The package, wrapped in brown paper, lies on the porch, uncaring of its surroundings.
I wrap my sweater tighter around my body and walk out of the house to be greeted by the characteristic chill of October morning air.
Picking up the package, I examine it, noting that it’s slightly heavy.
I go back to the house, my feet immediately cold at contact with the floor.
Sitting on the couch, I carefully open it, to find a box filled to the brim with letters written in an unfamiliar handwriting, all addressed to me.
I open the first envelope and am immediately engulfed in a familiar scent, though I can’t remember where it’s from.
If you’re reading this letter, it means that I’m dead. If you don’t know who I am at this point, it means I have failed, as a person and as a father.
As a father?
Wait, does that mean that he’s my –?
Yes, I’m your father. I know that you are confused and angry right now, but I will try to explain it to you to the best of my ability.
I left your mother because I was incapable of being a good father. I was a coward. I thought that being there would make things worse than they were.
My marriage with your mother was slowly crumbling when we found out that she was pregnant with you. I began to believe that you would save our relationship.
But I was wrong. It was no fault of yours, this one was on me.
Then why does it feel like my fault?
After you came, your mother spent day and night with you, and never trusted me to do anything. I was sick and tired of it, and one day I just lost it completely. I packed up and left the house at two in the morning. I visited your room before I left, and you were sound asleep, hugging your favourite bunny. I wish I could have touched you one time before leaving, but I knew that I wouldn’t leave if I did so.
What a jerk.
I left a note for your mother, explaining everything to her. Immediately after this I moved out of a city and got a new job.
I didn’t get married again. I didn’t find anyone as incredible as your mother.
Then why did you leave?
You could have come back.
I might have even accepted you back.
I’m sorry that she died. I can’t imagine how much of a toll it would have taken on you, a seven-year-old kid.
I don’t know if you remember, but after your mother’s death, I was the one who took you to a social worker for your adoption.
If you want any gratitude or brownie points for your charity, you’re not getting it.
Nothing you did after that would ever make that okay.
I knew about your mother’s death because I kept in touch with her regularly. I convinced her to send me a photograph of you on each of your birthdays and on holidays, and she kept that promise till her death.
After you got adopted, I started a regular correspondence with your foster parents. I have a whole box of just your photographs and their letters.
I told them not to tell you about me. I knew you would be angry and probably would refuse to talk to me.
But you should have tried.
Maybe I would have agreed.
I came to your graduation. I made myself scarce. You looked beautiful, smiling widely as you received your diploma. I’ve framed the photograph of you laughing with your friends after graduating, and it’s in front of me as I write this. I imagine that I’m talking to you through it.
I don’t think you have forgiven me. Maybe you never will. I certainly haven’t forgiven myself for what I did.
But the reason you’re reading this at all is because I’m not there to tell you in person.
I am dead.
After finishing this letter, I will be instructing my lawyer to give this to you, in the box with all the letters that I wrote to you in the past, but never had the courage to actually send. I will also include the photographs and letters sent by your mother and your foster parents.
I hope that these letters will help you find peace in what can only be described as an unimaginably confusing time. I hope that you find it in your heart to forgive me someday.
I have also left you some inheritance. It is however of great value to me, and I will not be sending it in the same package. You will have to come to the address written below to collect it.
I check the address.
This is the house address for the place me and my mother lived in till her death.
After your mother died and you got adopted, I went back to my old room and removed a loose floorboard next to the bed. I kept an empty box there, and came back every year, adding something new to it. I thought that the day I found the courage to meet you, I could give it to you, and we could have some sort of understanding.
However, I know myself. I know that the box still lies hidden under the wood, dusty and worn. You need to go and get it to receive your inheritance. My lawyer’s number is below this letter, please call him if you have any questions.
I’m sorry Jasmine. I’m sorry that I wasn’t alive to say this to you.
I’m possessed by an urge to rip the letter in half.
But I stop myself and instead just fling the piece of paper across the room.
My hands are shaking.
My father is dead.
I hate him.
He died before I even knew him.
A stranger died, leaving me an inheritance.
He left, breaking my heart and breaking my mother forever.
And now he comes back, saying that he’s been getting photographs and letters about me from my parents.
But the catch still being that he’s dead.
I can’t go back to that house.
Couldn’t he have left some inheritance in the normal way?
Why do I have to go back there?
Some part of me knows why.
He just wants me to suffer further.
He knows that going back to the place which reeks of death and is filled with my mother’s ghost is the best torture he can give me from beyond.
I didn’t think it was possible, but you just broke me further.
I pull up next to the familiar house and park the car.
I’m not ready for this.
Not even a little bit.
Maybe I should just drive back and forget about this.
I have incredible foster parents who raised me and gave me a home when my own birth parents were incapable.
I feel like I’m betraying them by even obeying the man who left the second he got the chance.
But I need to know.
I get out, the package I received in my hands.
After I get my inheritance, I plan to peruse these letters.
And what better place to do it than the house where it all began?
Thankfully, the house has remained unoccupied since we left.
I guess ‘a woman died in here’ doesn’t have a ring to it.
Opening the door, I’m immediately engulfed in the stench of death.
You would think that it would go away after these years.
But it smells just like all those years ago, when I found Mom hanging from the ceiling fan, her eyes rolling back and her body blue, matching the scarf she used to do it.
I push the windows open, trying to get rid of the reeking odour.
Going up the rickety stairs, I’m hit again by the realization that I’m so unprepared for whatever is to come.
What could he have possibly left for me, the daughter he was too chicken to reach out to?
