// CHAPTER XXXI //

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JOHNSON's POV

I stare at the ceiling. Looking at the white, blank ceiling makes me feel calm because I don't really have to think of anything. But, nothing can put my mind at ease knowing the shit I've done. I can't believe I let this happen. I remember when I was younger my Dad was always like this. He would just space out, or act sad all the time. He would blame it on his job, "Just another day at work." He would reply when I would ask to play. My Mom noticed too, but she didn't really take any note. I did, though. My Dad used to be such an amazing man, I always hoped to grow up and be a man my Dad would be proud to know. I wanted to be like him, I remember looking up at him when I was nine and he seemed like he was twelve feet tall.

I get up and walk over to my drawer and unlock it. It's the only one that locks, so I put them in here. I take out a CD marked "before" and put it in my laptop. The screen opens up, and the nostalgic pictures move on the screen. My Dad and I were more alike than he could ever imagine. We both have blonde hair, and were both scrawny for our age. In the video I'm laughing with my Dad, I must've been around four. "Jack, what're you doing?" His voice stings yet calms me. I'm afraid I'm not going to remember the sound of his voice one day. "I'm you, Dad!" I have his shirt on, it's basically a blanket for me because I was so small. "Oh, Jack come here."

I trudged over to him and he hugs me. I close my eyes. I can't remember how he felt. I don't remember hugging him, I don't remember. Watching these videos, I beg myself to, but I can't. I hope my Dad is watching me and knows that even though I let him down, that there's still some of him in me. The video ends, and buffers for a moment. There's another one and I'm singing in the car with my Dad. We used to pretend to rap together, I guess that's where I started liking music. I lay back down, watching the video from a side view. "Do you remember us singing songs, Dad?" I say to myself out loud. We drove around this small town just so we could spend time together. "You're my favorite son, Jack." He said in the video, which was supposed to be funny because I was his only kid. "And, you're my favorite Dad, Dad." I say aloud following along with the video. Even after all these years that day stays in my memory.

I was playing with Jack earlier and then his parents made dinner, and so did mine. But, my Mom wanted me to come home for dinner so I did. When I came home my Dad had brought home a gift for me. "Jack, I have something for you!" I ran up to him and hugged him, he picked me up and handed me a Woody from Toy Story action figure. I roll over to my drawer and take it out. I hold it, stroking the face. It's one of the few things I have that my Dad gave me. After eating dinner, I kept playing with the toy and my Dad was smiling and watching me. "I love it!" I said, never once stopping my smiling. He smiled back and asked if I wanted to take a drive. I shot up and agreed because I knew that meant we would get ice cream and sing along to old school music together. Out of all the memories I had with my Dad I think that's the one I'm going to remember him by. Not the ones where he wouldn't get out of bed, or say he couldn't play because he was tired. I remember him through the memories when he was my Dad, my actual Dad. Even though he used to break my heart and tell me I was being a bad son by getting in trouble at school with Jack, I still will always regret one thing. Before it happened, one day my Dad was acting normal again. I was in my room getting ready for a party to go to with Jack. This party was going to be the best one of the year, we were finally in high school and got invited to an upperclassman party. My Dad knocked on the door and I let told him to come in. In the midst of trying to actually match my clothes he said, "Hey, Jack. Do you want to go for a drive?"

I snapped. "No, Dad can you leave? I'm busy tonight."

And, with that he closed the door and said "Sorry, son."

I texted Jack telling him how annoying my Dad was and partied the night away without any thought. I thought "Wow, this is the life." I felt invincible. Nothing in the world could've ruined that night, and nothing did.

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