Solitary

It’s a bit telling that the most vivid memories I have of you as a child involve playing Solitaire.

Most kids probably remember playing catch, maybe even some video games if their dad was cool enough. But all I have is playing Solitaire while you chatted the time away with my grandparents.

It’s true you only had so much time to see us each week, and I guess you preferred catching up on whatever you were missing on the outside and I couldn’t offer much on that front. Or perhaps they just didn’t know to stop for only a bit. To be honest, I was always so bored of your conversations that I largely tuned out. I had a deck of cards to distract myself with.

When we did speak, you certainly promised we would play catch someday – not that I would have ever been interested in that. But I probably said I would like that. To at least do something with you. We promised so much to each other that we never ended up giving. Maybe we both needed to hear those things just to get through this ordeal.

All you really offered to me was empty promises.

It’s a bizarre feeling, to have always wanted to see you but being bored as soon as I arrived. I had an expectation of someone like you in my life, but all you ever gave me was a table to lay my cards on.

My sister would now and then call me out for not engaging with you – it was apparently my job to spark conversation between us. I guess I’ve always been bad at being the one to reach out.

Now and then, I could convince you to join me in a game. War, Scrabble, Uno, meaningless games that meant you were at least doing something with me.

Really, all my memories of you involve subtly but desperately trying to get enough attention from you. But that’s always been my problem, hasn’t it? No one ever seems to give me enough. I ask too much.

It’s funny that, as soon as you were finally physically there, I slowly realized I didn’t actually want anything. Why do I feel like I’m the disappointing one in this relationship? Why must I always be the one to carry the weight of showing up? I don’t owe you anything. You could have done anything – anything – to relate. But it’s always my burden, my fault.

Or maybe I’m missing the full picture. Everything from these times are such a blur to me, maybe the only element that didn’t traumatize me enough to forget was playing a game by myself.

When I was growing up, if anyone asked about you, I’d subtly act as if you were no longer with us. I don’t believe I told anyone about you until getting to college, after spending my childhood suffocating under the weight of your being. Your mere existence has scarred me.

At least if you actually were dead, I wouldn’t have to play this game of feigning interest in forming a bond that should have been there decades ago. You need a ‘son’ – but I don’t need a father anymore. Because, to be honest, I’d rather play a completely unsatisfying card game than spend any more time on you.

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