The Ink Well Prompt #41 - A Gift as Present

Image source

"How would you end your story?", my father's words rang through my ears as I stood opposite Harith, my tormentor in my last two years of primary school, we stared at each other fourteen years later. We each knew the person on the other side of the bar pretty well. He didn't expect what was coming, a gift I had for him inside my jacket, a shot.

Sixteen years ago, I ran toward the hospital from school with a bleeding nose. I was holding the torn pieces of paper on which I drew my first superhero, the Skyholder. I arrived at the hospital to see my mother waiting for me, she has been there tending to my father after he got stabbed multiple times by a junkie when he was walking me home from a friend's house one night. The hospital was closer to the school than home, so it made sense I go there after school.

"What happened to your nose?", my mother asked in shock.
"I got beat up by Harith again", I replied.
"Again?", my mother stressed "I have talked to the principal so many times. I will see what I can do tomorrow"

After that, my mother took me to the doctor to get my stitches fixed before taking me to see my dad. Despite the weather, that room always felt cold with him laying in that bed, barely able to move.

The memories of my father laying in bed, the night he was stabbed by the junkie, and my memories of getting beat up by Harith got mixed up together as I walked slowly toward Harith. It wasn't the first time I see him since we both left school after two years of bullying I suffered from his hands. In fact, I had grown a habit ever since I learned how to use the internet and gained the freedom to move around, a habit of knowing where he is most of the time.

As I stared at Harith the images of me putting back together the pieces of paper with tape as my father helped me in his hospital bed came to mind.

"It is useless, dad", I felt discouraged.
"No, son", he replied "You can put it back together"
"He is also covered with blood", I justified.
"Well", my father explained "Maybe that's how he got his superpower"

Those words from my dad made sense to me as I had always struggled to create a backstory for the Skyholder. My father gave me outlines by explaining how he might have gotten his superpower after getting beaten up by his antagonist, one I identified with Harith's characteristics.

My obsession with finding Harith grew as I watched my father trying consistently to find the junkie who stabbed, that junkie was the Harith to his Skyholder, the evil that must be eliminated it seemed.

As I drew near Harith at the bar, I remember not fearing him for the first time in my life, for the first time in our interactions, I felt in control of my own fate. It might have to do with me growing up to succeed with my gift as a writer, the superpower I gained after being left with a broken, bleeding nose. But it definitely had something to do with I came to learn about Harith, he wasn't that scary of a guy.

"I have to find him", my father would often say to my mother.
"Why?", she would reply "He might be even more dangerous now if he recognizes you"
"No", my father would explain "He knows what he did is wrong, I saw it in his eyes when he took the wallet and ran away"

That conversation was imprinted into my head. I could see it in Harith's eyes, I knew my father was right. I came to learn that Harith wasn't the big, scary, dangerous guy he tried to show. Harith was the son of the school principal, and while he was protected at school, he would go to a broken home every night to an abusive father who blamed him for everything wrong in the world. He wasn't a scary dangerous guy, just a scared, weak guy.

The last time I heard my father talking about the junkie to my father is to point out the fact that he found him.

Much like my father, I came face to face with the man who tried to break me. This is the meeting my father saw coming as he realized that I have completed all my stories except the one with Skyholder as years went by. While my father came face to face with the junkie after searching for him, the Skyholder always watched but never confronted his antagonist.

I stepped close and closer to Harith at the bar until there were no more steps to be taken. It was just me and him, the memories we shared formed loud shackles separating us from the rest of the world. I reached for the inside of my jacket as the memories of my father the day before came running.

"Why haven't you finished this story?", my father asked.
"I don't know how", I replied "The only way to do it seems too extreme for what I am willing to write at the moment"
"What do you mean extreme?", he seemed baffled.
"I mean like you did with that junkie after you found him probably", I answered.
"What do you know about that?", a look of concern came over "And what do you think I did?"

I found myself unable to spell out the words and my father saw that on my face.

"Come with me", he said as he put on his jacket "I want to show you something"

My father drove with me next to him for twenty minutes or so. Eventually, we stopped in front of a store of the sort. The store seemed to be about to close before I spotted the person closing the store, it was a cleaner version of that same junkie, he was later joined by a little girl hugging him by the legs and a woman with whom he shared a kiss. The man found my father in the car and they both shared a smile and nod before the man walked away with his family.

"You helped him?", I asked, feeling baffled.
"I saw it in his eyes, son", he explained "He needed help"
"HE needed help!", I was in shock "The man who stabbed you"
My father took a deep breath before saying "You don't stab a man in front of a child unless you seriously need help"

A second passed before he elaborated "Those who need help, should get it. Sadly, for some people, they don't have a person with the obligation to help them as they sink deeper into the abyss. Those people need help the most. When you left school with a broken nose, you had us by your side, turning a sad moment into a triumph. Do you think anyone was there for that man when he had his downfall moment or even any moment as he was falling further and further?"

After that, my father asked me the question I was thinking about as I stood facing Harith "How would you end your story?"

"What do you want?", Harith said with an aggressive yet defeated tone.
"I am here to offer you a shot", I answered.
"I already have one", he replied as he raised his shot glass.
"That's not the type of shot I meant", I explained "I am aware of how things turned out for you. And let's just say I have attained an ability to spot a person using drugs and in a hard place. I want to start by offering you a job"

Harith took a few minutes before replying, his lips were almost moving, every muscle in his body felt eager to speak words he never learned how to share.
"I will take the job offer", he said calmly.

I can't tell you that Harith and I became best of friends or that we hung out off work often. But I could tell you that the antagonist in my superhero story took Skyholder's peace offering gift and became a superhero himself as he learned how to heal from a nose bleed that lasted for years.

3 columns
2 columns
1 column