NEW EDITION, 2000 word addition
First ed. – Feb 2nd, 2014
I’ve decided to take a kid in, I’ve got a good job, but all that really means to me is that my pay cheques are piling up with no one but myself to spend them on. At a certain point you find that you can actually have too much crap, so why not? Why not, right?
I completed all the paperwork, the government completed all the checks, the I’s were dotted, the T’s crossed, social workers had let themselves in and out of my home to their heart’s content and, finally, A-OK’d my application to be a foster parent. Of course it wasn’t quite that simple, but what is? I was slightly excited; I had after all put in a huge amount of effort and cash to prepare my house for the kid, (the kid? I should work on that,) for the big day to arrive. The day, and kid, did indeed arrive.
It’s a monster girl. A monster girl? I wasn’t exactly expecting that, I thought I was going to get a human kid, maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was? No, no, I’ve got this shit down pat.
Oh shit! Am I talking? Is anyone talking? Someone should definitely be talking right now. I’m not making a great first impression on the… The… What is she? The baggy hoody she’s wearing comes down to almost the knees of her little, lithe frame, I can’t even make out much of her features.
SHIT! Still haven’t said anything! I begin to stammer out something.
“I expected that! I knew that was going to happen, you lied to me miss!” That’s definitely not me talking, must be the little girl, apparently she isn’t happy.
“Nobody likes Manticores! No! Body! You said it was going to be different… I’m so stupid that I believed you, miss!”
OH FUUUUUUUCK! A manticore? What’s a fuckin’ manticore?! Jesus, do something!
So I slam to my knees as quickly as possible to get to her eye level and finally greet her; a little too quickly. She squeaks and jumps back; I just wince hard at my already bruising knees’ sharp complaint.
“Uh ha ha, I’m sorry kiddo, you were just so cute and all I lost my tongue!”
“Bullshit! And I’m not “Kiddo”, I’m Frankie!”
Yeesh. Tough crowd, and for a kid who’d be primary school aged she’s got a bit of a mouth on her. I can’t help but laugh at her prideful anger though, we could get along.
“What’s so funny mate? Y-You just stand there and stare at me, now you’re laughing? You must really… Hate
Manticores, like everyone else…” The last bit, almost too quiet to hear, hurt more than her swift kick to my knee cap. Not by a wide margin though.
Before I can form a coherent reply, the social worker that had apparently chaperoned her here had taken off the girls hood, two fluffy ears spring free, and a decidedly tomboyish, red, hair-do is brought to light. Apart from the obvious, she just looked like a pretty normal, cute, kid; her eyes seemed to have a natural tendency to glare in an unsettlingly predatory way though, a stray cat look. Then again, the slightly bold eyebrows, freckles and childish pout erased any real impression of actual caginess from her features. Adorable in other words. On the other end of the scale the social worker doesn’t look, or sound, extremely pleased; I somehow got the impression that that was business as usual however.
“Francesca! Don’t kick the man, even if he’s apparently clueless,” not getting any help from that quarter apparently, “he’s probably just surprised you’re not human, as inane a reason as that may be. Look in the stack of mail by the door.”
All three present look at the embarrassingly large amount of unopened mail. I had been meaning to look at it for a while. To her credit Frankie even waits for my nod of approval to root through my months old mail.
“Look for something from the Gov’t.”
An envelope, right near the top, is procured, Frankie thrusts it at me; guess she’s still pretty upset, can’t blame her honestly. My face goes from curious, to surprised, to really embarrassed, all in turn.
“Well sir? What does it say, make sure to let little Francesca here in on it too, would you?”
Frankie and I both glare at the social worker, for differing reasons; the letter basically says that there was a mix up and my papers were sent to the monster girl division, and since I qualified there too they just shrugged and said “fuck it” and accepted it. Typical bureaucracy. Of course I omit the 2 pages of ass covering and waivers that absolved the department of any wrong doing or liability simply for pacing purposes.
“What does that mean mate?”
Loves that tough guy act, huh?
