Wednesday, March 02, 2005

family reunion

"He doesn't even look like me." It began only a few weeks after Ryan was born.
"He's just a baby, Patrick. He hasn't grown hair yet, and his face will change as he gets older. You'll see." Ellen didn't realize that a pattern was emerging. She was a new mother, who had been waiting for her son to be born for so long. A mother's hope can blind her to even the worst things set into motion. "Besides, I think he has your eyes."
Patrick looked over his son, and failed to see the resemblance, but the issue would lie dormant for a few years. He held his tongue and turned his attention back toward the television screen.

"I don't get him, we have nothing in common!"
Ellen swiftly shut the door and stepped near enough to Patrick that he would hear her lowered voice, but far enough that he wouldn't accidentally strike her as he flailed around the room. "Please, keep your voice down... he'll hear you." She tried not to cry, knowing that it would make Patrick even more upset; he wasn't a fan of feeling guilty.
Patrick had a talent for speaking his mind when drunk. This had been a popular topic over the last few months, and his drinking had been escalating. "He's not even mine, is he?! You were sleeping around on me, I fucking know it!"
The tone of her response wasn't defiant; it was more pleading. "No, I never..."
"Don't lie, you fucking whore!"
Fearing for Ryan's emotional health, but feeling trapped and not knowing what to do, Ellen approached her husband to try to soothe him. "I swear, Patrick, you were the only one..."
He struck her as she came into range.
Ryan sat silently in the next room. He was turning six in a week, and it was only in moments like this that he didn't wonder what his present would be.

The next few months were difficult on everyone. Patrick had never hit his wife before that night, and although she forgave him, he couldn't forgive himself. His drinking accelerated, and because he didn't trust himself to be around the house while drunk, he would stay out for days at a time.
The name 'Ryan' hardly ever crossed Patrick's lips. Favored names were 'him' and 'the boy'. Sometimes, when Ellen would call to find out where he was, he'd use the name 'stranger'.
Eventually, Patrick simply never came home.

Over twenty years had gone by since Ryan had last seen his father, but a wealthy relative had recently died, and they'd both be at the funeral. Neither wanted to see the other, but both would attend; money was involved.
To Patrick's amazement, his son didn't seem so different than him anymore. "It's been a long time. You look good."
"Thanks." Ryan despised his father, but so deeply desired his affection that he found himself forgiving him.
"So, I hear that you have a boy now. How is he?"
Ryan's voice quivered slightly as he replied, "I don't know, I haven't seen him in a while."
For the first time, Patrick smiled fondly at his son; they now had something in common.