Prose: Almost

Something I stumbled across on an old memory stick. Enjoy.

-U

Almost

 I almost had something special with my dad. We almost had a conversation once. We almost talked about something important. Something other than football. Or the weather. I used to see him come in almost every night, and I would almost say hello. He almost disappeared into the shadows, the way he crept upstairs. It was almost like he wasn’t there.

Sometimes, I almost hated him. He used to drink a lot, almost every night, and almost always too much. One night he almost went too far and got violent with mum. He almost punched her. I could have almost killed him I was so angry. Mum almost called the police.

Other times, I almost felt sorry for him. Birthdays would come and go with almost no fanfare, almost every year. I didn’t even know how old he is. It almost didn’t matter really, he’s just dad. Whatever age dads are.

One time, he almost died. I think about it almost all the time. He was hit by a car and the impact almost killed him. When I found out, I almost didn’t go to the hospital. Wasn’t sure if I wanted to. When I eventually did visit him I was almost relieved. I almost cried, which made me feel better. I suppose it proved I cared. Almost. We almost didn’t speak, but we did in the end. I asked how he was and he said he was ok. I almost believed it. He was weak. He was a weak man. He was almost always weak. That’s what mum said.

A few months later it was almost like nothing had happened. Everything was back to normal. Dad would come and go and the rest of us would act like he wasn’t there. He almost wasn’t, in a way. Almost wasn’t part of the family. And without him, I suppose you could say we didn’t have a family. Not a proper one.

When he did actually die, I almost didn’t find out in time for the funeral. As far as I knew, there almost wasn’t a funeral. Not one worth mentioning I mean. It was a quiet affair. Almost nobody other than immediate family turned up. Now that he’s gone I can’t say I miss him. I almost feel like I do, sometimes, but then I remember that there’s not much to miss.

I almost didn’t write this. I knew it would be ridiculous, the way I almost always use the word ‘almost’ in everything I write. It’s almost a curse, almost impossible. I think I got it off dad actually. He used to say almost a lot, a long time ago, when I was little. Everything was almost this, or almost that. I think it stuck, somewhere in the back of my head. Then I got older and we stopped speaking, and I almost forgot about the way he would say almost all the time. Almost.

 

Mum was different. She never said almost but almost always said never. I used to almost always have to correct her that it would never really be never, but she never changed her ways and just said I was being clever. But I was almost never clever. Anyway most of the time she was wrong and would do the things she said she’d never do again, which almost goes to show that you can never say never. But mum could never say almost, not if she could help it.

She never really forgave dad, even though he never did anything wrong. By which I mean he never did anything out of character. I mean, after a while, he was almost predictable but never forgiveable and you could almost take that as an excuse. But that’s not fair on mum. She never did anything. Almost never.

Sis was always on mum’s side, but never said almost and almost never said almost either. She would always say always, something she’d always done from an early age and never quite grown out of. She was always getting into trouble by saying always, making promises she could almost never always keep. Mum always told her to say almost instead, but never  told her to say never, which makes me think that she might never have hated dad as much as I always thought she almost did. I almost got in trouble once, I’ll never forget it. Me and sis got a card for mum’s birthday like we always did. We never forgot mum’s birthday even though I almost always forgot dad’s and always almost never forgot sis’. Anyway sis signed the card, ‘with love, always’ and I couldn’t help but write ‘almost’ in there. So in the end it said ‘almost with love, always’. Mum said she’d never forgive me, but she almost always said that when I did something wrong.

 

I guess I was always more like dad than I thought, always saying almost and never saying always or never. And sis, well, she was always saying always, which mum and dad almost never said, which makes her unique. Almost as unique as me.

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