Swimming with Dad
Swimming with Dad being an adult stories
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johnpoe
johnpoeI like stories.
Autoplay OFF  •  a year ago
The water is impossibly cold - but you had to pull me in anyway, I know.

Swimming with Dad

Leaving home was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Facing the world on my own, the cold and indifferent world, it's like diving into a December pool.

My instincts and I scream in rejection - this is stupid, it hurts - but the tingle crawling over my surface is electric.

It sparks my heart to beat with purpose and my mind sharpens to a hard edge. Yes. It hurts. Yes. This is stupid. But this stress, this challenge - this is what I was born for.

I'm stronger in the water than I was at the edge. You knew that. That's why you pulled me in, screaming, by the ankle.

Comfort hurts worse than any injury, no matter how powerful the craving for softness is. A night coiled in static-y blankets, glowing in the light of escape - it's bliss, but it's a trap.

An angler's lure which hooks and tears invisibly at man's courage. You taught me that. You taught me to throw you away in the end; the you that I used to know.

Protector, provider - soother of injury to my bloody knees and bloodier ego.

You kissed at my burning fingertips and swollen bruises less and less but your eyes never hardened. You wanted to save me each time, but you held yourself back so I could struggle.

Is that what it's like to truly love someone? To want to help them but to let them fail? I know that's what you believe, even though you never said so. I think sometimes that you were wrong.

Sometimes I needed a bit more help. But you were right sometimes too.

Did it have to be your secret? Your guiding presence in my blind spot - playing your supporting role or remaining in the wings was no more powerful because you kept silent.

Did you imagine it was? Or did you even realize what you were doing? Did your father ever talk about these things? Your mother? My Mother? Did you use your instincts? Think it through?

Follow a condescending guide from the back shelf at Half-Price? If I asked I'm sure you wouldn't know either. All of it, or none. It doesn't matter.

I wish we had talked more, but I suppose we didn't have to.

We won't talk more now, I know. Because in the icy water of that December pool I can't hear your voice.

And when I surface to breathe, you will spare me only a few words - encourage me to hold my breath.

But hidden (badly) at the edge of your expression is the need to dry me in a scratchy towel and hold me close. Because you know how cold it is - you've been swimming for a long time.

Don't worry. When the water has wrinkled your skin and you need to get out, I will help you, dry your skinny and shivering limbs.

The day will come when you don't need to be strong, when it will be fine to wrap in warmth and fall apart.

When that day comes, I hope we can share the towel for a little while before I have to dive back in.

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