So here it is; the prologue of the novel I used to work on few months ago. Hope to get a chance to continue writing again! So happy to share this with you all, hope you guys like it! Happy reading! 🙂
My job as a lifeguard is very challenging but yet I would say.. somehow rewarding. In all honesty, I never really wanted this kind of job. As a kid, I’ve always pictured myself as someone who wears different kinds of corporate attires for work. I imagined myself owning a pad or renting an apartment in a city, working on business plans, attending meetings and conventions, grabbing a cup of coffee on my way to work, and other stuff that a businessman or at least an office clerk usually does. Looking back at it, I don’t actually know if that was what I pictured myself or if that was just the kind of person I wished to be. But who am I to dream about these things? What stupid company would accept an applicant who didn’t even get to finish college? At 30, not making a way to continue studies was still one of my biggest regrets in life– just one out of the hundred. There are so many things I wish I had done during my twenties– things that I wish I had done right.
For the past five years, I’ve spent every single day of my life at the beach. On the evenings, I am always with my best friend, or shall I say my one and only friend, Edward Coleman– aside from Dennis, my dog. We usually spend the night at the resort’s restaurant with a beer, steak and a cob of corn. We never really bothered about the food charges for Edward is the only son of the restaurant’s owner– which automatically makes him an owner, as well. We eat anything we want whenever we feel like it. His dad was one of my father’s close friends back when he was still alive. Mr. and Mrs. Coleman are the most sympathetic people I know. Ever since my father was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago, they always offered to shoulder some of the hospital bills we cannot shell out. In the end, my father didn’t accept any support from the Coleman family. Not that my father was a complete egoistic person, it is just he didn’t want to deal with treatments anymore; in other words, he wanted to give up on life just like that. Until this moment I still do not know how did I get to handle seeing him lose his life. Looking after him for five months after he was diagnosed was one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with, it seemed as if I was just watching and waiting for him to die. And the fact that I know I didn’t do anything to help him get better still breaks my heart every time it crosses my mind.
It was the morning of May 23rd, and for whatever reason, I woke up an extra hour earlier than the usual; so I decided to go for a jog with Dennis. We roamed along Kennedy drive then to the beach, hang loose for a while, then went straight back home. I got back to the house at exactly 7:16, fourteen minutes before my father wakes up. Just the right amount of time for me to prepare his favorite breakfast– scrambled eggs, pork sausage and slices of tomato on the side. My dad used to do our meals every single day for twenty three years, but when we discovered his disease, I took over most of the house chores and some errands he usually does for I wanted him to feel physically eased and relaxed at all times especially when I’m around. It was my time to give back and help out.
I went to his room instantly after finishing his breakfast; I didn’t find him in his bed, so I left the plate on his table thinking he might be in the bathroom. Shouting, “Dad, your breakfast is on your table.” as I make my way out of his room, I heard him respond “Okay” just before I close the door. I decided to take a nap for a while, my body wanted to loosen up after that wearying exercise Dennis and I did earlier. After a pleasant 2-hour nap I went back to dad’s room to check on him., it was 9:45. “He should be watching the news by now”, I whispered to myself. When I entered the room, my father was nowhere to be found. And his plate of breakfast was still on the table– cold and untouched. My heart started beating fast…. “This cannot be.” I told myself. My body became weak that very minute, and my mind went empty. I rushed to the bathroom to see that my father, has been lying on the ground– lifeless. And for the first time in my life, I felt lifeless, as well.
I struggled moving on with my life without my father. I realized that he’s the only person who was with me through whatever. We might not have the father-son relationship I have always wanted, but he was the only person I trusted in my entire life. And the fact that he’s already gone still breaks my heart. I asked myself every single day for a year, “Was it my fault?” and all signs point to yes. I could have saved his life if only I stayed up the whole morning; if I spared a few minutes to wait for him to get out of the bathroom, I could’ve came to his rescue. But no, I left him alone in spite the fact that he was already weak. I always thought how difficult it was for him to cry for help, if only I was there– if only, if only, if only.
I left our house after a year and asked Mr. Coleman if I could rent the lodge near the beach for some time. I wanted to leave home for the time being; I wanted my mind to be unfilled with grief and guilt, and it won’t happen if I stay behind the house. I wasn’t planning on leaving for good; I wanted to simply free my mind. Ed straight away went along with me to the lodge. The place was nice; it was not that big, but it was enough for a single person to live in. It has a mini bathroom and kitchen, an old wooden table for two, a small cabinet for clothes, and a bunk bed. The place seemed new after all.
