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By Gale Acuff
Now that Father’s dead, where is he? I mean
besides underground in his coffin? He
can’t be dead, not truly dead, not dead like
that. The only way to see him is to die
myself, I know, and even then we might
not meet, even though we’d be closer than
brothers, off in the darkness, our eyes closed
for good measure. It’s a lot like sleeping
but you never wake. If we’re together
that might not be so bad. But I don’t know.
But we wouldn’t be any farther from
each other than we are now. People say
I look like him. I am Junior to his
Senior. Mother leads me into his room.
His eyes are closed. I’ll leave you two alone,
she says. Say goodbye to your father. She
leaves but I know that I’ll see her again
right outside the room. Father, I say, how
are you feeling? He opens his eyes, just,
or they open anyway. Fine, son, fine,
he says, thinking that he’s looking at me.
And you? I start to cry. No point to that,
he says. I don’t want you to die, I say.
Well, I can’t just stay here, he says. Not like this.
He tries to laugh. I know, I say, but please
don’t leave me now. Now or later, he says,
makes no difference in Eternity.
And then I die, but it’s really Father,
or maybe not. Maybe something’s been born.
I turn to find Mother in the doorway.
I’m sorry, son, she says. Now it’s just us.
Or just you, I say. She closes her eyes.