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A Poor Bargain
I saw Jason, staring into the blue ocean that I had always loved, on a day that the wind blew just so, with enough force to clear Jason’s bangs from his view. And as I watched the tanned teen envy the glowing waves, I , Rodney Smith, began to imagine all of Jason Smith’s years that I had sadly missed.
It was early, almost too early for me to be awake, though I stumbled into my sailing shirt,and a pair of dirty Adidas shorts, finally making my way to a crooked, run-down dock that I called my own. I untied my boat, released my sails from their imprisonment, and in no time, I was sailing towards town. I spent my day rummaging around Mara-Shae, the town that I had spent most of my lonely years in. I searched the local shops, and as I did so, I scanned every street corner for a sign of Jason. Glancing in each passing window, I began to ponder the likes and dislikes of the son that I had just hardly seen, from a dock away.
Sailing into my ever-familiar bay, I almost lost control of my sail when I caught a glance of Jason, fishing off of my very dock. What came next was something too perfect for reality, too perfect for my own; and yet, the moments came, as if being directed by some prick from Hollywood. As carefully and quickly as possible, I navigated my small sail boat alongside my failing dock, and as I did so, Jason did not flee; he merely stood, staring at my boat. I pretended not to notice, not to smile too brightly, hoping that I wouldn’t be giving away any hint that I had been waiting--dreaming of this moment since the day that his mother, Carolyn, left me, prying Jason from my desperate arms.
Jason reached for the bow of my boat, and assisted with guiding her safely to my dock, and he continued to lend me a helping hand by tying her down. Though he tied the rope as if it were a shoe-lace, I wasn’t going to harm his ego by re-tying the nonprofessional knot. I glanced to Jason, as I finished tying down my sails, and as I finally secured my knot, a great smile appeared on both my face and his. I smiled at his mysterious, green eyes, ones that I myself once had, those that seems to fade as my hair did, years before. I finally realized that I had been staring too long, at the handsome man that my son had become, and as I was about to speak, Jason beat me to the chore. He extended his hand to mine, and in a deep, calming voice he introduced himself, “My name is Jason.” And with that, he continued. “I am staying with my uncle for the summer, and he told me of your talent for sailing, because I have always wanted to learn.”
Beginning on, from that day forward, I spent multiple hours sailing my son. And as I taught Jason to sail, he taught me everything that I had ever wondered about him. He told me of his friends, the hearts that he had broken, and of his own, which had been massacred by a beautiful girl named Rose. Jason explained, to me, his talent for baseball, one that I possessed as well. And finally, as Jason and I learned to trust one another, on a calm night, when the ocean didn’t even make a whisper, he mentioned his father. Little did Jason know that the man he was ridiculing for abandoning him, was the one whom was sitting mere feet away, calmly listening to the insults.
Some can’t understand why I kept my identity hidden from Jason, and in fact, I never expected anyone to do so. If I had stumbled upon enough luck to even meet my son, I had always promised myself that I wouldn’t scare him away by revealing our connection, for I did not know what his reaction would be. As always had, I kept that promise; so I continued to lend my son an ear, listening to his hate, anger, and confusion, biting my tongue at the chance for me to explain,not defend.
I was given a miracle by being reunited with my son, I was given a bargain though, unfair, I believe it to be. I was given three weeks to live, a mere sliver compared to the eleven months that I was originally promised. Promises; I had always kept mine, and so it had seemed the same for my son. But doctors never seem quite capable of that, so I believe that they shouldn’t make them at all, nor should they hand them out, like a free sample at the local grocery store. Anyway, on the second day of my twenty-one days to live, as I was trying to divulge a plan to explain our mess of a connection to Jason, I collapsed onto the floor of my bedroom.
I awoke in an uncomfortable hospital bed, accompanied by IV’s, which were plugged into me at all ends. It was just as I had imagined my death, it seemed as though that was the way everyone went. Yet, I wasn’t quite ready to leave. Completing my final task of life, with a kind nurse’s assistance, I wrote a letter of explanation to my son. My letter to Jason was short, and more blunt that I had originally hoped it would be, though it was the best that I could manage for him, in my deteriorating health. As I finished my letter, signed it, and struggled to seal the envelope, I realized that in my final moments I had been watched; Jason’s uncle stood in my door way. There was the man, who in reality, brought my son to me. Yes, in my last moments, he stood before my frail self, and in my condition, I was too weak to thank him. I had only wished that the thought of writing him a letter would have crossed my mind. Then a thought immersed, which was far more important; he was the only option that I had of getting my letter to my son. I lifted the envelope in his direction and Keith approached with caution; weakness of another had always been tough for him. “Place this in my boat, please.” I could give no more explanation than that, but I had trust in Keith that he would understand, for if he knew enough that I needed Jason in my life, he would know just enough to understand exactly what I wanted with that letter.
I died that night, or passed on, as my mother had forced me to call death as a young child. The following day, an article was published about my life, in the local newspaper, the newspaper that I had received every Sunday, since I was thirty-one years old. And to my greatest surprise, from a comforting cloud above, I witnessed Jason reading the article, the first soul to do so. I watched my son carefully examine the article, and I braced myself for his reaction, once he would discover my last name, in the final line of the article. My last name was something that had conveniently never shared with him.
Once my article was read, Jason placed the newspaper down carefully, on his father’s couch, and began to walk towards his uncle’s tattered, screen door. When Jason opened the door, and his feet met the sand, he began to run. Where he arrived was the exact spot that I had hoped Keith would place my letter; for even if I had only known my son twenty-three days out of his seventeen years of existence, he was still my son, he was still part of me; predictable. When Jason read the words that I had authored for him, and he did not cry, when he folded the letter and placed it in his back pocket, as I would have, when he untied the sails of my boat and began to head for a little spot along the bay, one we both loved, when my handsome, green-eyed son smiled, I had all of the closure that I would ever need.
I’m in my final hours, or moments, who knows. Anyway, as confusing as there words will be, they’re my life’s dream to be expressed. I am your father, Jason. And I’m proud to be just that. I’m sorry that I don’t have the time to explain my absence in your childhood, but as I see it, that’s not important. The importance is that I was reunited with you, and lived out my final days with the best son that any father could wish for.
Love, You Father,
Rodney L Smith
P.S: The house is yours, and of course, so are the boat and dock. It’s the least that I can do for you. Keep sailing.