“So what happens…” I recall asking him, “If I can’t?”
“Do you remember your brother?” he’d responded, the weariness he’s been fighting all day creeping back into his face.
As he’d gotten older, my father had begun talking about another son… and without my mother around anymore I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Sometimes I played along, but since he was already talking about monsters and swords and shields, I figured this was not one of those times.
“Dad, I didn’t have…”
“No,” he interrupted me, “I guess you wouldn’t. That’s what happens boy,” he answered, the pain of losing this imaginary child raw in his eyes, “They take them son… and you alone live with the memory…”
- - - - - - -
I had the thing pinned beneath my foot, my daughter standing gape jawed in the doorway had just dropped her water on the carpet. Great, Mily’s going to thing I was rough housing with Ana again…
“Honey,” I repeated, pinning one of its reaching claws with the bat instead of clubbing it, so as not to alarm my daughter, “please brush your teeth again, and I’ll read you a story,” just like that the spell was lifted. I could feel it recoil beneath my shoe, and Ana was beaming.
“Okay Daddy!” she shouted, bringing a small convulsion from beneath my foot, rushing back out to the bathroom before, I hoped, the nightmare had set in.
The moment she turned to run back down the hall, I stepped back from the creature and raising the bat with both hands, spoke beneath my breath, “And so pulling the sword once more from the stone,” the bat flashed with a golden light, and I swung it full force at the shadow made solid that had been lurking beneath my daughter’s bed, “he raised it to a chorus of voices,”, piercing the monster, for the briefest of moments, I could hear my father’s voice finishing the story, “as the crowd cheered, for their new king.”