“It means you were wrong Frankie, I don’t hate you, nor do I hate Manticores. You’re the first I’ve ever met even; I want to get to know you better, all right? So forgive me and let me introduce myself again, okay?”
“F-Fine. I’ll give you a second chance, but I’m warning you! You won’t get a third mister!” She even has the gall to grin at me as she says it. Also: Mister? That’s slightly more polite at leas-JESUS CHRIST WHAT IS THAT?!
Frankie notices my carefully composed expression and follows my gaze behind herself. She does a full circle.
“W-what? Is there a spi-spi-spider on me?!”
Arachnophobia: noted. I point out the thing on her back, lifting up the hem of her hoody. Jesus Christ, is she just going to keep going around in circles? Not that I was to begin with, but I’m not even that shocked anymore. Frankie’s gotten more and more stressed however. I take pity on the revolving Manticore and just grab it on its next round pass. She jumped just about a metre vertical and let out what could be the cutest squeak I’ve ever heard.
“D-D-D-D-DON’T JUST GRAB THAT!”
She wrenches the… Tail? Out of my grasp and looks at me with an adorably wounded expression.
“It’s a tail you idiot! H-have you never seen a tail? All Manticores have tails! There’s nothing weird about it okay?! It’s just a tail, and it’s normal!”
This girl’s had a fun life hasn’t she? My raised eyebrow to the social worker is met with the same indifference as any other time I’ve looked at her. Definitely no help from that quarter.
“Hahaha, I’m sorry Frankie, like I said, I’ve never seen a Manticore before, not hiding any more surprises are you?”
“No! Well… There’s my paws and I’ve got wings, they work too before you say something stupid! I-I’ve got ears like this too, but one’s a bit… Wrecked.”
She was right, even if she had them flat against her head I could tell the tip of the left was scarred over, it twitched a little as if conscious of my gaze. Aww.
“They’re cute, all of you is cute Frankie, from the tip of your ear to the tip of your tail.”
“T-Tip?! There’s two! Tip-SSSS! A-A-And I’m not cute!”
I get a glimpse of a face as red as her hair before she barrels into me and starts a-whomping. It’s the perfect time to press the attack and keep teasing her. That is until the social worker coughs, Frankie and I both pause, I attempting to escape a headlock.
“Well, you get on fine, and whilst you’re an idiot, you’re not a pervert. Probably. We’ll come by and check on you regularly; right now you’re getting on in a satisfactory way, and honestly I’ve wasted enough of my time here. Good day.”
Frankie sneers at the slammed door.
“What’s her problem Frankie? Can you let go of my head now too?”
“She’s just a big cow. You better be nicer, all right! Or I’ll run away, I mean it, I’ve done it before!”
The thought of dealing with a barely-school-aged runaway Manticore fills me with enough dread to take care in the future.
We do, in fact, get on fine. Her habitation started pretty smoothly, Frankie was pleased with the house, and even more so at the prospect of having her own room. After attempting to cut and hem tail and wing holes into the clothes I had bought, I had them swiftly thrown back at me in disgust at the hack job (which only slightly hurt my feelings). To “make up for it” I took her on her first spending spree. Clothes for little monstergirls run towards the expensive; apparently fashion designers have little-to-no sympathy for put upon husbands, and monstergirls needing an emergency change of clothes and as always clothes for kids are even more expensive. Frankie certainly doesn’t waste an opportunity, it’s not long before I’m a pack mule and a very happy Manticore child is eating her weight in shitty food-court food. Apparently the foster parents before me were frugal to the point of abusiveness. I can’t blame the kid, and honestly, she’s so cute I couldn’t have helped it even if I had tried to set a spending limit at all. Sure, she was a stubborn tomboy with a foul mouth and a smartass whenever she had the opportunity, but it’s not like I’m unable to give back as good as I got. Plus if I treated her with a bit of respect she’d even listen to me. Even if her anti-authority figure instincts meant she didn’t necessarily do exactly what I had asked of her. I couldn’t quite understand why the kid was churned through the system so much.
