Sunday, August 2, 2009

Daddy - The Amulet: Continued

Daddy used to get home at 7:30 every night. Without fail, in fact; every night, like clockwork, at 7:30. I'd have dinner ready. Daddy wasn't picky; as long as he could eat, he never really cared what it was. When we could afford something better: ham, a chicken... of course that's what he really liked. But nearly every night, we ate soup. Luckily we kept enough bones on hand to flavor our soups, or else Daddy was forced just to enjoy the vegetables we grew outside. Much of those, too, were kept frozen. But Daddy made life good. Mostly because Mom had died when I was two, so Daddy took over both responsibilities. For a few years, our neighbor from a mile down the road would walk to our house and keep an eye on me while Daddy was at the docks. But none of this really matters; none of this is what this tale is really about.

Daddy was a wonderful man. Though he had no real reason to ever raise a hand to me, he never even did it just because. He was kind, quiet, often withdrawn, but always gave of himself and found that extra hour of the evening to spend time with me. And the best days -the days that I did my best around the house and spent a little extra on making our soup perfect- were Wednesdays. Wednesdays were the days when the Maligned came in. The Maligned was a crab boat that spent a week at a time out on the water landing pots (those, Daddy said, were like big baskets) and pots of crab. Though Daddy could never afford to buy a crab (however, on rare occasions, the guys would give him a little one), the captain of the Maligned always brought Daddy a gift to give to me. The captain, a Mr. Leland, had a daughter of his own back at his home across the sea, so he felt a special connection to me. And that is why Wednesdays were the best days.
One week, I was given an old, rusty diving bell. Another time: a still-functional compass. A few times I'd gotten a bottle with a slip of paper in them, but I'd never gotten up the guts to open them and read the notes. Something about the helplessness and the thoughts of the likely long-dead writers... Anyway, they went in the collection. The gifts were great, all of them. But the part I really liked was the stories Daddy told with them. Were they truth? I never knew and I never cared; Daddy embellished every one with wonderul tales of the object, to whom it supposedly belonged, and just how it came to get landed by the fishermen. I can still recall every story from each of my special items like the backs of my hands. But, Daddy only told them once, the memory was up to me.

One Wednesday, things were different. Not in the way that Daddy forgot the gift, oh no, he remembered it alright. But this time, the gift itself was bad. I can't describe it any better than that: it was bad, bad, bad. Daddy brought it home in a sack. The bag was just a typical bait bag: burlap, thick, scratchy... but this time, it was the bag that was keeping the bad thing quiet. Until I opened it.
It was the size of a saucer. It was round, weighty, and exquisitely ornate. Etched on it's surface were designs I'd never seen (Daddy called them 'runes'), but I knew right away I didn't like them. They... well, they glowed. The deep-red surrounding the marks, laid out in gem-like rings, hummed to the beat of my own heart. I couldn't touch it. No: I wouldn't touch it. And that's when Daddy got bad, too. I had never once seen my Daddy like that: fear, anger, rage... his eyes ebony with hate. He came after me.
Fortunately I am faster.

I buried Daddy two weeks ago. I have the... what, 'amulet' I guess, wrapped in three bedsheets and locked in my jewelry box. I am sad, yes, but the way I'd seen Daddy... well, I know he's better off. I wish I had the pitchfork back, though. Because I've seen things...

Just outside.