Home Poetry On a Hug…

On a Hug…

by Stephanie Alfaia

Brown sediments inhaled the crisp air. Overwhelmed with roots, they moved slowly following the breeze’s symphony. They pushed against these roots – an argument between providing nutritious support, or expelling the invasion that kept them hidden from the sun’s rays. The roots grew tall, stretching with dawn. They apologized, yet the apology seemed meaningless to the supportive ground beneath them. Expanding and stretching, the grass released from the root’s hold. Engaging the sun, the grass smiled and greeted the new day. Freshly cut, though the pain was unbearable, the grass felt rejuvenated, as if they now had more room to grow. Swaying, dancing, breathing in the air, the grass was happy despite the complaint below. A black round shadow was approaching. Visible through proximity, it was now spotted; black and white. Velocity was it’s fuel, The black-white grew closer, faster, scarier. Round and round, spinning, destroying everything in its path. The great black-white to the ant observer was approaching, rolling, demolishing. “Over here!” he screamed. “I’m open!”

The home team was winning, one-nothing. They kicked, screamed, roared over the small black and white soccer ball. There was a monstrous air of anxiety over the spectators. Mainly young women, mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters. Scattered about were the retired few men who, with sport injuries, could no longer join. Three little boys played with the ground, torturing the ants who fled the great soccer ball. They surely heard the ball rolling from a hundred yards away. Survival of the fittest. Some women seemed to enjoy the friendly, others cursed every second of being there. Little Edie stared at the ball, floating from one side of the field to the other. She didn’t blink, full of fear of missing a single moment. Her father promised her three goals. The first one, already scored, was hers, but during the celebratory hug, she had him promise two more. “One for mommy, and one for my sister,” she said. “They are special too!” He smiled at her willingness to include the others. “I promise baby,” he replied. “Anything you ask.”
That was the last childhood memory Edie had of her father. He was very much alive and well, but years of disappointment yielded a black shadow. Her memories were long faded, long hidden in some part of her sub conscience. She made no effort to remember – he was no longer her soccer hero. She grew to learn that children hold on to the happy moments, moments filled with color, with description, with words, that seem far more fantastical than they truly are. Looking back at her 8-year-old memory, she realized it wasn’t all that special. It was nothing more than a friendly game, three-nothing. The last promise he kept.

Robert was consistent for most of Edie’s childhood, celebrating every birthday as he should, park adventures as she asked, McDonald’s meals when she cried. But as the years went by, whether it was time, money, work, or another lover, they slowly grew apart. His marriage to Gabrielle did not work. He was not fit to be the man she thought she deserved. The man she knew she deserved. Nevertheless, his greatest mistake was not the separation with his estranged wife, but his eminent separation from his children. Through Edie’s adolescent years, Robert figured school vacation was enough for father-daughter visiting trips. Little did he know he was absent from his daughter’s most important years. Now a young adult, Edie no longer required her father’s presence.

The phone rang, she answered. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” he urged. “Yes, after work,” she solemnly replied. Sitting at her desk, panic began to creep over her always-composed mind. How in the world am I supposed to be excited? It’s been two years! Or is it three? Has it really been that long? Great, I’m being dramatic again, I’m acting like him. Does he think he can simply come right back into my life and everything will be the same? Is he insane? He must be. I’m not ready for this. I can’t be ready for this. I am not ready to forgive. I can’t forgive. Not him, not now. Not ever? Just stay where you are. We don’t need you now. I don’t need you now. I’ve been perfectly fine without you. Perfectly sane. Perfectly… imperfect. You don’t understand. You’ll never understand. You can’t make it up. Flowers won’t do. Don’t you dare show up with yellow flowers. I will destroy them in your face. Do I hug him? Do I smile? Should I be angry? I can’t lose it. I can’t feel. I’d done so well without feelings. I’ve been so strong. I’ve been so composed. When was the last time I cried? Ah, October 4th, 2012. No, I can’t think about that right now. She wouldn’t approve. She wouldn’t even approve of me seeing him. I wonder what she’s thinking. Dead folks don’t think, Edie. Dead? Why would you think that way? God, I’m losing it. He hasn’t even arrived, and I’m losing it. I can’t possibly survive fifteen days. No, I’ll make myself busy. Yes, that’s it. Busy everyday. I have work, I have friends, I have… no. That won’t work. He’ll certainly find his way and infiltrate himself in my life….

