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How to be a Dad by Catherine Adams

Flash Fiction Semi-Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020

How to be a Dad by Catherine Adams

How to be a Dad by Catherine Adams

When I was an impressionable wee brat, Dad told me never to be brave in front of him. He meant I should talk to him if I was getting involved in drugs or some other malarky, because at the time it was right trendy to get high off huffing laughing gas, but I went to him for everything from girls to grades.

Years later, once the cancer had almost eaten him up from the inside out, we went walking in the Cairngorms and got caught in a storm. We took shelter in a bothy and he leant his head against the wall, listening to the pouring rain.

I said to him, Dad you don’t have to be brave in front of me, and his face crumpled like an empty pack of cigarettes. He said, being a dad doesn’t work that way, Jamie, and I rebutted that with how things were, he might let go of any preconceived notions he had about the way things worked, if he caught my drift.

He did, and after that he let his guard down - told me how fucking awful cancer felt, and how scared he was of dying and the worst part about it all, really, was that he wasn’t going to live to be around for me when I needed him - like dads should be for sons.

The rawness of his admission made me think he’d been right and he should have protected me from that kind of truth. I wanted to block it out like the muffled sound of rain on the tin roof, but I listened in same way he’d done for me.

As until the rain slowed, he got to his feet, stuck his head outside. “Shall we brave it?” he suggested and I said, yeah Dad, I’m with you.



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