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Character Sketch "My Father"
“Git ova’ here!” A voice bellowed through the house, iced with hate and slurred to the point of wincing to understand the horrible grammar. It’s father, I know it is, and he’s mad. Over what this time? Who knows. I’m certainly not going. Facing death would be better than facing him.
My father’s name is Rathspit Lorronson. I don’t think grandfather Lorron was thinking straight to name him that. Mama says that when grandfather named father he was thinking he’d grow up to be a hero and spit at the wrath others inflicted upon him. That is not what happened. Now he’s more like wraths pit, full of horrible things stashed deep down inside. I sometimes wonder if he’s even human. He grumbles. He scowls. He never, ever smiles, or laughs. He yells.
“Would somebody git their rear-end ova’ here befo’ I tan their hide!” I think my point has been adequately proven. He cheats. And lies. And steals. Just yesterday he came home with a gorgeous green sword. I think it must have belonged to the king; nobody else in the kingdom could afford such an intricately mastered hilt with a prime-cut emerald. Yes, I did say emerald. I shiver thinking about what would happen to us if the king found out. Father would be locked away, or hung, or beheaded. We could probably get along without him, though. My elder brother could run the farm; my mama could cook and my sister could clean. I’d take care of the animals. Life might even be better without him.
Father is filthy. He rarely bathes. You can smell him from a mile away. Grime, dirt and other repulsive filth is embedded in the creases in his hands. Underneath his nails are permanently black. It’s disgusting. He’s only forty, but he looks like he’s seventy. His greasy black hair is streaked with grey and he’s always slouching. You can never see his eyes because he’s always frowning or squinting. Where eyes should be I mostly see hollow holes. Hollow, dark, empty holes.
He likes using his brute strength to make other people suffer or do his will. He… he… he is the worst father ever! Always away, he is, never home, never helped me when I was young. I don’t remember him at all. He never taught me anything, except to fear him and I learned that mostly on my own. He-
A crash echoes through the small house as shards of whatever broke settle about on the floor with a tiny tinkling. A girl about thirteen winces and sets down the quill pen she was holding. She slowly stands up and edges towards the door. Footsteps rattle down the hallway and cease not three feet in front of her. She stops and takes a step back. The door bursts open and snaps, spraying splinters all over the room. It falls to the floor with a muffled thud.
“I asked and asked and called and called. WHY DIDN’T YOU ANSWER?” The roar shook the room and the girl closed her eyes. She opened them again and saw Rathspit standing in the threshold. For the first time, the girl saw her father’s eyes, peeking out from behind his glossy black hair. They were red with tiny yellow fires blazing in the centre. She was afraid. His eyelid twitched and sweat rolled off his speckled beard.
“I… I was busy,” She managed to stammer out. The man gave the illusion of relaxing, but he scoured the room with a frowning squint. His gaze pondered the quill and scroll before moving on. The girl stepped back again. The searing glare snapped to her at once. She looked deeper. Not only was hate hidden in those eyes but farther down a great fear was buried; A fear that someone would dare to double-cross him. And then he would be helpless. Rathspit Lorronson hated being helpless.
“Busy, uh? Wanna tell me whatcha really wer’ dooin’?” The girl swallowed with obvious unease. The man stalked over to her and she leaned against the desk and tensed for the blow. Rathspit’s hand clenched and rose above his head. It swung through the air, but at the last second, swerved and landed with an echoing dull thwomp on the desktop. He sighed and shrugged his shoulders. The scroll that had been sitting there fluttered under the pressure and the wind. It glided off the desk and tipped towards the fire. Then it changed its mind and floated back towards the desk. Then it spun and landed in a sea of flames. A sizzling hissing sound could be heard and a green smoke erupted from the paper. The ink that had written out exactly who Rathspit was evaporated off the surface of the scroll and the fire blinked and went out. The window rattled and the pane lifted. A wind blew through the room and knocked the inkwell to the floor. The ink spilled and poured out like black blood, oozing over the paper. Cautious, Rathspit reached down and picked up the thick paper, shaking off the wet ink. He righted the inkwell and placed it back on the desk. Over his shoulder, his daughter saw that the ink that had spilled was forming words, ‘who I want my father to be’. She backed away, unsettled.
She glimpsed at the page and what was written there startled her because it was true. It told of the perfect father who loved her and spent time with her and played with her. It told of her innermost hopes that she had kept a secret for so long, and the crazy thing was, she hadn’t written it.
Rathspit turned to look at her, “Is this really how you feel?” His voice was different. Not scary and superior, but quiet and… sad?
She got up her courage, “You are nasty, to mother, to the people in this town, to me, to everyone. I’m sick and tired of it!” She looked at his eyes. Now that they had lost their anger, they were a brilliant watery sky-blue.
That was when she realized he was crying. Small streams of water were running down his cheeks, leaving a trail of clean skin behind.
“Go. Leave.” It was a simple command with so much emotion that she was shocked. She turned to leave, but before she passed through the door, she looked back and saw an amazing sight.
Through the window that had opened when the fire went out and the wind had blown through was a trickle of sunlight that grew into a beam and passed into the room in a golden ribbon. The sunlight danced around her father and a lone green leaf floated in on the wind and landed at his feet. Rathspit leaned down and picked up the leaf and as he spun it in his fingers, a soiled, dirty, ragged leaf fell out of his back pocket and turned to dust and blew away. And holding her white paper and standing in the ribbons of sunlight and twirling that leaf in his fingertips, the girl could swear that man wasn’t her father, he was the man who had been locked up inside all those years. Maybe people could change.