Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BROKEN (12/06/18)
TITLE: Where We Started
By Donna Powers
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This story started when I drove to a small wooden cabin at the end of a country lane. The sign above its door said, “Mister Fix-It”.
It was what I’d been told to look for. I reached into my car and brought out my broken CD player. At the very least, maybe Mr. Fix-It could repair the CD player. Anything else was a gamble, and I knew it. I didn’t even really understand why I was there.
I opened the cabin door. All around me were shelves with radios and TVs. The man behind the counter asked if he could help me.
I didn’t trust my voice, so I walked up to the counter and gestured to the CD player. The man looked at it. “You want me to fix that?”
I nodded my head: yes. I still couldn’t find my voice. Once I looked at the man... it was like I was looking at my future self.
Which made sense - because he was my father.
Mom hadn’t told me much about Dad when I was growing up; just that although things hadn’t worked out between them, Dad wasn’t a bad man. At one point, she’d said he’d never even known about me. That had stopped my questions for awhile, but my curiosity had continued.
My questions had gone unanswered until recently. But last week, on my 21st birthday, she’d finally told me where to find him. “You’re old enough to make up your own mind about him,” she’d said. Sure: I’d hesitated. Yet... there something inside me had wondered about him. So, here I was.
He looked the CD player over and quoted me a price. He kept glancing at me while he did it, as if he were searching me for defects; just as he had the CD player. But he didn’t say anything except the price, and I still couldn’t speak. So I nodded to indicate my agreement with the quoted price, and began to leave the store.
Just as I reached the door, I heard him call out, “wait!”
I turned and faced him.
His eyes were intense as he asked me, “You’re my son, aren’t you?”
Well, so much for my ability to remain anonymous. I was rooted to my spot. All I could say was, “Yes, I’m your son.”
He shook his head and said, “She never told me. But I knew; the moment I saw you.”
I still had no idea what else to do or say. Then he asked if he could show me something. I nodded. He reached under the counter and pulled out a wedding photo. I recognized the picture because I’d seen it before, at home.
I finally found my voice. “Why are you showing me that picture? What do you expect me to say? I know you were married to Mom. So what? She said you couldn’t make things work between you but she never explained why.”
He told me, “I’ve got a reputation in this area. Folks say I can fix anything. They call me Mr. Fix It. But I keep this picture to remind me of the only important thing I tried to fix, and couldn’t.”
“Well, why couldn’t you?”
“I wish I knew, son. Your mother and I tried so hard. We loved each other, and we both tried our best. But I was always better at understanding gadgets than people. So I didn’t always know how to tell her how I felt, and after a while I guess she just got tired of asking.” He gazed at the picture again and then put it back under the counter. “Look. I can’t fix what happened between your mother and me. But you came here - and we both know you could get that CD player fixed anyplace. So maybe let’s have a cup of tea or something so we can talk. It may take a while but maybe we can find a way to be part of each other’s lives.”
I hesitated. He had to have sensed my discomfort.
“Please,” he said. “I know it’s awkward and neither of us know what to say. But you’re here and I don’t want us to be another thing I couldn’t fix.”
So I sat down and shared a cup of tea with my father. I figured I’d start by listening. After all, everything starts somewhere.
And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers Mal 4:6
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