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When I was five I thought monsters were the crazy animals who loved the dark. So they would hide under my bed and try to scare me. But I was only eight years old when I realized the real kind of monsters existed in the world. They don’t even have to look scary of mean or anything unknown to someone. A monster could be someone that you know.
The monster I knew was someone that I will never again have respect for. This one person has not said one word to me and me with him.
I couldn’t look at my own father without thinking of what he had done to my mother countless times. He would come home drunk and I’d already be asleep. The one time I wasn’t was the time I saw the monster come out of him. He struck her and made her fall to the floor. The next day she had a bruised eye. Ever since then, I would lie awake at night and listen for him to come home, to him yell, and to my mother cry.
Today, my mother is almost fifty years old. She’s in good health and there hasn’t been a problem since. That’s because my father is in the hospital with Fatal Familial Insomnia. My girlfriend, Leslie, tells me I should go see him, that he could die any day and I should talk to him.
I don’t want to. There’s no reason to see a monster on their death bed. If he’s so close to death he’s already dead to me.
“I’m going up to the hospital Caleb. You should come with me,” my mom would say every Monday morning. She always had that hopeful look in her eyes. That was always the only time I never took her up on her offer. It never made sense to me why she visits him. He beat her! And I witnessed it. I didn’t need to give him sympathy. He never gave her any.
“Caleb? You should go talk to your dad,” Leslie said on Monday morning. It was before my mom had asked.
I shook my head no. “I don’t need to. He’s dead to me Emily.”
“I know, Caleb. But he’s sick. You should make peace with him before—"
“Make peace? Why? I haven’t talked to him for twelve years, Em. I’m not going to go. If he dies, he dies.”
At that moment my mom walked into the kitchen. “Caleb?” She sighed before continuing. “I know you haven’t talked to Philip in years but please, please come in today. He might not have that much longer to live and you are all he has besides me. He asks about you all the time if you will come in. Every time I say no, I know his heart breaks. Please, Caleb, do it for me.” Her eyes welled up with tears and she turned away to hide them.
I shook my head and walked away to hide my disgust. Why? Why would I want to see my abusive dad? Dying is what he gets for hurting my mom. His heart breaking is nothing but lies. Everything he says is lies.
It hurts to see how determined my mom is to get me in to the hospital to see him. It’s been almost two months now. If I went with her I wouldn’t say anything to him at all. I wouldn’t even look at him or acknowledge his presence. He’s dead to me.
“Caleb? Are you going?” Emily whispered.
I looked at her then down at my hands and sighed. Two days had passed since that day. I still believe in monsters. Even as my mom walks down the stairs in her plain black dress, tears in her eyes and on her cheeks. That monster that was on his death bed is still a monster even though he died two days ago. He was a monster twelve years ago when I was only eight years old.
And he will still be a monster even after today. His funeral. Even though I’m staying home while everyone else who forgave him shows up for his funeral. I don’t have room to forgive him. Ever.
Because he was a monster.