That’s how the two of us stayed for a year or so: the foster parent and the quickly growing Manticore girl. I comforted her after her first day at her new school after she had been bullied mercilessly. I stormed down to the school and yelled in her defence on the second day, after she beat all the bullies up. Not that that had happened due to my advice. That weekend I was met with a shy and embarrassed Manticore girl introducing her new friends whom had come over to play to me. I made sure the incredibly scary expression I wore for a second told the girls I definitely remembered the shit they were up to a few days beforehand and wouldn’t soon forget. I quickly brightened up to a gracious smile and provided some nourishment. I gave the one put upon and obviously dragged along boy a look of sincere sympathy. His eyes pleaded for me to save him from the not-so-metaphorical lion’s den. I looked down and my eyes said: no. He’ll toughen up a bit; no permanent harm’ll be done.
That’s how her life with me progressed; we often went out and played: rough housing, playing catch, helping her learn how to fly properly. I held her close when she had to have a dislocated shoulder popped back in, hating myself every moment for fucking up, knowing her claws digging into me were a fraction of the pain. We had fun on the first holiday she had ever been on, snorkelling on a little island, covered in pines. I comforted her when she fell out with friends, nodding sagely to her great litanies of woe, and cleaned up after her get-togethers and sleep overs. With said friends.
But after a while, years in fact, I couldn’t work up the energy to play with Frankie as much as I once had and the thin skinned thing she was took it personally, and… we drifted apart. Of course I couldn’t accept that, of course I couldn’t! So I dragged the sulky, now early teenaged, Manticore out to our favourite park and after a while we both got into it again. It was the happiest I’ve seen her in a while; she was showing off a lot more than usual with her flying. She shot up into the air, and shouting down to me, dove deep like a chased fighter pilot. I looked on in amazement, then horror: she wasn’t going to pull up in time. I knew I had to act, and I did to my credit. Crying out her name I ran towards her, arms out stretched, trying to meet her before her earthbound arc met the ground.
And I did. No “one hand, one bounce” bullshit here, a perfect catch.
35 kilos of embarrassed Manticore slammed into my stomach, rocketing me to my back from the force. We both lay there in the grass, until half from unwound adrenaline and half at her pants-shitting expression; I lost it and began to laugh.
“Don’t laugh jerk! I coulda hurt myself!” I can’t help but laugh harder at that statement; laugh until it hurt.
“That’s my line! What were you doing Frankie?! You’re not a damn Spitfire or something. You’ll give me a heart attack someday.”
“Well… It’s fine! No one got hurt.”
Extricating herself from my midsection, Frankie dusted herself down, and extended a fluffy paw.
“Are you just going to lie around all day dad? Or are you weaker than I thought you were you lame human!”
Oh how the times have changed! She could laugh a little less sincerely though.
I get up.
I get up.
I get up.
“D-Dad. Hurry up, you can’t lie around all day.”
I try again, but I can’t seem to find the strength. That’s kinda strange.
“H-H-Here! Take my paw! Alright?!” Jesus, Frankie, please, don’t sound so scared. Please.
With a single yank she gets me upright. Everything promptly goes dark.
Now everything’s on its side. This is getting a bit exasperating; can the world sort itself out and get back to me? I’m too tired for this bullshit right now…
Frankie’s… Somewhere, I can definitely hear her. She’s talking to someone. It stinks of iron and bile. What’s she saying? No, Frankie no, I’m pretty sure I’m not dead… Frankie, shut up, I haven’t been murdered, if she doesn’t shut up about that, I’ll smack her one to prove to her how “dead” I am… Frankie, don’t sound so scared. Frankie, don’t cry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Frankie, I’m sorry. Frankie…
I’d know the short bobbed red hair, and the one-and-a-half fluffy ears that erupted from that mess, lying in my lap anywhere. However, I’m not so familiar with where I am exactly. The shitty bed, thin linen, scratchy woollen blanket and eye searing fluorescent light give me a pretty good idea though. Any further questions are answered when I notice the plastic tube down my nose and the incessant bleeping of the drip machine and heart rate monitor. In fact I’d say those facts were very hard to miss. I try to talk. Bad idea. The pain’d suggest I’d been intubated recently. Wonderful. I settle on ruffling the sleeping girl’s hair. She’s always been a slow waker. Alright, wakey wakey, stop nuzzling the hand, okay, guess it’s stretch time, are we awake now? aaaand, yes! Yes we are! Oh wow, Frankie, you’re a mess.