Edie spent most of the morning thinking, over thinking, wondering, pondering, imagining. She pictured the first moment she would lay eyes on him. She couldn’t recall how tall he was, but she imagined him to be around six feet and six-four. He was always a very lean skinny man, she was sure he would look the same. His happy hazel eyes would embrace her, and in his mind that mere moment of seeing his daughter would make up for lost time. Edie saw his dark hair sprinkled with white, always cut short, although his hair was shoulder length to match hers, when she was four. His smile, always radiant, always filling… he wouldn’t say much, he would certainly chuckle. The nervous chuckle they shared. Some people cry during angry moments, some scream, some don’t utter a single sound; they chuckled, and at times giggled, and even more – laughed. “The nervous laugh,” she would explain. “I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t help it.” Edie let her mind linger on the laugh, suddenly her memory sparked. She recalled a series of momentary “nervous laughs” they shared. And she caught herself smiling. No, stop it. You can’t give in. He’s expecting you to give in. She realized she wouldn’t be able to hug him. She would stare dumbfounded, maybe even a dumbfounded smile, but certainly immobile. She saw herself standing in the middle of the airport arrival hall, feet planted to the ground, like the ant watching the dark black-white shadow making its way to demolish her composure. No, she was certainly not ready. Thank god I don’t have to pick him up. Edie saw his arms reach for her. His smile, the biggest smile she could remember. His eyes, tearing. Of course he’s going to cry. So dramatic. His hug – finally, embracing, supporting. She wondered how a single moment of support, of the physical epitome of support – a hug, can change so much. How the fear of that moment was intoxicating, exasperating, and maybe even a little nauseating. She imagined standing there, anywhere, in his arms.

She saw herself as the little girl with a poorly tied ponytail, Gap jeans, and a t-shirt that surely should have been worn by the opposite sex, hugging her “Daddy.” Edie felt the warmth radiating from his skin, his paternal warmth. The electricity between her arms and her father’s back. The energy between each squeeze, and the interval where nothing happened. The moment she waited for all her life. The hugs she craved in boys her age. The honesty in that moment. The moment in that hour, in that day. The imbalance it would create in her universe, in her world. The ground supported the roots. She had stretched, grown, evolved, from an unfounded root. No ground beneath her, no support. Yet, there she was, full grown – completely developed. Yearning for balance, subconsciously crying for her own brown sediments. She wanted nothing more than to be surrounded, surrounded by care, by nurture, by vitality. Edie realized she wanted to feel, she was ready to feel. To allow herself to be flooded by emotion.

She concluded that living as a numb outer wall was extremely exhausting. Spending all those years, all that time, hiding. Hiding behind what she really felt, by convincing herself she felt no more. She was eager, eager to make up all the feelings she missed out on. What is life without emotion? She thought. Have I fully lived? Have I fully experienced? No longer did she feel the need to hide. The mere idea of his presence was enough. Possibility has power, for it is coated with hope. Hope is unstoppable, it lives dormant, quietly waiting for the right moment to emerge. And when it does, it alters realities, it enhances lives, pushes, it requests actions, it creates. That moment was crucial. Hope was preparing itself for the final blow. The final touch, the final moment that would turn into something far more lasting that the minuscule momentary second of hope. I am ready. I want this. I need this. I am ready to smile. I am ready to feel again. I am old enough to see truth, to understand truth. I want truth. It’s time we spoke, one adult to the other. I need to stop looking for someone to blame. I need to move past his mistakes. He didn’t leave you. He is human, leaving was his escape. From what? Me? No, stop it. We are making progress here. We will figure this out. Hug him, then ask him… Why?

© 2013 Stephanie Alfaia Gomes All Rights Reserved

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