He lay there, knowing this was the end. The girl was beside him, holding his hand. She had led him here, to heal. She was not real- he knew that now, in a moment of clarity. She was his child from before. Before he shut life out. He lay there gazing at the sky. The cold ice was starting to echo through his thick suede coat but he could only half feel it. Only half of him was there anyway. The regret overwhelmed him. His stomach ached in a way beyond any doctor could prescribe. It ached just above his body. Like a spinning sphere of water being sucked out by an invisible vacuum. His soul was leaving, he thought. He was going to die there, alone. He made himself alone. When he had her. His child, who he left. He left her alone. He left her to deal with reality so he could escape it. The water leaked faster now, heavier. Usually he would re-fill the leak with beer and whiskey but now, he was ready to leave.
The girl stood at the shore, unblinking at the sight before her eyes.
The broken ice was clear and distinct.
A long crack walking up to where her father had lay, now only a peeping hole with what she imagined was black, deathly water.
She couldn’t believe she was too late.
She had chased her father for weeks, following only his IP address from the emails he sent to her, pouring out his soul, begging for forgiveness.
What is there to forgive? She thought.
You were the only person who was there with me, Dad.
It was me and you, against her.
She shivered at the memory of the one who broke her father.
He, who protected her.
He, who took the abuse so that she could be free.
The tears were falling onto her chest now.
Her head ached.
The tears, they seeped out of her with no sound, no heavy breathing. They just leaked.
She thought could feel a part of her soul dying, along with her father.
A little while later, she turned around.
The old cabin was weathered but had a lovely vibe to it.
On the porch she could see a man, wearing a thick woolen jacket with some kind of Aztec print on it.
His jeans were well worn. She could see that even from the distance.
He was bent over a rocking chair and in it sat a frail man, within a thick blanket cocoon.
It was her father.
She ran up.
I can’t believe this, she thought. I thought he was dead!
As she reached the steps the caretaker smiled at her and gestured to her father.
Her father sat still.
It was a rocking chair but he did not move a muscle.
His old face looked different.
His eyes were vacant.
She knelt down beside him. Dad! Dad!
The man looked at her with those vacant eyes but she could see a slight hue of a quizzical look peeping through.
He is gone, girl. The caretaker said.
What do you mean? He is alive.
He, as you know him, is gone, love.
She stared at the caretaker, at his beautiful, kind face and his Autumn eyes, full of sadness and loss- but magnificent beauty.
I am his nurse, he said. Breaking the spell.
He has employed me to watch him until he dies.
I don’t understand, she whispered.
How could she?
Her father never told her he was diagnosed.