after the mad scramble to find mittens, scarves, keys, we were finally bundled against the cold, ready to tear out the door and race off to the play we'd forgotten about until the very last minute.
i laughed as my my phone buzzed obnoxiously from the coffee table where, after all the last minute commotion, i'd been just about to forget it.
i snatch it up and flip it open.
i didn't recognise the voice at first, gravelly, tight and tired, pulled from a receiver thousands of kilometers away.
its my dad.
i've never heard him sound so haggard, so frail.
my stomach wrings itself...
and he's small talking me.
and he's asking what i'm up to, how i'm doing...
and he sounds so...old.
"I'm fine..." i tell him, and then, pointedly "how are you??"
there is a microcosm of silence
my throat tightens.
"well, Prilly..." , he sighs, " i'm not too good..."
the words aren't even finished and my mouth is dry, my guts twist into knots and my brain makes a fifty-two-pick-up game out of worst case scenarios.
where is he calling from?
where is mum?
when is the last time you spoke with granny? visited??
why haven't you called??
what the FUCK is going on??
In a clear, concise, childrens classroom voice, i ask him if he's okay? is mum okay? what's happened?
i realize that its not my dad that i'm trying to talk down.
its the panic rising in my chest
its the dirty taste of metal in my mouth
my heart pounds.
his words take eons to form sentences.
in the doorway behind me, Richard has gone quiet. the whole apartment is as still as a mausoleum.
we wait stiffly for the shit to hit the fan.