Tim Wilson

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Chapter I.XVI

I think I've gotten offtrack. Somewhere in here, I forgot that I was supposed to be writing about stories my dad told me, and it turned into stories I had about my dad. Sometimes, it wasn't even about my dad. I think I tried to make a tribute, and it started to be about me. Wasn't that exactly what I got upset at Dad for, when he tried to make excuses at Mom's funeral? Wasn't it that behavior that made me so angry? Well, it might have been a couple things.

I know now that no one is going to read this. It doesn't do what I want it to do. But to trim it, to polish it, would be insincere. I just have to accept that this isn't about Dad. It's about me. I guess I can live with being selfish behind closed doors. I don't want to. But I wouldn't do myself any favors if I pushed it down.

Dad died on the 12th of July, 2024. It was a nice, warm day, and he had finally taken some time to himself to go on a hike down in Sandy. He found a trail by Tickle Creek, and took it. It's a flat path. Nothing strenuous in the slightest. But it doesn't matter. Whatever it was, it had already begun its cycle. He suffered a heart attack, and fell face first into the shallow water. Seems he never took time out of his schedule to get that surgery. He lived to be 68. Not a short life, but not a long one. He is survived by his wife, Alice, his sons, Anders and Robin, and his one remaining daughter, Faeowynn. I have no solid conclusion, here. I have no good or bad ending. I have no crescendo, I have no epilogue. I have no closure.

Today is July 16th.




Brrr, brrr, brrr… brrr, brrr, brrr…

"Fae?"

"Hey, Anders."

"Hey. If you're calling, does that mean you're coming home?"

"I think so."

"That's wonderful. Mom and Robin have been really worried."

"Have you?"

"A little bit."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Everyone grieves in their own way."

"Right. Did you tell them?"

"No."

"Thank you."

"It's nothing."

"It's something." … "I'll be home in some hours. I have to check out of a hotel and drive back. I'm just gonna say I needed time to myself, came down to Sandy to walk the trail and have the experience."

"That's close enough to the truth."

"Yeah. Seriously, thank you."

"Seriously, it's not an issue. You'll be home for dinner?"

"I will. What's it going to be?"

"I don't think anyone's in a headspace to cook, we're ordering Chinese takeout."

"Sounds right. Are you doing alright?"

"Am I doing alright?"

"Yeah."

"I think I am."

"Are Alice and Robin?"

"I don't think anyone's made it to the recovery phase yet. That said, Mom is keeping it together. Robin, no."

"Mmm."

"They will feel better with you home, though."

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm on my way."

"Good. See you when I see you. Mom and Robin are out, you might get home with just me here."

"What are you doing?"

"Watching Sesame Street."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"Alright, see you."

"See you soon."

Click.




The sun was warm, the sky was clear, the day was beautiful, and I felt none of it. The place in front of my eyes was the same to me as the earth beyond this town was to Boring. To think that it existed at all felt wrong. Was there anywhere that rats couldn't grow wings? Was there anywhere that was unaffected by the death of Tim Wilson? Anywhere that people went on living life as normal? Did it exist? Or was it made up? It was hard to believe that there was any time but now. Hard to believe that there was a before or an after. A cause to effect. Anything to do.

These were the thoughts passing through my head on the way home from Sandy, through the woods and backroads that were then familiar to me. The sun was shining on me, but it didn't penetrate through the skin. I lived in my own private world, for the moment. I sometimes pulled onto the side of the road when I noticed I was spacing out and feared that I might begin to veer into woods or the wrong lane.

I eventually passed beyond the treeline and into the farms and fields of my hometown. I took in no sights while making my way down the simple, straight roads towards my house. I parked, stepped outside, and found a familiar sight. Anders was standing inside the open doorway, awaiting my return. I grabbed my satchel, closed and locked my car, and plodded towards the door. Once we met, we hugged.

"Glad to have you back home."

"Glad to be back home."

"Did you get your writing done?"

"I did."

"Did it help?"

"I'm not sure."

"That's alright."

"Is it?"

"I think so."

We pulled away from each other.

"Wow, Anders," I smiled weakly, "I didn't even know you had sweatpants."

He looked down at himself. He was wearing a dress shirt, a very loose tie, and lightly stained sweats. A less humorous observation was on his scent — he wasn't particularly unclean, but he had always had a problem with body odor, and it smelled like he had, for the time being, given up on covering it.

"They're pajamas. Great for laying on the couch and doing nothing all day, though. What are we standing in the doorway for? Come in, I made us hot chocolate."

"Oh, thank you."

I walked in and followed Anders through the left archway, and into the lounge room. A stack of Anders' books were on the table between the couch and the TV, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mona Lisa Overdrive, and Dear Fang, with Love. Each had its own bookmark, but they weren't put very far in. The couch also had a pillow and a yellow, scratchy blanket.

"This is your station?"

"Has been for the past few days. Robin's mostly locked up in his room. Alice can't pick one place to stay, but she's spending a lot of time in the backyard practicing with the fencing dummy. It's a little manic, but I'd rather she be doing something than nothing. It's Robin I'm really worried about." He sat down, and motioned to two mugs on the coffee table. One was dark brown, and the other was a creamy white. I picked it up and gave him an inquisitive look.

"Try it," he said.

