Until Now

“Close your eyes, have no fear….” he began to sing as he rocked himself back and forth.

She looked at him with pity in her pale blue eyes. She sat down in a chair next to him and was careful to place her purse in her lap. He doesn’t even know I’m here, she thought.  “Hello, Dad,” she said.

He held out his hand and she took it before she kissed the top of his bald head.  It was hard for her to see him so weak in mind and frail in body.  He was a Navy man and had a faded tattoo on his left arm to prove it!  It bore the name of his ship the USS Helena.  Like most in his generation, he was loyal, hard-working and dependable.  Each morning he would drink his coffee black, go to work, come home, read the paper, have dinner, watch TV, and go to bed.   Her mom was full of mystery and hidden secrets, but her dad was an open book.

“Shall we take a walk outside,” she offered, “Let’s get some exercise.” Mostly she just wanted to escape the smell of urine and sickness that permeated the place.

“What dear?” he asked.  She repeated her offer and he accepted. 

He still had moments of clarity when he could recall the past in vivid details, but those days were slipping away.  They were so alike, same pale blue eyes, same quiet spirit.  They sat down on a bench near the fountain in the center of the yard.  “Are you comfortable?”  she asked.

He didn’t answer but asked instead, “Do you know Helen Ford?”  He didn’t wait for an answer.   “She was my bride.  We were married right before the war.  She had beautiful golden hair that reached down to her waist.  She had the saddest eyes you ever saw and I loved her at first sight.  I wrote to her every day.  But when while I was away at war she fell in love with another.    I even got a tattoo with her name. After Helen and I divorced, I had my tattoo changed to say USS Helena and told everyone that I served on a ship by that name.”  He laughed, “It wasn’t true of course, but I didn’t want to explain about Helen.”  I never told my new wife or my children.” 

Until now, she thought as she struggled to make sense of his words.

Inspired by Carry On Tuesday’s prompt #74 Close your eyes, have no fear….




Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 3:03 AM  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Perhaps releasing his secret would finally give him peace! A sensitive, beautiful narrative!

  2. Very nice, liked the twist at the end.

  3. I like twists in the tale

  4. Heartbreaking!

  5. Great twist, but so sad for her losing her father and he losing Helen even if all that time ago. Did he know he was telling his daughter or was he just talking…?

  6. No, he didn’t realize who he was talking to.

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