by Bill Cox
In hindsight there had always been a watchfulness about Dad that went beyond parental concern. From the outside it probably appeared that he was being especially attentive, trying to do the work of two parents because Mum had left when I was young. However, it’s obvious now that he had actually been waiting for that moment when my powers manifested.
I was thirteen when it happened, a vision intruding into the mundanity of lunchtime break at school. It was potent, so vibrant – more real than real, as Dad described it. I didn’t know what to make of it, until two days later when the incident my vision portended occurred. Friendless Jimmy Marshall, favoured whipping boy of some particularly nasty first year bullies, took his own life in a public and bloody manner. I’d seen this gruesome show before though, two days previously.
Dad, ever-vigilant, could tell right away that something was up with me.
“You can see things, son, that other people can’t,” he explained. “Sometimes it’s the future, sometimes it’s things that happened in the past. Usually quite intense things. I’ve been there too, and so has every first-born male of our line. There’s nothing magical about it, just a twist in one of our genes that lets us access information other people can’t.”
Like any other skill or aptitude, this was one that could benefit from training. With Dad’s teaching, I could encourage the visions, prolonging them and focusing on what was being shown. Occasionally we could gain financial advantage through what I had seen, although that aspect didn’t make me feel particularly comfortable.
Nevertheless, I would have been happy to carry on, until the vision I had this morning. Mum was there – I recognised her from the photos – and I saw myself as well, as a baby. I didn’t recognise the house, but I saw Dad. He looked so young and I could make out that the two of them were arguing, although I couldn’t understand what about. Then, to my horror, he picked up a glass bottle and hit her full force on the side of the head. Mum collapsed in a heap and Dad began to kick her. I could hear my own cries, both in the pram back then and in the here and now as I watched.
Dad stopped his assault and knelt down beside Mum. I could see by the way she was lying and the open staring of her eyes that she was dead. Realising she was gone, Dad broke down, sobbing. Then something peculiar happened. He stopped, looking over at the pram where my still-crying younger self lay. Then I swear that he looked round at me, the me watching in the present, like he could see me. It was a gaze that understood that sins cannot be hidden from those like us.
So I sit here in darkness, waiting for his return. I have the knife in my lap, one of those things that most sixteen-year-old boys have secreted away somewhere. A part of me wonders if a child of mine will one day witness this scene and what they will make of it. Maybe I will become watchful, the guilt making me fear the judgement of my own blood. In the meantime, I wait and ponder. What if my father has already seen this moment? What would I do if I knew that my own son would turn against me? I hear a key turn in the door and as I get up I wonder, which of the two of us has the clearest vision.