by Ruth Schiffmann
Dad comes in scrounging like a feeder fish at the bottom of an aquarium, for dirt, for proof. He trashes my room in his quest for answers: the who, the when, the dirty little details.
“Life doesn’t always give you all the answers,” I say. Though I know I should let the dust settle, instead of feeding the quarrel with more words. “It’s not the end of the world, ya know. At least Mom’s not alive to see—”
His dogged look stops me but he doesn’t fire back. His intensity fades in an instant and he retreats looking tired and spent, like he’s the only one hurting. But the familiarity of him turning away sparks something desperate in me. “You must feel like such a failure.”
He stops; his shoulders fall. But I go on—
“Fourteen and pregnant, what will everyone say?” As I unleash the words, meant to tear him open, they stab my own heart instead. “Daddy,” I call out, but it’s too late. He’s already gone.
To me, writing is about giving emotional weight to words. As a young adult, I read Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome and all these years later, I still can’t come across the word “twittering” without thinking of that tragic sledding accident.
I wrote Invisible in response to a prompt of ten random words, with the hope that in stringing them together, I could uncover their emotional weight.
More than two hundred of Ruth Schiffmann’s short works have been published in print and online. Her current projects include a YA novel and several picture books. Read more of her work at RuthSchiffmann.com or follow her blog at Out on a Limb.