It’s February 15th and the clock flashes 2:07 AM. Pasqual, single father of a beautiful 7 year old boy named Seneca, lies next to his dormant son. He’s so peaceful in his sleep. Pasqual embraces his warm little body, holds his hand with a couple of his fingers, and kisses him on the forehead. While gazing at his creation he begins to remember the days he had to drop Seneca off at the airport so he could visit his mother across continents. So proud he wouldn’t show the sadness that sickened him until the only company he had was the car in the airport parking lot. Dashboard, steering wheel, and seat took the blows of his tears. After a lonely and painstaking ride back home, Pasqual rushed into Seneca’s room. He opened the drawers and pulled out Seneca’s tiny shirts and smelled them. Each scent of his son brought him closer to him. He collapsed on the bed and held the pillows and blankets as if they were Seneca himself. Wails of suffering commenced, and the tears ensued again. It was worse than the parking lot; his home no longer a home without his one and only baby.
He moves the clock even further back in time when he was married to poverty — the days he was laid off because technology did his job better. Seneca’s survival depended on Pasqual becoming a test tube. He volunteered to test for medications that had yet to be FDA approved. His mind and body slowly diminished; nights were spent throwing up, excreting painful stools, and urinating kidney stones the size of marbles instead of sleeping. The worst was the breaking out of rashes. The thought of those days brought back the painful memory of his skin being torn apart by his nails because he couldn’t withstand the itch. Those lost skin cells, the leftover scars, dead kidney stones, and departed vomit was all worth it. He remembered the joy created on Seneca’s face when he got the Nintendo 64 for Christmas. If he hadn’t been a lab rat, poverty would have never been masked and Seneca would have had a Santa-less Christmas. It was an important one too. That was the year his ex-wife, Seneca’s mother, overdosed on heroin. He guessed the memories of being raped by her own father were only suppressed by the heroin and eventually heroin was tired of feeding her addiction and cut her off.
Now, he smiles in appreciation that his son is lying next to him, not in some other land, but at home with his Dad. Just daddy and son, no one else.
Life wasn’t good to Pasqual; she gave him the worst of what she could offer. But after a while she felt bad and gave him moments like these. Moments of tranquility and peace.
Seneca’s stomach moves upwards and back down. Pasqual couldn’t help but grin watching his son sleep with his mouth wide open like usual, and his tiny breath barely able to create any noise. He couldn’t sit still in his sleep, at night, the sheets always ate his socks and his pillows dived off the bed away from Seneca’s captivity. In the mornings Seneca would complain because Dad had him pick up all the sheets and pillows and forced him to make his bed. He never understood why he had to make a bed he would just mess up again later that night.
Pasqual treasured all these memories, the good and the bad because at this moment he is with his son. He glides his hands down his pants and enters his pockets, out comes two white pills. He gets up without waking Seneca and feeds the two cups of water with the pills. The water digests them quickly.
He turns back to the bed and shakes him gently, “Seneca, wake up baby.” Seneca groans and his eyelids begin to flicker slowly. In his faint and sleepy voice he says, “Daddy is it time for school?” “No my love” he responds. “I just want you to take some vitamins.” “But why” he says. “Well son, it will make us really strong, so come on sweetie, just move up a little so you can drink it with me.” Seneca says “OK.” He gets up and they both ingest the water that just had a meal. “Thanks Daddy, I love you” and crashes right back down in bed. With moistened eyes and in a cracked voice he says, “You’re welcome baby, I love you too, you are perfect, you are the greatest thing to ever happen to me.” He lies down with Seneca and they embrace each other. Seneca says, “Thanks Daddy, could we go to Go-Karts after school tomorrow?” With suppressed tears he responds, “of course hijo, anything you want, goodnight my son, see you soon.” “Night Dad.”
They never woke up again.
A letter was scheduled to arrive the next day to Seneca’s teacher, Ms. Hess, explaining why Pasqual poisoned not only himself, but also the reason for his existence, Seneca. In the letter she will read that on Feb 3rd, Seneca, was diagnosed with severe Muscular Dystrophy and the chance that he would make it past 14 was rare. The duration of his life would be in paralysis and he would not be able to care for himself. Pasqual refused to let his son suffer such a painful demise. He made the decision to stop it in its tracks and gave him true peace; death. After Ms. Hess reads the letter, she will rush home to her kids and hold them tighter than ever before.
It’s February 15th and the clock flashes 3:36 AM. Father and son lie lifeless in each other’s arms.
Just daddy and son, daddy and son…..
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