The glomp hug was cute and all, but it didn’t help the pain. She seemed to get the message (probably because I choked down a scream and would’ve shot a metre vertical if she wasn’t already on top of me) and eased up, but not much. She must think I’ll try and… Yeah… If she ever lets me go again. Even her, frankly scary, tail was curled around a blanketed leg.
“Don’t try and talk okay? They only took the tube out a little while ago. Don’t look at me like that, how was I to know you’d already tried?!”
She’s handling this pretty we-Oh, I guess the anger and surprise from her awakening ran out. Tears started to dampen the hospital smock.
“I… I thought I killed you! I really did dad! You were just mumbling there, and when I sat you up, you just-just-blood! Just blood and puke and you fell there and shook… I knew enough to put you on your side, you know, the recovery position, we learnt it in school dad, not long ago,” that earned her a proud smile and a pat, it only seemed to upset her more though, “t-then you just laid there, just, not moving! I-I thought you were dead, I thought I killed you! It’s all my fault, no! Don’t look at me like that!”
She’s pushed herself off of my chest now; she can’t even look me in the eye. Frankie, please don’t.
“I-I-I shouldn’t have messed around! I just wanted to show off! It’s my own stupid, stupid, stupid fault!”
She’s beginning to punctuate her sentences by slamming her fists on to her knees; you’re only going to hurt yourself Frankie. I try and make a reach for her hands… paws, grab hold on the second attempt and end up swept along with her fists’ trajectories. Man, she’s strong… or am I just weak? The sudden pissed off beeping of the machinery I was tethered to got the Manticore’s attention; she settled for gripping her knees with a scary amount force and letting me hold the tops of her paws. The electronics calmed down with her, the beeping returning to its regular annoying tempo.
“It had just been so long you know! So I practiced in secret! I just thought… You were bored of me, you know? We
didn’t play as much, and, and, Christ! I’m such a fucking kid!”
Where’d she learn that?! She doesn’t hear me fucking swearing!
“…And I thought: “I’ll really impress you,” or something stupid like that, I’ll show you some really cool acrobatics, and it’d be really fun, and we’d play like we used to, and you wouldn’t get bored of me, and I, and I, and I… I wouldn’t be alone again! Pleeeeeeeeeeease don’t die dad! Please!”
She’s outright bawling now, I can’t help but join her; there’s not much space for pride left in me, I’m too full of tubes. Feebly, I gesture to Frankie and hug her close, my tears dripping onto her furry ear causing it to flick. Even now she’s cute: snotty nosed, puffy eyed, and weeping like a girl half her age into my shoulder as I stroked her hair as well as I could manage with a drip in each hand.
I managed to croak to her: It’s not your fault, I love you and I won’t let this take me away from you, Frankie.
She only cried harder.
It felt like months had passed by the time I was wheeled out of the hospital; all kinds of get well balloons tied to the chair, gifts from Frankie’s school friends whom had crowded into my room the day before. The young boy dragged along still, a white knuckled death grip on his wrist delivered care of cute Lamia girl. I exchanged a look of pity with the young lad.
There wasn’t much that could be done.
