Home > Flash Fiction, Writing > Flash fiction: I saw my father today

Flash fiction: I saw my father today

I saw my father today. Though two years in the grave, he stared back at me from the mirror as I went through the motions of shaving the stubble from my face. And I wonder if he ever felt as I do today … tired, worn out, hopeless. I lay down my razor, lean forward, and hold myself up on the edge of the counter. I push the lift rod and watch the shaving cream, water, and tiny pieces of beard circle around the sink, eventually winking out of existence down the drain. I pause, wondering if I should even bother to look up, or whether it would be best to simply turn and leave and go about the day, as if nothing has happened.

He’s still there, standing just as I am. Though I’m thirty years younger than he was when he died, my reflection has taken on the years, the myriad lines of age reflecting back at me. I look as old as I feel, and I’m weary. I should leave, but I don’t. We stare at each other, the father and the son. One and the same. Despite every intention, every attempt at making myself something he was not, I am him. I have nothing but questions.

“Why?” I ask.

He looks at me quizzically, puzzled by my simple question. He runs his age spot wrinkled hand through his thinning hair; I notice my hand going through the same motion, though I feel my own hair, still thick and vibrant, not yet having succumbed to the decades to come.

“Why didn’t you tell us, dad? We know nothing. You just left.”

My throat aches as I push the words through my mouth.

He looks away, and I see his face begin to age. What’s left of his hair recedes, brows grow curly and gray, silver stubble adorns his chin. He thins, his features becoming gaunt, like that of the sick and feeble, and he hunches over. His eyes have become sunken and cloudy.

“I don’t know, son. I don’t know. I just thought I’d have more … time.”

I watch my father’s hand rise until, when it’s level with his shoulder, it appears to touch the mirror from the other side. I gaze at the reflection, until finally, I reach out and touch the elderly hand upon the glass. I feel the warmth of his finger tips spread throughout my body, and it’s then I finally grasp the unraveling of his soul, the depth of his pain, his isolation, confusion, and disbelief that life was coming to an end. A small tear forms at the edge of my father’s right eye, eventually sliding down his cheek, until it drips from his face and lands on a counter top somewhere in another world.

“I understand, now,” I whisper.

He smiles, as if relieved. “Love you, son.”

“I love you, too, dad.”

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  1. January 17, 2014 at 11:33 am

    This is such a profound story. I love the imagery and symbolism, as well as the dialogue at the end. As someone with a literary blog, I think you have a true gift when it comes to writing.

    • January 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Courtney. They mean a lot, and I appreciate that you took the time to read *and* comment on my story.

  2. January 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Very strong writing, Dave. You captured a very special feeling here.

    • January 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Appreciate the comment, and I’m glad you liked it. It’s always nice when someone takes the time to let you know what they think.

  3. January 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Oh Dave, this is beautiful. I’m being completely honest when I say that I had chills while reading this…very moving.

    • January 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you so much for your comments, Jill. They mean a lot. Affecting someone with a story is a very special feeling.

  4. January 18, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Nice work, Dave.

    • January 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks, Eric! Appreciate it,

  5. January 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Nice. At first, I thought that perhaps it was simply a matter of the man looking into the mirror and seeing his own resemblance to his dad. It took me a while to realize there was more going on.

  6. January 19, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks, Jeff … Glad you enjoyed the story.

  7. February 1, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Poignant – a wonderful synchronicity of father and son meeting in a spot beyond time. Messages pass – relief given and received. And as you say, so many questions.

  8. March 1, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Wow, you have really grown as a writer even in the short time since your last flash fiction piece. I really love the juxtaposition of father and son, staring at one another in the mirror, even while, as the reader, you wonder if the reflections are two different people or one and the same.

    Lovely job!

    • March 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Thank you, Hannah … I’m glad you liked it. It was one of those more personal pieces that seemed to write itself.

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