“You can stay here for as long as you want, dad wouldn’t mind at all.” Ed said.
“Tell him I said thanks. I owe your family a lot.”
“No worries. Why did you decide to move here, anyway? I mean, you have a house all to yourself.”
I really didn’t want to move out, my dad left all his possessions to me; his savings, the house and everything in it. But for some reason, I just cannot seem to find a way to get back on track again. My father was 55 and I was 24 when he left– old enough to start my own life. But after my dad died, it seemed as if he took my aspirations and fortitude with him. At the first few months, I tend to imagine how life would be if my mother didn’t leave. How different would it be to have her by my side as I grow up; how different would it be to have a “mother”. I never get to hear anything about her from my dad. When I was still a teenager, I remember asking him some basic stuff about my mom like what her name is, where she lives, is she still alive etc. but he always responded with “Your mom left us because she didn’t like the life she was living. That is all you need to know.” After that, I could easily sense the feeling of despair in his eyes. I never really bothered asking him about how he feels about it, for I know that it will just remind him of all the bad things my mom has done– to him, to us.
Instead, I tried looking for information by myself. In my junior year in high school, there was a week where I immediately went home after class dismissal, only to try to investigate information about my mother while my father was out for work. I used to look over his things, evidently without his permission. I accidentally found this medium box hidden under his table inside his room; an old treasure box-like wrapped in a small yellow blanket, latched with old, dirty ribbon. I have never seen that box before, and I have no idea what’s inside it. It got me curious as to why my father wrapped it, and hid it (placed, rather) under his table. I opened it purely out of curiosity and all I saw was a couple of sealed envelopes addressed to Melinda Tarlov but without any address. There were also some photos of two ladies inside the box; not sure if one of them is my mother, but I find both of them really beautiful. There was this photo of my dad with the other lady taken at Key Largo beach sometime in 1983; his hand placed around the lady’s waist, and the two them seemed really happy at that moment. In my twenty four years of existence, I would say that was the only time I saw my father smile like that, and it got me smiling, too. Looking at the photo, I began to think that this lady might be my mother. I didn’t see any resemblance in our looks, though; but a lot of people have been telling me ever since I was a child that I look exactly just like my dad. During that night, I thought about asking my dad again about my mother, but I didn’t want to see him looking forlorn again. Again, it left me pondering on the mystery of my mom, but this time I was wishing for one thing– to meet her.
I continued working at the Coleman’s as a lifesaver the day after I moved to their property. It was a usual day for me at the beach; scorching weather, children running everywhere and women in swimsuits. It was the third week of summer, and the beach looked extra packed that afternoon. I forced my mind to wander off for a second, then a lady in a long blue beach dress came up to me and asked, “Excuse me mister, pardon my ignorance but are there sharks out in that water?” pointing at the ocean, I smiled and replied “Not in this place, but some do. Prolific areas include almost any around Australasia, South Africa and some places in the Eastern Coast of the USA.” The lady looking all shocked and somehow confused “..but Florida is in East Coast” that made me chuckle a little, “Shark attacks happen in Florida waters, however they are extremely rare considering the number of people who enter Florida waters each year. Besides, sharks can’t go near the shore so no worries.” She bit her lower lip and gave a nod in return, “Thanks for that info.” She smiled then turned away. I went back to my zone and took my seat, but just before my butt touch the chair I felt tap on my back.
“One more question Sir, have you seen a shark before?” the same lady again. “In pictures.” She chuckled, but then gave me a serious look in a flash. “Just kidding, no I have not. And you?” I continued.
“No, and I don’t want to see an actual one. But, uhm, do you mind if I ask your name so that I could, uhm, report you to the head of department just in case a shark shows up right in front of me?” The lady I’m talking to seems like the same age as me but why does it feel like I am conversing with a kid? Was she even serious when she said that? “Zach, people know me here as Zach.” I replied, still. She took her phone from her purse and I could see her fingers typing in my name– she must be serious about this thing. “Your name must be Zachary.” she said.
“Yes, Zachary Parker. My name is Zachary Parker.” I replied.