Maybe if I had gone in when I first started feeling so tired, they could’ve done something. Guess it really was my fault after all, not that that thought could possibly comfort anyone. I found out a couple of weeks after I had first been admitted, I mean, I had my suspicions. After waiting until I was stable enough for a course of exploratory surgery, then having it done, I was dumped in Oncology; no longer on the life and death needle edge of the ICU, but destined for those waiting-to-die rooms, the whiteness, stillness and quiet of the cancer wards. Once wheeled into my room, I waited, picking at the previous occupant’s dinner that had since arrived; he had ordered it at breakfast and had passed on by lunch. My doctor finally showed up and asked Frankie out of the room. After a brief fight with a few nurses and a door being very firmly locked the doctor gave me the good news. I stared at the ceiling for a while; looked out the window over at the urban sprawl; then unlocked the door myself to save the doctor a beating. Telling Frankie went as well as you could imagine. She left to digest the information by herself, maybe selfishly, maybe out of consideration for me, maybe both. I spent my first night “officially” terminally ill listening to my next door neighbour die. He called out for pain medication, having already received the dosage he could have and long before the next could be administered. The nurse tried to comfort him, telling him that he had already received the meds and just needed to wait for them to start working. The man called for his doctor, called for meds, moaned, and then slowly quietened down as the meds took effect. The nurse passed by my door visibly agitated. The guy was dead by 3am. I fell asleep with bitter tears stinging my eyes and a prayer on my lips that I wouldn’t die like that.
It was quiet around the house, I tried to keep up appearances, still joked and teased Frankie, but now she hesitated to whomp me in response. She couldn’t help but notice the hurt in my eyes when she treated me differently, it hurt her as well. What could I do? Well, I could try to not let it show so much, but that would require admitting I didn’t really try hard enough to hide it in the first place. The frustration constantly mounted, frustration at my uselessness, frustration at my lost agency, frustration at every healthy person I saw, frustration at my frustration, but most of all, frustration at my body and how little I could do for my daughter. For a girl as stubborn, independent and standoffish as she was normally, it was nice that she had become a bit more physically affectionate. Add that to the upsides of untreatable illness.
The pain soon came, once again “there wasn’t much that could be done,” that phrase soon became a favourite of the household. Now Frankie rushed over whenever I so much as winced; she was trying to help, I know that. Yet… I couldn’t help but resent her a little, but that only made me feel disgusted by how weak I actually was, trying to drag a healthy person’s conception of pride along behind a wheelchair; it hurt Frankie just as much as resenting her would have done when I couldn’t meet her eye for the shame. I quickly got used to the pain medication, tramadol, endone, nerve blockers; the whole nine yards. It helped to mask the outward effects of dying at least and a semblance of normality returned to the house. The social worker came by to check up on Frankie, she even set her disapproving face to simply neutral. It’s like I’m already dead. I amused myself by imagining her trying to look appropriately mournful at my funeral. A nurse came around often to help with my treatment, she was a cute Kitsune, all fluffy tails and outdated, short nurse uniform. If she was trying to cheer me up via titillation, she was shit out of luck: the opiates had sapped any libido I had had. Palliative care really wasn’t a thing that seemed to be improved by raciness. That didn’t stop Frankie from hating the poor nurse with a burning, jealous passion. The nurse offered to help out with any housework that needed doing at the time, and seeing as how neither of us could be called “motivated” a lot of work around the house had piled up. Turns out she was surprisingly clumsy with housework, to the point one could be suspicious that she simply had no other motive than to change outfits to a maid dress. Instead one of Frankie’s classmates took pity on us and picked up the slack after watching Frankie eat yet another collection of her poor attempts at cuisine for one too many lunches in a row. A quiet, bookish, actually human, girl, she was apparently Frankie’s closest friend. Of course I knew her fairly well, and always wondered how such a cute, quiet, dutiful girl such as her could possibly get along with the loud, brash, walking disaster area that was my Manticore daughter. For all the work she did, she brought no comfort though. Tip toeing around me like I could be killed by a sudden surprise. I couldn’t blame her.
