I, as usual, was struggling to read the menu. I must get my glasses sorted.
That’s when I remembered my father’s were in my bag. Taking them out I put his reading glasses on. Yes, that was better. Mixed grill and salad that’s what I would have. Looking up at my friends, in my new glasses, everything was much clearer. Clearer than I would have ever managed.
Tom was lying to me, the investment he was talking about was a cover because he had lost all my money. I was broke. Claire had terminal cancer and didn’t know how to tell me she had three months to live. Steve was sleeping with my partner and had been for the last five years. He thought my son was his. It was all there written across their faces.
I took the glasses off, starting to sweat. The words disappeared, but the knowledge they were true, remained. I put the glasses back on and the secrets were back. The waitress came over, she was counting the minutes until the end of the shift, so she could shoot up again.
I looked over at the barman, he was eying up a young customer trying to work out the best way to kill her. She would be his tenth victim.
As I scanned the room, all the secrets were there. Murder, lust, greed and hatred. The human race at its worse.
I remember Steve gripping my arm and asking if I was okay. I think I told him to fuck off as I steamed out of the restaurant.
That was a year ago, Claire is dead now. I live in a bedsit, all I could afford from my ruined finances. As far as I know, Tom is living in Dubai. Steve moved in with my partner six months ago, he is now bringing my son up as his own.
I am waiting for the doctors to bang on my door. The order came through a day ago to have me committed to the best facility, the social can afford.
I have been diagnosed as insane. The thing was, like my father, I couldn’t stop wearing those reading glasses. Even if it did expose me to all the evil of humanity. No one believes me when I tell them. Why would they? I am clinically insane after all.
I am my father’s daughter in every way.
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