Family

Family

A common scene in the American south

I knock on the door of the Victorian house. My heart pounds and my hands sweat as I stand outside in the southern heat.

There's a breeze. But I can't feel it.

The latch clicks and the door opens.

Standing in front of me is the man I now know to be my father.

However, for several years I knew him by as just the man whose family my family has been working for through generations.

"You're here," He says as he opens the door wide enough for me to enter, "You're mother said you might be on your way."

I walk inside of the house.

It feels different knowing that the house I clean actually belongs to the person who I share blood with.

"I just wanted to ask some questions," I say.

He shuts the door behind me and gives me a look.

"And I have the answers," He says.

I watch as he pulls a cigar out of the pocket of his shirt.

"Let's go to the back porch," He says.

I follow him as he leads me to the back of the house and through the sliding glass door to the outside.

We sit on chairs he keeps for cooler weather.

For quieter times.

Not like this moment.

But I suppose he wants me to be peaceful.

I watch as he lights up his cigar and smokes for a few seconds.

He tilts his head to look at me.

"I'm ready," He says.

I take a deep breath.

"Did you know?" I ask.

He shakes his head.

"She told me that you weren't mine," He says, "I believed your mother. Up until now, I didn't think she had a reason to lie."

"I don't believe that," I mutter.

I take a look at him. I study his features. White skin.

Then I think of my mother who is as dark as night.

And then there's me.

Brown.

How could he not know.

He gives me a sad smile.

"Things were different then," He says sadly, "Even if she told me the truth...there really wouldn't have been much I could do. It's not like now. Now things are... If we had been together today...then things would be..."

He keeps pausing. As if he can't say the words he wants to say.

He opens his mouth again but before he can say anything the sliding glass door opens.

We both turn our heads to see his wife and two daughters standing there.

The girls-who I know now are my half sisters-look at me.

"Oh!" His wife says as she glares at me as if I'm a cockroach she wishes to get rid of but can't seem to do. I always wondered why she hated me. Now it all makes sense.

She knows.

Or rather, has suspected.

"You're still here? I thought you finished cleaning the house hours ago," She quips at me.

I look back at him.

At my dad.

I wait for him to respond for me.

To tell her the truth that's now out of the bag.

To confirm her suspicions.

But he doesn't say anything.

Instead the air in the room has shifted.

I recognize it instantly.

He's back to acting like he doesn't know me.

Or rather who I really am to him.

Like he's done all my life.

I stand up.

"I did finish cleaning," I say quickly to his wife, "I just came out here to say goodbye"

The two girls watch me curiously as I walk past them.

His wife stares me down.

I don't look back to see his face.

Instead I decide right then and there that it's best to just follow his lead.

From now on...

I tell myself.

...I'll go back to pretending like he doesn't exist....

...I'll go back to pretending like we aren't family.
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May 6, 2019

I'm a stereotypical ADOS/southern writer for writing something like this but LOL.