That’s how things stayed, and I held out for years, living off of my amassed savings, until Frankie surprised me and declared herself the “man-no-woman of the house,” and managed to find herself a part time job. 3 attempted part time jobs later and she managed to find a place that could put up with her and she could deal with too. That left me with a lot of time to brood, and it was a blessing every day when I heard the front door slam and padded feet run to my room, a tired, sweaty Manticore launching herself onto my bed to regale me with tales of her day. I rubbed her ears as I listened and laughed warmly at her stories, I’d swear that I’d get out of bed and storm down to her work to yell at the next problem customer, just like I had done all those years before at her school. She’d always just laugh, pin my shoulders down and start to admonish me. I guess she really could sort out her own problems. I hoped she could. It’s not like I could admit to her that her presence was more important to me than she could imagine, I couldn’t say that I needed her more than she needed me. I had to last. At least until she hit her age of majority. I wasn’t about to let her be churned through the system again, not when she’s so close to freedom, striking out by herself, to leaving my side, and letting me just become a bittersweet memory. Nothing more than a stranger, dying in a bed, no fault of her own, no tie to her, nothing to weep over, nothing to mourn. Could I ask that much of my useless, decrepit, deleterious body?
Such were my thoughts as I held my steadily daughter as close to my chest as I could without feeling guilty or smothering. Of course by now she was more a young adult than a young child; she’d lost most of what childish traces had been on her face all those years ago. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt, pain, when I saw the adult strength in her eyes; it was my failure that made those eyes so strong so young. Others could feel pride, but I’d rather have a daughter who’d pout and try and lie to me, a daughter I could admonish. A daughter I could teach something other than how to let go and how to be strong, even if it’s only skin deep.
I found out more about Frankie as time went on, I mean, that’s natural right? She was working in a bookshop, a second hand one. It shocked me when I first found out; it was such a huge gap in my image of that girl. I half expected, shit, even prepared myself, for frequent trips to the local police station through her teenage years. Apparently it was a shock to her teachers as well. I dragged myself to the last parent-teacher interview I would ever attend that first year I fell ill and was told in hushed tones and consolatory hand touches, gestures of pity and condolence, that Frankie (once a pretty woeful student) had turned her studies around. She was in middle school at the time so it’s not like it was difficult, but still it’s the thought that counts. I assume she didn’t want to dump any more stress on my shoulders. I could’ve dealt with it Frankie.
So the once rambunctious girl, though still hot-headed, prone to the odd outburst and flurry of punches, became a bit more bookish. I guess she was pretty tuckered out from worrying about me; I saw it in her, so I gave her a book or two that I liked. Not sure what provoked that, I had no idea that she was getting a bit more serious at that time, maybe I just wanted to share a passion that I enjoyed. Maybe it’s that thing were suicidal people hand out their possessions. Regardless, she took up reading like no one’s business, healthy escapism I suppose, I started reading more too.
The mysterious friendship between the frankly intimidating Manticore Frankie and the bookish, quiet, dutiful human girl was thusly solved. It took a little bit of investigation, chatting to each of the girls until I pieced it all together. It was a disgustingly clichéd event. Frankie sheepishly looks for a new book in the library, sees the girl reading one of her favourite books and Frankie being Frankie, she immediately went up to the young girl and probably terrified her with literary criticism. Later on Frankie would come across some monstergirls bullying the poor thing; a short and apparently brutal fight later, my daughter emerged with 2 paws worth of broken knuckles, a black eye and a steadfast friend. After apologising for avoiding Frankie (for purely logical and utterly irreproachable reasons I feel), they became joined at the hip. The loud mouthed and brash, the morally courageous and cautious: a well-balanced individual out of two bookworms. It made me truly glad to see the two enjoy something of a real childhood; still the girl’s name utterly eludes me.
I took a turn for the worse. The very worst. When I came to in that hospital bed, just like I had 5 years earlier, I beckoned the sobbing, exhausted Manticore to my side. She had found me in the kitchen, I was pretty stupid I guess. The snack could’ve waited; you can’t nibble on a one way ambulance trip and a concussion after all.
“D-Dad… I don’t know what to say. I’m old enough to know this is bad, very bad. I know you’re suffering, but I can’t… won’t let you go! Please, dad, pull through, I don’t care if you hate me, I don’t care if I’m selfish, I-I-I almost don’t care if you suffer! I just want to keep you! I want you by my side dad! I’m just a selfish monster, I didn’t deserve you for a dad, I really didn’t! I-I just don’t know what to do…”
“Frankie, hush, it’s alright; did I ever let you shy away from the realities of my situation? You’re not stupid. I don’t want to leave you either, I love you, truly I do… It’s me who lucked out! I signed some stupid paper on a whim and I got a gorgeous, thick headed idiot! I didn’t deserve to have a daughter as good as you, so you know, I won’t ever let go of something better than I should’ve gotten, it’s mine! No takesies-backsies!”
