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Like if we shared any of the same interests I could tell him how I recently learned that Kubrick in his younger days used to wander around New York City and play chess in parks

Fiction | Flash Fiction
March 12, 2021

Dad was sitting at his desk reading one of his three daily Chinese newspapers when I walked up to him and said

Dad, there’s something we should talk about

(Because I thought it would be nice if he and I talked about something/anything meaningful before I left)

He put down his newspaper and said 

Of course, any time you want to reveal something about this mysterious life of yours halfway across the country I am eager to hear it

How eager are you really? I thought, already a little piqued

So instead I said

I’m not trying to be mysterious, Dad, my life is pretty simple

Dad said 

Well that’s nothing to be ashamed of, our ancestors dreamed of living a simple life free of tyranny and disease, in fact just the other day I was reading how the first emperor—

Dad, I interrupted

Right sorry he said, though I wondered if he meant he was sorry that he had to stop talking

I thought Maybe to make it easier I can just tell him something meaningful that isn’t too meaningful

Like if we shared any of the same interests I could tell him how I recently learned that Kubrick in his younger days used to wander around New York City and play chess in parks, he got so good at it that he would often play for money and use his winnings to pay for meals and the rest of the time he would go to every film screening at the MoMA (which in those days the MoMA film library was so small that he claimed to have seen the entire catalog twice)  

And upon hearing this Fictional Dad-with-same-interests-and-appreciation-for-auteur-theory would say That’s amazing, Derek

And then we’d share a good chuckle at Kubrick the freewheeling flaneur

But as I was chuckling along with Fictional Dad I remembered that Real Dad only cares about politics and history so instead I said

Who do you think is going to win the election?

And Dad said 

Well Party 1 is going to squabble and nice their way to another crushing defeat while those feckless Party 2 members continue to prostrate themselves to their supreme leader who keeps failing her way to success

And I said 

Nice, Dad, real nuanced

And he said 

Is this actually what you wanted to talk about?

And I said 

No not exactly 

And I thought What I want to talk about is that I think things are getting serious with me and Amy but I know you don’t approve of her and I’m worried about how it might be making you and me even more estranged than we already are and I wish I could talk it through with you like a normal person or like sons and fathers in the movies but I have no idea how— 

So instead I said

How are you doing, Dad?  I mean really

He immediately started looking a little spacey and busied himself with shuffling the papers on his desk until finally he said
              I’m great, Son

And I said 

Well how are things with you and Mom?

And he said 

They’re good enough

And I said 

What can we do to make them better?

And he said 

Derek, there comes a time in life when a man understands that there’s nothing more he can do for his marriage

And I said 

That sounds pretty fatalistic, Dad

And he quickly said 

I didn’t mean it in a negative way I just meant that your mother and I have both figured out how to live with who we are at least enough to the point where we’re not cheating on each other or taking it out on the kids

Then he looked at me suspiciously and said 

Does it feel like we’re taking something out on you?

And I said

No, Dad, everything feels fine

Ok good he said, clearly relieved

But I also thought It feels a little too fine like the two of you don’t talk to each other at all anymore

But then he said 

Well what about you?  What’s going on in your life?

And I said 

Not much 

And he said 

Do you need money?

And I said 

No I don’t need money

And he said 

Do you like your job?

And I said 

I like it enough

And he said 

Ok great

And I thought Ok it’s not gonna happen this time either

So I said 

Good talk, Dad, see you next Christmas

And he said 

Good talk, Son, take care