Flowers from Daddy

Tyler Miles

“Do it, baby,” he said with a wink. “This one here.”

I tried winking back. Slyly—at least, I thought so—my eyes wandered the alley: a rotten mattress and ripped garbage bags outside of overgrown yards like thin, dead forests, and beat-up garages smeared with blood-red graffiti.  

The house surrounded by the gate loomed dark and stern, its candled windows like eyes warning us away, but I concentrated hard.

Blackness.

 

Suddenly I was inside the kitchen. A small black ghost. Everything was milky blue and distorted, like when someone bumps the antenna on daddy’s TV. I didn’t care too much for the sight anymore—blue was a pretty color sometimes, but I was bored of it.

 

Nobody here.

 

I pushed the sight beyond the only doorway I saw into a living room with creased, torn wallpaper that made the golden flowers appear like they grew from the wall.

 

There was a wrinkled old white lady sleeping on a recliner that looked just like daddy’s. Her toothless mouth was an immense black hole as she laid there the way mummies did in my school books when explorers raided their tombs...right before the mummies woke up and ate them!

 

She was all alone. I opened my eyes to daddy’s own. They were soft and gleaming. His mustache curled up in the funny way it did when he smiled. 

 

“Only an old lady, but she sleep,” I told him. 

 

It was easy for him to hop over the fence with those long legs. When I drew pictures of him I would cut his head off the paper to show how tall he was. He always laughed when I showed them to him and said “Now nobody gon’ know how handsome yo daddy is.”

 

The streetlight above was busted, so it flickered orange. Little snowflake moths swarmed it anyway. I wasn’t afraid here, though—can’t nobody whoop my daddy. Besides, everyone loved him and waved when they’d see him in his big car. Ma said that’s why he never wants to work: he wants to be “Mr. Cool Man all the time.”

He hopped back over the fence with the most beautiful rainbow flowers I ever saw. I sniffed them the whole walk home. I loved it when he got me flowers, especially stolen flowers. It showed how much he loved me.

 

I hope he doesn’t change tonight. 

 

He’d do that sometimes.

 

He sometimes left home and returned different. He’d smell different, refused to look when you spoke, and sometimes he’d even drool. I had to stay in my room when he was like that. One time he sold flowers he stole for me to a man outside of the beer store, and when Ma found out she put him on the porch and locked the door. He fussed and hollered for hours.

 

She said his whole family was cursed because they were owned by Portuguese slavers in Louisiana who taught them witchcraft, and that they continued to practice that and that cursed us all. Cursed me.

 

I wish I could use my vision to help, because I don’t care about seeing inside stupid houses anymore. 

 

I just want to see inside my dad and find out what’s wrong.

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