A Father’s Job. Short Story.

Anna’s phone buzzed again, she didn’t pick it up. She already knew it was another text from Paul. If she didn’t look at them things would be ok. She could wait it out, just ignore it all until he got bored and moved on to someone else. That’s what Debbie said happened with her. Of course at the time Anna hadn’t believed her, thought that she was just making stuff up to get back at Paul when he apparently dumped her. Her phone buzzed again. Maybe she should put it on silent? She reached out, then stopped herself. No, if she opened it she’d read the messages. Her phone buzzed again, but it didn’t stop. He was ringing her now. She couldn’t answer, she wouldn’t. She knew what he was going to say already, he had already screamed it at her last night. He’d either be calling her a slut or a whore or apologising and begging for her back.

When her phone stopped buzzing, Anna grabbed it and quickly turned it off. There. Problem solved. Outside she could hear the steady roar of an engine. It sounded like Pauls car. One of those neon coloured pieces of shit, with loud engines and thumping music. She didn’t want to look, but what if it was him? She moved towards her window and peered out. She felt her heart thudding heavily in her chest. It was him. He was parked outside her house, the engine on and music blaring. What should she do? She couldn’t turn her phone on to call anyone, it’d just start ringing again. Oh god did he see her when she looked out? Maybe she could call the cops, make a noise complaint? She looked at the clock, her parents would be home in maybe a half an hour if she was lucky. Would he sit outside for that long? What if he tried to come in? No. He wouldn’t do that, he wasn’t that stupid. Outside the engine revved, then she heard the car taking off. She let out a deep breath, he was gone. It was fine.

The car drove up and down her street twenty times in the next hour. She tried to ignore it, but it was hard. This was what he wanted, to get to her, to scare her. She wouldn’t let him. She wasn’t some scared little wisp of a thing, she was able to look after herself. Hell, she had already broken up with him, the hardest part was over. As she heard the rumble of his car outside again she came to a decision. She was going to go to the cops tomorrow, complain about his texts, phone calls and driving outside her house. They might not do much, they hadn’t for Debbie, but it was a start. She’d have to tell her parents too, but that would come later, after the police. She knew her parents wouldn’t be impressed, it seemed scarier to go to them than the police.

Outside a car revved its engine, Anna jumped slightly. “It’s the goddamned car again. What the hell is he playing at?”
Her father looked at her, “Are you ok? You seem a bit nervous. That car outside doesn’t have anything to do with you, does it?”
“No father.”
“Good. If it did he’d be sorry.”
“I know father. I don’t know who it is.”
Her father nodded once. “I’m trusting you here. You know you can come to me with anything right?”
“I know.”
Her dad sighed, her mother stood from the couch and left the sitting room.
“Look, I know you were seeing a boy. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Is everything ok? I promise I won’t over react ok? I just want you to be safe.”
Anna started to shake her head again, but the tears started. It all came out in a rush, everything that had happened. Her father didn’t shout, he just held her.
“Do you want me to take care of things honey?”
Anna wiped at her eyes and after a second nodded.
“Ok. I will. Just don’t tell your mother ok? She’d be upset if she knew.”
“I won’t.”
Her father stood from the couch and smiled down at her, “Don’t worry, he won’t bother you again.”

Anna stayed on the couch long after her mother had gone to bed, her father had slipped out the door shortly after their conversation. He had been kind about it all, but then he probably viewed it as a self punishing situation. He was always big on that. He was the kind of person to watch you play with matches until you burned yourself and only then he would take them away. The door to the sitting room opened, her mother stood in the doorway, pink robe wrapped tightly around herself, her eyes seemed flat, dead. “Is your father still out?”
“Yes mother.”
Her mother nodded once and went back upstairs. Anna was always slightly afraid of her mother when she had that look.

Her father came in at two A.M. Anna hadn’t heard the car for hours now. Her father looked tired, he gave her a hug, he smelled of soap. “It’s sorted now. Why don’t you go upstairs and get a good nights sleep.”
“Thank you father.”
“You’re welcome.” He kissed the top of her head and left the sitting room. Anna turned off the lights and went upstairs.

Anna lay in the darkness, the silence of the road was both comforting and frightening. She didn’t know exactly what her father had done, but she could guess. She had known from a young age that she shouldn’t ask, or talk, about her parents line of work, even now she wasn’t entirely sure what they did, she only knew that she didn’t want to know. They came and went at odd hours sometimes, when she was ten she had stayed up late one night and saw her father coming up the stairs, covered in blood. She hadn’t thought he had seen her, but she had peeked a few times after that and there was never any blood after. Now if he came home at odd hours he smelled of soap, the same smell he had tonight. She burrowed a little deeper into her covers. She had turned on her phone earlier, fifty texts and twenty phone calls and they had stopped shortly after her father had left.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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