That earned me a smile and a laugh, amongst all those tears. I wipe away some of the tears; when did she start putting on mascara? It’s so adorably clumsy; the tears are making it even worse. I put my hand on one of her big fluffy paws; I cast my cloudy mind back: when did they start to dwarf my own? When did she grow into such a beautiful young girl? She still had that impossible, birds nest of a boyish bob. Man, the school was pissed when she grew it out only to put an undercut into it. I had to go down and yell at them until they un-suspended her. Frankie must’ve been a source of jealousy, she grew up lithe but with she filled out in the end. I worried about her in all honesty; our few arguments these days were in generally the same category, with seemingly unrelated spats all quietly linking back to perhaps the biggest issue of her adolescence. In all the time I had been sick, she had never had a boyfriend, to my knowledge anyways. Of course I admonished her for it, told her to look after herself. She shot me a look with those utterly clear eyes of hers; they transfixed me, almost as if she wanted to strike me. She dropped her gaze and almost inaudibly opined: “Don’t give me that, you can’t even look after yourself, but you want me to look out for number one? You think I could go around and find a boyfriend when you’re like this?”
What could I say? It’s not your fault? Don’t punish yourself? I should have said: “It’s okay to be happy”, instead I said nothing. Now I won’t have another chance, so I have no choice but to be brave.
“…Frankie, I wanted to hold out until you reached majority, and you have, I’m so proud of the girl you’ve become, and I’m sorry your birthday was so shit haha, a cripple must be a pretty big downer. I-I’m sorry. I’ve ruined your life, haven’t I? No, don’t… don’t, if I stop I won’t be able to start again. I was meant to look after you, to help you grow into a good person, and then I spent the last god knows how long in bed, utterly useless to you, an utter parasite, a load on your back, y-you must’ve resented me. I can’t blame you; Frankie, my hand’s not a handkerchief… All I can do for you is sign over what’s left of my property to you, my savings, everything. Take every cent Frankie, please, and do whatever you want with it, you’re free, you don’t have to worry about the foster system again, or anyone telling you what to do; there’s nothing tying you here, nothing to m-me. I’m just dead weight. L-let me just be a sad memory, please Frankie, I’m begging you, p-please move on. I can’t keep it together haha, I’m a mess, when you came to me you w-were all alone, and leaving you all alone again is my deepest sin, I-I’m so sorry Frankie, so, so, sorry. This is all I can do for you, and all I can hope for is that the good outweighs the bad, and eventually that you’ll forget me, and the pain I caused you, and start your own family, and never have to be alone again.”
It was a long speech and I already knew that that was the most I was ever going to say in one go ever again; but I prayed that it was enough. I had played the hand I was dealt. All Frankie could muster was a quiet “yes” and both of us lay there, quietly comforting one another, some strange semblance of family. It wasn’t long before I went back home, it was my final trip; it’s strange to consider that at some point in your life, you will ride in a car for the very last time: even something so mundane has an end. I hadn’t even hit 50. I peacefully slipped into unconsciousness with Frankie ever by my side, she insisted she was to be the one to turn off all the machinery, not even I could talk her out of it when she first haltingly broached the subject. Secretly I was proud she was that strong, but even then, I knew I’d feel guilty forcing that weight upon her shoulders, even if I couldn’t trust anyone else to do it; at least that alleviated a little bit of the fear. The paper work was done, and it was a quiet, lonesome ceremony, Frankie didn’t sob or weep for me, just as I had asked in the will; my final act of selfishness. In fact, except for a single thing, she did everything I had asked of her, Frankie went on to start her own family. But she was stubborn, from the day she met me, till the day I died and beyond; Frankie would never forget. She named her child after me.
~Frankie needs both love and art <3~