I sipped, and raised my eyebrows. "Did you melt one of my chocolates into it?"

"Nope. I just found an unlabeled pack of hot chocolate behind some cans, and it made that. You can find it for yourself in the pantry. Purple and yellow box."

"Unlabeled?"

"Mhmm."

"Damn it. I recently discovered that stuff doesn't come from the local candy store. I never asked him about it, not really sure why. He took that secret with him to the grave."

"That he did. Maybe it's all homemade somehow."

"And he'd make something for me and not you guys?"

Anders shrugged. "You and uh… Tim always really loved you, you know."

"More than…?" I shut myself up before finishing that thought.

"Oh, no. No, just. I think he thought he had to work harder for you."

We entered a silence, and took sips of our cocoas. "You're already speaking in past tense. I thought you were supposed to have a period where that comes difficult."

"I know what you're talking about, but I'm not sure that's true."

"What are Alice and Robin out doing?"

"They're picking out a coffin right now. The funeral is supposed to be in just under a week, on Monday."

"We can organize it that fast?"

Anders smiled, neither inauthentically nor happily. "It's an 'all hands on deck' issue at Wilson's Wildlife. We're not organizing it alone. Whole organization is helping out."

"Wow." Another moment endured while we looked out window at rows of corn beyond our fence. "Well, I think I'm going to go to the shed. I'm not totally out of a need for time to myself."

"I get you."

I started to rise, my weak will powering weak legs.

"Hey," Anders began, "should I bring your takeout to you, or will you be joining us for dinner?"

"Still doing family dinner?"

"Myself and Mom, at least."

I thought for a second. "I'd appreciate it if you brought it to me."

"Can do."

And thus I left. I passed by the glass table in the front yard, the fencing dummy in the backyard, some flowers that Robin was taking good care of, and then entered the left door to the shed, the door that went into my room. There, I unloaded my bag, and plunged face first onto my bed. My right arm over its side reached into my satchel and pulled out the tablet. I then rolled onto my back and held it up while it turned on. My password was entered. My homescreen unlocked. My files were available to me. I opened up Stories My Dad Told Me, and read through it all. Or, my eyes passed over every word, but I was lost in my own head. Often, I had to reread a paragraph three or more times to understand it, or otherwise give up entirely and let myself rattle through without recognition or feeling. It was a lot of words. More words than I expected I was capable of writing in four days or so. How much had I eaten in the past few days? How much had I drank?

I guess dinner was sooner than I expected, because I heard a knock at my door. Once I had finally gotten the energy to get up, I went and found a styrofoam container with a sticky note on top, reading:

Please get a good night's sleep tonight.
-A
P.S. You never saw the body. If you want to, meet me for breakfast at 8:00

I put the food in my minifridge, and left it. For a moment, I stood at the foot of my bed, just holding onto the posts, eyes closed, breathing deep. What good was this doing me? What was it I was really after?

I pictured Tim. The man in the morgue. The man with his right hand on a pen and his left hand on his chest. The founder of Wilson's Wildlife Solutions, the Californian immigrant to Oregon, the animal-lover, the letter-writer, the man who never showed up. Tim, who made me complacent, who took all the fight out of me by giving me a home and a job when I was listless and drifting. Tim, who never fully grasped my name or my womanhood. Tim, whom I had so much to say to and ask of. Tim, who I could never talk to again.

I pictured Dad. Not Tim, but Dad. The slightly chubby, on the short side, bearded, round-faced, brown-eyed, brown-haired diver. The man on the boat. The man under the waves. The man in the bay, the man at home. Home in San Diego, Mom and Dad and the city and the ocean. I tricked myself into smelling saltwater, and into hearing high traffic. I momentarily forgot the smell of pine, the field of one-story buildings, the mountains, the cold winters, the rainy season, the squirrels and deer and everything else. I deceived myself into a state of simplicity. Of when I didn't question what being a boy meant. Of when I didn't feel the need to leave Mom on the West Coast. Of when I wasn't making it in the business world of New York. Before everything. In a perfect world, I would remember that time before I was born, and picture that, but there was no such file in memory.

My face contorted. I lifted a hand, grazed a finger under my eye. I felt for tears. But I found none.

I opened my eyes. I was still here. I was still in Boring. Life had happened, whether I wanted it to or not. I was Faeowynn. I was alive. I was the chief financial officer for Wilson's Wildlife Solutions. An organization which now was headless. An organization under the thumb of the Supervisors, and full of magic animals. My life was absurd. My present was so dominant over the past that I felt like it might have never happened.

Whatever I was looking for, it wasn't in those files, and it couldn't be confined to words.

I opened my tablet, deleted the doc, and stuck it back in its bag. I laid on my side above my covers and closed the blinds over the windows. The whole night, I was wide awake on that beach, the surf pulled back, the town evacuated. The whole night, I looked out at the horizon, where water was visible, yet so far away. I walked through a desert, the shoreline receding with each approaching step, like a mirage that you can never get to. I was that house. My panes were clattering, my windows threatening to break, my door barely holding onto its hinges, and yet it stayed together. The hurricane promised to pull me apart, but I wouldn't. It promised to turn me to shreds, but I wouldn't. It wanted to flatten me out, but I wouldn't.

I wanted to let it, but I couldn't.




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