By Scott Bailey © 2013
He would never see his son again.
Unless he went made it through today. Found the strength from somewhere. Put aside his pain.
The trauma his son had suffered had not been at his hands. Logically there was no responsibility for it on his shoulders.
Logic was a weak fence against raw emotion. Emotion that told him that he had failed as a father, that the protection he was supposed to give had been lacking, just that once.
Nobody agreed with him.
That made no difference.
So, he would not compound failure with failure. This was his last chance. He would take it.
He had tried all other avenues. Therapy, prayer, medication. Nothing worked, Yet what it had done was show him the way. It had made clear the path he needed to tread.
So he took a deep breath and rose from his seat. He nodded to the doctor signalling his readiness. The doctor frowned but kept his piece. He opened the door and let him enter his son’s room.
The room was sparse, clinical. His son lay curled on top of the bedsheets, motionless. Awake but unresponsive. He did not look up or acknowledge his father’s entrance.
There was a small bedside table to the left of the bed on which sat a plastic beaker of water. The bed was positioned by the window. Sunlight tried to make an impression on the coldness of the room but failed. The only other furniture was a white chest of drawers and some empty white bookshelves.
Then there were the books.
The books, many many books, that should have rested on the shelves or strewn on the floor. An impressive collection for one so young.
They hung impossibly in the air.
He sighed. He knew what came next. It had all become familiar to him. This time though he did not avoid it. He did not flinch or try to defend himself. This time he smiled at his son.
The books flew at him. As if thrown by immense strength and anger. The hard spines whacked into his flesh like dull nails. Again and again and again. Raining pain upon his body. The books that hit him fell to the ground limply, twitched like dying flies, then were suddenly whisked up and flung again.
There was no let-up.
He could feel his body being pummelled into a bloody bruised mess. But he took it. Stood calmly, raised his arms towards his son and kept smiling. Gave all he had left to him – gave him his unconditional love. Took the punishment not meant for him.
The books whirled faster as the rage grew. Like a tornado of leather and card, they descended on him, pounded him. The pain passed over what was bearable to no longer being processable – so he no longer felt it. He knew he would not last much longer – if this continued his body would fail him. Darkness crept inwards along the edges of his eyes. He kept smiling, locked his legs and stood, arms out.
The whirl became a darkness that was trying to beat his flesh from his bones. He felt like the bones themselves were splintering beneath.
Then it stopped.
Suddenly all the books fell to the floor. Sunlight sprang into the room as if a lock had burst.
His son looked up and held out his arms for his father.