My father treats my mother like shit. I’ve never spotted any black eyes or bruises, and she swears that it’s never gotten physical, because she doesn’t want me to hate him. She doesn’t want their fighting to impact the way that I view him because she’s a better person than he’ll ever be.
But I found the bathroom door splintered, blood smeared across the wood, glass from the mirror which hung on the back of it scattered across the floor like ice.
Three times. That door had to be repaired three times. That mirror had to be replaced three times.
Even if he’s never actually hit her, never wrapped his yellow tinted hands around her neck, right above the faded cross he gave her back when he loved her, he’s still a bastard.
He still deserves to die.
The first time I had that thought, I shoved it away. How could I possibly want to stop the heart of the person who raised me, who created me? He needed rehab, a divorce, time away from all of us – but he didn’t need to die. No. That was a sick way of thinking.
But the thoughts kept coming. Whenever he yelled at her for spending too much money on groceries or accused her of drinking the beer he’d finished off the night before or called her a cunt in front of my fucking face, I would wish him dead. And then a few minutes would go by, my heart rate would slow to its normal pace, and I would take the words back.
And then one night, I let the idea linger. Marinate in my mind. Realized that it wasn’t some angry, irrational threat. It was the truth. I wanted my father dead.
I realized it after watching my mother buy a new phone, the pay as you go type. She picked it up because my father had been harassing her over her original phone, blowing it up with messages about what a horrible wife and mother she was, about how he hated her guts and was out fucking other women.
I forced her to sleep in my room that night (instead of on the sauce stained couch where she’d slept since I was in high school), because I was terrified of what he’d do to her once he realized his texts weren’t going through.
I waited until mom’s snoring drifted past my ears and, through whispered words, I begged the gods, the stars, the universe to take care of the problem.
I had a gut feeling it was either him or her and I wouldn’t let it be her. I wouldn’t let anything happen to her. The best thing for everybody would be if he was out of the picture. Gone. For good.
The dry, hacking coughs woke me up six hours later. I could hear my mother’s cooing, but she was no longer in my room. She was in the adjoining room, tending to my father as he spat globs of red into the trash can.
I could hear the tears in his voice. Hear him saying sorry, sorry, so sorry, and I could sense my mother falling for it.
I guess I fell too, because I took back my request. I didn’t want him to die, not then, not like that.
And an hour later, he was fine. Out of the house. Back at the bar.
Just like that, he recovered. But I was still shaken. I felt like I had an otherworldly power, or at least contact with an otherworldly power, that I didn’t want to abuse again. I still wanted my father’s death, but I didn’t want to be the one responsible for it.
So I stopped asking. For a year. Two. Three.
And then something inside me snapped.
This time, I was so pissed that I was tearing my flesh apart with a pocketknife. Dug the blade deep into my ankle, trying to rip through three layers of skin to reach my tattoo. I’d gotten it back when my family was still semi-happy, back when I thought I’d want a symbol of myself, my mother, and my father.
Now? I wanted to peel it off of me. It was bad enough that his genes were swimming around in my system. I didn’t need the tattoo, too.
My mom would have stopped me if she was home, wiped away the blood and bandaged it with gauze, but she was stuck at the hospital, undergoing surgery for the broken arm she got by tripping over the dog. And my father? At the bar. No concern for her. No guilt. No apologies.
Lately, when I looked in his eyes, I saw nothingness. Black dots. Like his soul had abandoned his body.
So that time, I didn’t take back the request. I repeated it over and over like a chant. Please kill him kill him let him die die die die die.
My phone screen flashed at four in the morning, while I was slumped in a chair next to my mother’s hospital bed. It was some barmaid using my dad’s phone to tell me he had been shot by our neighbor who had been selling him drugs. Died two minutes after the bullet hit.
I cried, but it was out of relief.
Mom cried, but it was out of love.
She was the only reason I ever felt guilty – but it didn’t really hit me until the wake. Sometime in between the tearful speeches and the cheese platters, when she leaned over his coffin, pressing her nude lips against his forehead. Brushing back his hair. Whispering about how much she would miss him.
Could he have changed? Could he have gotten better? Maybe I shouldn’t have wished him dead. Maybe he deserved another chance.
The second the thought popped into my mind, that I wished he was alive, I heard a scream that turned to a gurgling cry.
My father’s hands had reached up from the padded coffin and wrapped around my mother’s neck, right above the cross he had bought her on their wedding day.