Imperfect Meetings (Flash Fiction)

The moments are rare, but he tries. With effort and heart and dire determination, he pushes beyond five dollars mailed inside of birthday cards, beyond a quick video chat to shout out, “Hi!”. He arrives for a designated weekend, a rare appearance after missing many for reasons he can never understand or describe. He shows, plans or not, and two confused souls come together for a rare moment as father and son.

And those moments are golden. Against all fears and uncertainties, regardless of their flaws, every moment is golden. Precious memories are formed and hurriedly stored in a secret place, stored and saved and readied for darker days. And for a rare moment, the man so distant and lost no longer feels broken.  He sees himself through the lens of a capable father, sees himself able to bring happiness to a precious man in waiting, and he rejoices. Young, smiling eyes wipe his tears clean. Giddy laughter replaces his screams. His failings, all of them, fall away, and all things upside down in his life are temporarily turned upright.

But then time expires. The ending for visitation rights comes. The afternoon concludes, and father and son, still two souls both lost and confused, separate once again. The lens held in focus for those precious moments shatters, and the man, into several thousand pieces breaks apart.

Alone once more and left with only his failings, he departs, and darker days return. Golden moments are besieged and ruined. He digs deep in search stored memories, and though he can hear the laughter and see the smiles, those memories are distorted by a fatherly lens shattered well into a thousand pieces.

And while the broken man wrestles with the idea of permanent departure, his demons overpowering, his failings overwhelming, the young man in waiting anxiously anticipates the next imperfect meeting between father and son.

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