Last minute story I conjured up today. I suppose it’s in honor of the ending of another year.
No one would take you.
So I did. I took you. I took you and brought you home.
What else could I do.
You were my monster.
And I loved you. I loved you. But maybe not enough.
At least that’s what they say.
But I remember you, my boy, and how we’d play together, in the backyard. You didn’t like sports, no, but you loved to pretend, so we’d pretend. We were space men invading a far off moon, in search of alien enemies. I remember teaching you to swim in your grandad’s pond. I remember sitting up with you all night after your dog was hit by a car and how you refused to leave his side for hours even after he was dead.
But I never loved you enough I guess.
That’s what they say.
I hadn’t seen you in, what was it, three, four months before today. You were back from school on a break and needed money. You and I had an argument, I think, about something stupid. They were all stupid though. All of them. Money, girls, drugs. They all blur for me into a decoupage of pain. A stain that can’t be cleaned up. But that’s what all of this is, isn’t it? The stain that won’t come clean. Your mother could have fixed things. I am sure of it. I am sure. But that dark spot in her chest wasn’t nothing like they said, was it?
And looking at you now I can still see you laughing in the back yard as we shoot the aliens together. And was everyone just an alien in the end, or was it you that were from somewhere else? Somewhere cold and distant.
And they tell me I should have seen the signs. I should have seen something. ANYTHING. And I saw everything, even in the letters that were simply asking for an extra fifty dollars until your school loan came through. But sometimes even seeing everything you can miss it all. Like the way you never wore short sleeve shirts, so I would never see the cuts there. Or the way you would somehow get smaller the madder you get, as if you were retracting, compacting, preparing as if for an explosion. Or how at the end there you wouldn’t look me in the eye so that the last memory I have of you was the way your hands would clench and unclench as we spoke, and how bad you smelled, and how the last thing you said to me was ‘bye dad’. And then there was the gulf of those months and then a call from your Aunt Karen telling me to turn on the news, that you were on the news, and did I know, did I know what it would be? Did I know?
That’s what they all want to know.
Did I see it?
Did I see what you’d do?
Did I see the monster you’d become?
And how do I tell them that for me, even at the worst, when your grades were declining and you were getting into fights and were talking back to me that I only saw the laughing little boy playing space man in the backyard? How do I tell them that the monster they see is still the miracle that his mother and I had prayed for when she had learned she couldn’t have children? How do I tell them that my monster was once someone too? How do I tell them that I still love him and will bury him in an unmarked grave beside his mother?
And how do I tell them that I know as little about what created my monster as they do, and that even if they find some reason that it will never clean away the stain of what he did, or its effects. How do I tell them that in five years, in ten years, in twenty years I will still love my monster, even as I hate what he became and what he did, and nothing can ever, ever change that.
Because he may have been my monster, but first he was my son.