Murky Instruction

                                   I met Carl when I was fourteen and he was only thirty. Carl came into our lives as my mother’s new boyfriend, but soon after he took the role of the man in the house and marry my mom. At that time, I was wondering why Carl decided to jump head on into our small troubling family.                                        My real father left us when I was only five. I don’t remember much of him besides hearing him crying and screaming in the nights. “your father has demons from things he did and saw before” my mom told me. “never ask him anything about it”.  To talk with my dad about his past was never an option for me. Actually, me and my dad didn’t talk at all. Our only son and dad connection were when he grabbed me once in a while in his strong arms and cry, “please have a good life” he used to tell me before he releases me from his strong hug. I loved my dad, and the mystery behind his horrible past just ignite my imagination as I grow up. The image of my father was of dark mysterious hero.                                                     My dad took his life only a year after he left me and my mom. But only after Carl came into our lives my mom had the courage to tell me how he kills himself, Carl was sitting next to her in the family room holding her hand while she was talking. “Your father shoot himself in the head with a shotgun” she told me and left the room, almost running to her bedroom leaving me and Carl alone. “I’m sure that your father was an incredible man”, Carl broke the silence. “You don’t know anything about my dad” I answered rudely to Carl.  Carl was smart enough to not to argue with a rebellious angry teenager. He just said, you are right, I got no saying about your father, and he stood up and walk to the bedroom to check on my mother.                                                                                                                                                                              For the next two years me and Carl lived parallel to each other.                                                                                          As much as I was sarcastic, I could see that between Carl and my mom there was a real love.                                                        I on the other hand, was using my dead father figure as an excuse for drugs and alcohol. More than once I saw Carl trying to approach to me, but my defiant attitude drove him away. the same goes for my mother, she also couldn’t face my burst of anger when I felt that I was judged. In my own mind, to destroy my young life was the closest I can get to be like my mythical father.                                                                               Until the day I overdose. Luckily for me Carl heard the disturbing sound from my room, I was shaking so hard that my legs hit the floor with force. When I got to the hospital, I was clinically dead, but somehow the hospital stuff brought me back to life. That was the day that I got the letter. Carl was holding it in his hand waiting for me to wake up in the hospital bed. It’s a very dark and hard to understand, Carl told me while he hands over a few pieces of paper to me, after I opened my eyes. Its from you father, he wrote it just before he did what he did to end his life. I didn’t ask Carl or my mom why they didn’t give me that letter earlier, at that time, I guess that they waited for the right moment to do so. Apparently, my near-death experience was the right moment.                                                                                                                                                                                      The letter was made from four papers written in a very hard to read hand right. I could imagine my dad writing with a shaky hand while the shotgun on his side waiting to do its part. There was a title at the beginning of the first page that said “Instruction for the traveler in the dark”, after that the pages where divided into small paragraphs, every paragraph had a beginning but no end. It was as my dad was not able to complete the messages but left it to me. it was a riddle made from a dark story with ideas with no end and all in extremely hard to read handwriting. For me to understand and complete my father last words was a challenge that I committed to, and before I knew it Carl become part of it also. Looking back, I think that thanks to that letter we became close, not as father and son but as partners in the struggle of life. For hours on end we use to sit together and analyze the words, making a complete sentence and then trying to understand the idea behind them.                                                                                                        After a month of work, we were able to get the basic idea. It was about a man traveling in the dark, his only goal is to stay alive until the morning come. But for him to achieve it he need to push the darkness away before it will pass through his skin into his soul. The man doesn’t know how long until the light will come to save him, but he knows that part of the darkness is inside him already, pulling like a magnet the darkness from the outside to come inside him. The man desperately looking for anything that can make his skin thicker and harder against the darkness. In my mind I could imagine my father fighting not to lose his soul.                                                                                                                                                                         For the next years, me and Carl continued what my dad started, it was our bonding, our way to deal with my mom’s death from cancer and everything else that life threw on us. The journey of the man in his dark world continue more. From the four original scrambled pages it become a more then one hundred pages book. The man in the story never found the way out of the darkness into the light, but his struggle helps us find ours.                                                                                                                                                                             I’m a grown man now, I have my own family and kids.                                                                                                                        I see Carl every weekend, we talk about life, about my late mom and obviously about the man in our story.                                                                                                                                                                                Only after so many years I asked Carl the question that I wanted to ask for so long. Why did you and my mom waited until I had my overdosed and almost died to give me the letter from my dad?                                                           Carl looked at me and smile, your dad never wrote that letter.  What? I jumped in surprise, so who did?                                         It was you that wrote that letter, Carl said pointing at me, you wrote it moments before you collapsed from overdose. I found it when I came home from the hospital to bring you some clothes from your room. It was on the floor near your bed.                                                                                                                                     The man in the dark was not your father’s way to save you, you have created him to save yourself.                                                                                                                                                        You gave yourself the courage to fight the darkness. You were the man in the dark, but you also were the man that finds the light.                                                                                                                                                              


6 thoughts on “Murky Instruction

  1. I just re-read this. This is actually an amazing story. Step-father/ mothers dont often get recognized for their contributions and this is such a touching way these 2 connected. I love it. Thank you for bringing this perspective

    Liked by 1 person

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