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Decisions to be made.
"The last time I listened to you," I replied, "I remember we sat in this very table and you meddled in my life. Because you were my mother, I listened to you, and I blindly ignored my instincts and went ahead with your plan." I took a drink from my own mug as my father looked at me, "what did listening to you get me?"
"I'm sorry," she said, "I just thought..."
"No," I interrupted, "if you had thought about me for a second, for one tiny fraction of a second, you never would've done such a good job at convincing me to take up that whore as a wife. It would've saved me a whole lot of heartache. But all you thought about, like always, is about what you want, mother. So, why am I here?"
"You need to help your brother," she replied, "he's your blood."
"Just how am I going to help him? Better yet, why would I want to? I have been gone for years; tell me, how many times did I call you asking for anything?" I looked at both of my parents, my mother had the decency to lower her head.
"You should at least go and see him," my father replied, "he has been torturing himself for what he did to you. All he needs is your forgiveness."
"So you're telling me that I should lie to him?" I looked at my father, this was the first time he had ever asked me to do anything, "and I should look him in the eye and tell him that I forgive him when I truly will never do?"
"Yes," my father replied, "we all know he's not going to make it out of there alive. Let him go in there carrying one less burden. You've always been the stronger of all my sons, I know that you will do what is right at the end of the day. But if this is something you can't do, no one would blame you." He looked at my mother as he repeated himself, "no one."
"When are visiting hours?" I took a plate and began filing it with the food, "and I'll need your truck."
"That's fine," my father said, "I'll go with you, I need to see him as well."
"They only allow two visitors at a time," my mother replied.
"You're staying here," my father replied, "this is our business, you have nothing to do with it." My mother walked out of the kitchen with clear annoyance and anger, my father had never spoken to her in that manner in front of me.
"That was a first," I replied, "what's going on with you two?"
"We'll talk about that later, son. Enjoy your breakfast, tell me what you have been up to these past years. You have aged a lot, that much is clear." I gave him a brief history of what had happened in the past years, avoiding specifics but trying my best to convey the message of all I had lived through. "That's quite a story," he said as we moved outside the house, "I knew you were always too stubborn to die. Glad you're here, son."
"Thanks, pops," I replied, "I know you really mean it. So what's really going on here?"
"If I were to tell you I know how you feel about Ann," he took a long drag from his cigarette, "I would be telling you the truth, son. But if you were to tell me that you knew how I felt, I would be forced to call you a liar."
"What are you talking about?"
"When Ann left," he started, "I wondered why your mother was going to such lengths to defend her, to try to get you two to stay together. When Ann finally told her she was pregnant with someone else's child, your mother did not even bat an eye at that." My father looked me in the eyes, for the first time in my whole life I saw what so many people said when they looked in my own eyes. I saw the emptiness behind those brown shades, the stare that goes beyond comprehension. Eyes that have seen too much and are too weary to cry anymore.
"When?" I grabbed a second cigarette, offering him one of mine which he took.
"I found out when Ann left," he said, "your oldest brother is not my son.