"Found these in a drawer. Thought you might want them."
Mike didn't remember his mother dropping by. It must have been while he was out. Chase seemed left energetic so she could have left the photos, noticed the poor thing whining for attention, and obliged by taking him for a walk.
Mike picked the envelope and letter up in one graceful swipe. Leaving the kitchen behind he walked into his office where he plopped down into his chair. The letter had nothing on it. No stamp, no writing. His dad had never been good at labeling things. The paper felt old in his hands. All envelopes felt smooth but there was something in the way old ones felt that gave them a particular feel. Like old jeans.
He lifted the lid and stared at the stack of photos. They could be anything, he knew. His mind raced. Old pictures of him at a soccer game. Him in high school when he was the crew chief for the school play. Graduation. College. Some job they did once, mending Ms. Griffin's fence or taking down one of Sherly's trees. Possibilities flicked through his mind. If he could predict what they were maybe it would hurt less to look at them.
Twisting his wrist, Mike held the envelope upside down. The pictures slid into his hand without resistance.
From when he moved in. He could tell right away by the floors. Only one family had lived in the house before he bought it. Not a bad deal. He had a theory that the more people who owned a house, the more layers of DIY bullshit you were likely to encounter. But the family that purchased the place in 1962 had never moved out. Two kids had passed through it. A husband that died in his sixties. And, finally, the widow, who at eighty-seven finally relinquished her grip on the place. The kids had been quick to sell. The son in particular seemed eager to move on, though on more than one occasion he seemed resistant to letting Mike work on the house at all.
Flipping through the pictures, Mike watched as the photographer moved from room to room, recording the damage. A deep gash in the floor of the second bedroom. Garish curtains in the master. The jaw-dropping plaid green wallpaper that took months to get off the office walls.
Mike dropped the pictures onto his lap, looked up. He'd painted the office gray on three walls except the last. Maroon. The colors of his alma mater. His friend had made the suggestion. Decorating was far from his forte so once he heard something that sounded simple but stylish, he jumped on it. Now, looking at the walls, he didn't know. The plaid green looked ridiculous. But the gray made the house look like a cement prison. Like living inside a cinder block. He flipped the photo, placing it at the back of the pack, and moved on.
His dad stared out of the picture. Graying mustache. Bags under his otherwise healthy looking skin. Still pink even though the pictures were taken well into the fall. "Good genes," his dad would always say, laughing a little, even though he probably had no idea what it meant. Someone had likely said it to him once and he thought it was funny and so included it in his repertoire. He had on his classic Getting-Shit-Done attire. Sleeveless t-shirt. A Harley-Davidson one, if Mike wasn't mistaken. Blue jeans. Sneakers.
Another indicator that he was old when this was taken. In his younger years he always wore boots whenever they went to do something. But as he got older, he needed the support of sneakers and quickly made the trade.
His hands are by his side and his face is set. Though, in the corner of his mouth there is the faintest glimpse of a smile. Normally he was the one who took pictures. For all the harshness he could exude, Mike knew there had always been a softness to his father. Why else would he try and capture everything on film. Sports, first cars, first and last days of school, holidays. He could see his father being a shutter bug had he grown up in a more affluent house. But he didn't, and so blue collar jobs it was until finally settling on custodian.
Mike flipped to another picture. His dad, kneeling down by the wall. The floors had been sanded and the trimming taped. Max, the family dog, lay on his side behind him, soaking in the one sunlight-touched spot on the floor. Crazy that they were both gone now. Even in the picture, they both seemed to alive. Max's body, lean and athletic stretched out on the floor, left no questions as to how quickly he could spring up and race to the window, barking like a lunatic, if anyone had the gall to so much as slam a door.
And his dad. He had always thought of his father as a "bruiser." Not that he was a fighter, or someone who spent excessive amounts of time in the gym. He was a meat and potatoes, pushups and jumping jacks kind of guy. Yet still there was a grace to how he worked. The way he rested on his haunches, his toes curled under him. Even when painting a wall there was a deftness to the strokes. As if each streak of paint mattered as much as the ones that came before and after.
Grunting, Mike tossed the photos onto his desk. What the hell was he going to do? He always knew losing a parent would be difficult. How could it not? But facing it now he couldn't help but note the gap between understanding something on an intellectual level, and experiencing it on an emotional one.
Years ago he had meant to start asking his dad more about his childhood. So different from his own, he hoped to compile a list of "Dad's stories." The wild ones from his childhood when he, seemingly on a whim, left home and moved in with a friend. Or his twenties when he lived like a vagabond, moving from place to place, shacking up with friends, relatives of friends, or the occasional girlfriend.
Had he met his own dad in high school, what would he have th
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Letter Use the letter M
Words Reach 50 words
Event Someone passes away
Location An office
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words
Words Reach 1000 words
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