The Death Held in a Secret

Submitted into Contest #37 in response to: Write a story that starts with the reveal of a long-kept secret.... view prompt



"Emma.... I'm not your father."

"What?" Emma stared at the man she had called father for the short eighteen years of her life. Her mother had died when she was a baby and she and her father had lived alone ever since. She loved this man, adored him actually. They had been inseparable since her childhood. She even looked like him. Now, here he was, standing in front of her, telling her he wasn't her father. Either she wasn't comprehending or he wasn't making sense. There was no way what he was saying was true. After all, they shared the same surname.

Jack Wilson studied Emma Howard's face, looking for any sign of belief, or unbelief. Any sign at all! She stared blankly at him, eyes unblinking. He didn't answer her question. Jack studied his wringing hands, his shuffling feet. Why doesn't she say something, show some emotion?! Women are so confusing! One moment, they're the most emotional, dramatic creatures; the next minute, they're like stone! He looked back up into the face of the girl he called daughter for most of her short life of eighteen years. He had told her that her mother had died when she was a baby; they had lived alone ever since. She had loved him, adored him actually, and he felt the same for her. They had been inseparable. In fact, they even had similar features. But she wasn't his daughter, nor he her father. Jack felt about to burst. Say something!

"ANSWER ME!" Emma yelled in his face. Ahhh, men are so exasperating! They avoid obvious questions, thinking the answer will hurt you when really, the untold answer hurts more! Men! Jack Wilson shifted uneasily under her stone-cold glare.

"Emma... you heard me. I.... I'm not your father. And your name isn't Wilson.... It's Howard... Emma Howard." She was taken aback. She took a step backward, away from Jack.

"There must be some deeper meaning... or you're joking... or... STOP IT!" she fumbled. "It's not funny!"

"Emma, it isn't a joke. I... you're not my real daughter. I have never been married. I never even knew your mother or father. I never told you, but it's true. I couldn't hurt you like that." Emma almost choked at the bitter truthfulness in his voice.

There he goes again, saying he couldn't tell me the truth when the unspoken hurts more! She could feel her sanity slowly slipping away; whatever she had left of it, for that matter. She started laughing hysterically. Jack shot her a nervous glance and the bartender slowly walked away. Emma contemplated everything that had just occurred, picking out all the tiny details, scouring over the memories of her life. Her head shot up from staring at button of her skirt. Don't say it. It'll look stupid. She and Jack sat at the bar.

Jack ordered a drink and swallowed behind the lump in his throat. He shook irritably. Why couldn't I just say she was my daughter?! Why couldn't I just keep this secret?! Life would've been better! Emma was gazing at his drink, eyes cloudy and face expressionless. She had been like this for months, slowly getting worse, ever since she had been abused by that stupid idiot of a boy. Yes, Jack had to admit, he had liked Jay. But he started acting weird, drinking. Emma loved him and refused to see the change in him. They went out one afternoon and Emma had limped home, half dead, beaten and bloody. After that, she had started to go insane. Jack had tried everything: doctors, psychiatrists, meds. Nothing helped. She was slowly slipping away. And that's why he had to tell her. If he didn't... and she died... he would regret it for the rest of his life. Living a lie. He could not do that, not to her. Not after she trusted him with unquestionable devotedness.

Why did he tell me now? After everything that happened? Dark memories, vague, clouded her mind. Of limping home in the dark, barely alive. She hadn't seen Jay since that night, but she wanted to. Wanted to beat him, to... to.... She didn't know what. She had loved him. Obviously, that didn't last long. Emma stood and brushed off her skirt. Jack reached out to grab her arm, but she pulled away, instead reaching around to hug him. He was apparently surprised, but he hugged her back. "Thank you... for telling me. And for being my father."

"Of course." Jack whispered. He clutched Emma tightly, tears streaking down his face. "I love you, like my daughter. And I would be so... so happy if you would still think of me as your dad. Because you will always be a daughter to me. Always." Jack wanted to moan aloud, and he trembled violently, on the verge of breaking down.

Emma pulled away and breathed shakily. "I love you, too," she whispered. She smiled weakly and turned for the door. The people sitting at the bar peared at her, no doubt because of all her yelling, and the multiple scars striped on her face. She pulled open the glass door, legs wobbly and breath ragged. Tears streamed down her face and her heart felt as if it would burst open. Grief gripped her very soul like she was gripping the handle of her car. This is it... She pulled open her car door and sat behind the wheel, repeatedly pounding on the steering wheel.

Jack watched Emma from the window and anguish overtook him. His heart felt as if it would burst open, his lips quivered from holding back sobs. He watched her pull away, and his legs gave way. He fell onto a chair, his very soul screaming with pain and sorrow. Why? WHY???!!! Why did he have to tell this secret? This agonizing news? He shivered, although it was stuffy inside. He didn't know if he would ever see her again. He didn't know how long she would live. But he couldn't go after her. Jack closed his eyes and lay back, feeling his happiness slowly slipping out of his grasp.

April 18, 2020 02:55

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Annony Mous
22:54 Apr 25, 2020

Thank you for your input. Perhaps I’ll try that!


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Anvita Bhogadi
12:29 Apr 24, 2020

maybe you should try and elaborate your stories more and give some sort of proper endings and be clear about what you want to express


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