It was a lovely August day, and the house was open. Through the kitchen window, I could hear the voices outside where Dad was talking to a neighbor. Dad was 83, but he sounded 20, self-assured and energetic in his conversation. No fumbling for words or any other signs that he was making it up as he went along.
Then he came in and asked me where the bathroom was. He’d lived in that house for over 50 years.
The Black Thing filled the doorway on his way to the bathroom; Dad walked through it. It was always in a doorway, a wanton living sentient void, to remind me there was no way out. There was no food that didn’t taste like the blackness, no sunshine that wasn’t tainted by it, no voice that wasn’t hollowed by it. Its very silence was discordant.
I made dinner earlier to get food in dad before the Black Thing took him. It curled Dad over his dinner plate, forced him to strip his bed and stuff the pillows in his desk, forced him to dig tablecloths out of the old buffet and arrange them, bedlike, on the dining room floor, forced him to walk and walk and walk and walk. Night after night after night.
It covered Dad’s eyes with nightmares so Dad wouldn’t know where he was, wouldn’t know me, wouldn’t know himself. Walking, walking, driven by the Black Thing. Dad’s face wore the dying. Walking, walking, frail, frightened, angry.
When the anguished nights gave way to exhausted day, the Black Thing resumed its vigil in doorways. Like a bat to a cave. Goading me. Dad knew nothing of the nights, of the faceless thing that made even the humanity of tears impossible.
Submitted to Dan Antion’s
Thursday Doors Writing Challenge
with thanks to him for hosting,
and with thanks to Teagan R. Geneviene for the photo.