A blow to the head.
A crack to the cranium transits down the spine, taking a left-hand turn across the shoulder-blade. It runs out of fuel on its’ way to the heart.
As I grasp the back of my head, I hear a hardy laugh. I know that laugh. As a child, I could find my way around an entire grocery store just by following that laugh. The way each chuckle is interrupted by an asthmatic cough. And every cough, though scratchy and piercing, has a vibrato comparable to a friendly blackbird.
I turn to see my father, yellow teeth on display, holding a wooden spoon. What a drunk.
That allegorical crack oozes fond memories of the man who raised me. The man who ripped-off the training wheels of my very first bike with his bare hands. The man who worked three jobs and still made it to all my soccer games. The man who told me to be brave and to fight. My dad, the hero.
That crack opens wide and bacteria infects those fond memories. The righteous laugh that guides me with song-bird rhythms becomes the shriek of a raven, preying on its next rat. The strength of a super-hero becomes the brutality of a monster lying beneath my bed. The lack of sleep from working so hard turns him into a zombie and now… now the very thing that tells me to be brave makes me more scared than ever. I am a child frozen in his presence. My dad, the monster.
When the crack begins to close, when it looks like it’s getting better, the infection festers. It cannot be healed without proper care. Yes, my cranium has cracked.
The heart, however, does not split open like the cranium. Instead, it shuts itself in. It holds on and grasps tighter. It grows cold, but appreciative. The heart, once free and unfastened, becomes a vault; nothing goes in, and nothing goes out.
I do not let anyone enter anymore, but my love for you will never perish. The heart tells me that you are human, as am I, and you have tried, as have I. Though closing itself-in means shutting the rest of the world out, it will forever remember the love it no longer feels. The love of the man, my dad, the human.