The End of the Feud

It wasn’t like I cared.

When the call came, my heart lurched as old resentments toppled over the floodgates, demanding my attention. After all these years, I had thought I was free of them, free from the tyranny of his touch. Out of reach, living my own life.

What I had wished for all those years ago was now imminent. Yet I felt no relief. Come home, my mother had requested. Only for you, I had responded. Not for him, my thoughts protested.

The drive, punctuated by my recollections, went by without my conscious intent. Memories careened around me quicker than the small valley towns I passed, as I made my way north on Highway 99. I don’t remember Fresno, my mind awash in thoughts best left behind. The cold penetrated my reverie, unassailed by the heater in my car, as I peered into the low-riding winter tule fog of a California’s central valley winter. I felt encapsulated by the landscape, the car, my memories, much as I had felt in his presence as a child.

The hospital was stark, the hour late. I always hate that antiseptic smell as if any potion could keep at bay the germs of life. One could die in a hospital. It wasn’t a reservation for life. My shoes tap tapping on the bare linoleum floor, the harsh fluorescent lighting overhead, the desolate waiting room, all of it a reminder of the cruelty of his hands.

Even his dying words were no redemption; his path was marked for hell.