I go to his old room, its walls stripped bare, although I can’t remember if there was anything on the walls in the first place.
Getting on my knees, I start feeling around for the loose floorboard he mentioned in his letter, and when my fingers find it, my heartbeat immediately multiplies.
I don’t know when I got up and sat on the bed, tears flowing down my face.
Why am I crying for this man?
He did nothing for me.
But he is – was my father.
And I wish I’d known him.
Actually known him.
I wish I’d had the chance to talk to him in person.
But he still wanted to reach out.
Maybe I should let him.
I remove the floorboard, and as promised, a box coated with dust comes in view.
I pull it out and keep the box and the package I received in the morning on the bed.
Opening the box which apparently contains my inheritance, I’m hit again by the maddeningly familiar scent.
Looking through it, I find a necklace with an emerald in the centre which looks pretty legit.
Emerald is my birthstone.
A few feathers, pebbles and rare coins litter the bottom of the box.
I find photographs of me, my mother and my father a few days after I was born.
A letter with details of a mansion that he passes on to me, and a fund that he has been maintaining since he left.
Maybe it’s the dust, maybe the perfume that I now am sure that he used to wear, but I start tearing up again.
I hold the photograph of our short-lived happy family moment close to my heart.
I begin to take out the letters which I had received in the morning, opening the first one and making a mental note to call that lawyer.
A sad smile plays on my lips as I read the first letter my mother had written back to him, attaching a picture of me.
Even though he left, he always made sure that I was taken care of.
He did leave, and I didn’t know when I could ever let go of that.
But right now, at this very moment, I feel something for my father.
And that is enough.
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Sorry for bursting your notifications, but honestly, I loved all of your recent stories! So, this one is absolutely no different!
Thank you for bursting my notifications, I absolutely love getting them! Thank you for reading!
Hehe, again, I'm really sorry. :I But, it was worth it!
No need to apologise, you're making me happy :D
HOW DO YOU HAVE ZERO COMMENTS? You deserve moree!! This was a sad, compelling story. Beautifully written! Your writing flows like a river! I cannot wait to read more! The ending had me 😭. Absolutely perfect. Loved it!
Thank you so much! I probably have zero comments 'cause I literally posted it just a few hours back :D Thank you for such a sweet comment, it really means a lot to me! I would love to know your thoughts on my other stories, I would suggest reading 'My One', 'Finally', 'A Good Day' and 'Unexpected Love'. Thanks once again!
Thank you for the recommendations! I will totally check them out!
Appreciate it! Also, could you fill the form in my bio, it would really help me in my future works!
Amazing Job, Mania! I really loved how this story flowed. It was really heart-wrenching to read. I really liked how you illustrated everything and connected it through memories. Good luck in the competition!
Thank you so much for reading it, I'm glad you liked it!
Also, could you please fill the form in my bio, it would really help in my future works!
I'm not sure tbh. It's a little bit more personal than I'd like. I'm happy to answer some questions one-on-one in a chat but I'm not sure about all those questions and I'd like to know that my answers are not recorded somewhere.
I've created this form on my own for the sole purpose of being more inclusive of diverse characters in my stories/novels. These answers will not be recorded or shared in any way, they will just be used as reference for my future research. If you still don't feel comfortable doing it, then you don't need to, I respect that.
Hmm...I will consider it. Thank you for your understanding and empathy to my point of view.
Wow, this was sweet-and sad-(MADE ME CRY). I have nothing to say, as always it's unique and beautiful. It flowed like a shallow stream along with bits of smooth pebbles that are memories.
Aww thank you, I'm so glad you liked it!
I always do!
AAAAAAAA NOOO I’m pretty sure I almost flooded my house, this is so well written and the emotion is beautiful! Well done!
Thank you so much, I'm so glad that you liked it, it means a lot to me! I would love to know your thoughts on the stories I've put in my bio, especially 'My One' and 'Unexpected Love' :)
Ok sure, I’ll check them out!
Ok sure, I’ll check them out!
Nicely written. Good story.
Thank you so much, appreciate it!
I like your writing style, not too wordy but you are able to convey emotions.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!
This is a good story, Mania! I found the father to be a bit weird in the things he did during the story (or I guess, what he documented). I don't know from experience, but he seemed a little too familiar even though Jasmine didn't ever know him. I haven't read your other stories, so I don't know if this is unique to this one or not, but aside from the letter you give each new sentence it's own paragraph. That could give the tone a jerky and sudden atmosphere, something that's useful for capturing Jasmine's emotions, but it doesn't make as mu...
I get what you're saying. I didn't even think of it that way until you pointed it out! Thank you for reading the story and leaving a comment, I appreciate it! I guess you could check out a few of my previous stories like 'My One', 'Finally' and 'An Unexpected Series of Events', I would love to know your opinion and thoughts on them. And also, could you please fill the form in my bio?
Great Story!!!!!!!!! As a child of an absentee father, the letter made me mad. I think it was a good addition to your story! It brought out feelings from your readers (me if not anyone else) and you totally nailed it!!!! Great job!!
I'm glad that it resonated in some way with you! Thank you for reading the story!
Tear-jerking. One finds themselves unable to contains their emotions when met with this writing.
Aww thank you! It really means a lot to me! Could you please fill the form in my bio?
I would say a good attempt, I liked your efforts for the story. I loved the emotional plotline of the story and Jasmine's change for her father. Keep writing. Even I would love your feedback on my stories.
Thank you for reading and leaving a comment! Really appreciate it! Will check out your stories as soon as possible!
Could you please fill the form in my bio, it would be of great help to me :)