Journal: Checking the Locks

(Writing this on my phone, so apologies for errors; they happen. Also apologies I haven’t been back much since the 18th; been a bit busy, and I still lack a computer.)

My flatmates, bless their little cotton socks, are worried if we get a burglar, we’ll all be too apathetic to get up and use the cane sword to kick them out (this tells you instantly about the sort of people I live with).

I’m not concerned. Because I remember when I had a choice between apathy and action, I chose action.

It was late last year; I was living with my dad, trying to sleep, when I heard a loud bang.

My first thought was that the front door had slammed.

Then I thought ‘but KNOW what the front door slamming sounds like, and it doesn’t sound like that’.

In spite of my warm, comfy bed, I was unnerved. So I got up.

I was right.

My father had fallen down a flight of stairs and banged his head against a wall, and that was the sound I heard.

I spent the next half hour calling an ambulance (once it became clear my father could not actually stand) as well as my brothers, and if you want a definition for ‘the exact moment you realize your parent is mortal’ it’s the moment you’re having your hand in a pool of their blood, pressing a teatowel to their wound.

The rest of the night, in my memory, fades to blurs; sleeping standing up against a wall in the hospital A&E, watching my father get the back of his head stitched up, heading home with my brother and heading early into uni despite my lack of sleep because there was a meeting for prospective honours students. The night itself is less a concrete thing and more a series of vignettes, cemented by the moment a Hunter Lounge employee I rather like hears about the incident and hands me a double shot long black, to help me wake up enough for my afternoon classes. She does not charge me extra.

That night ends up being the beginning of a long series of odd, heartwrenching moments to come, and even then, the moment that still stands out, that still shakes me to the core, is lying in bed hearing the sound, because “what if”s work both ways.

What if I hadn’t heard my father fall?

What if I had gone back to bed?

What if I hadn’t gone up all the stairs and seen him?

What if I hadn’t managed to get in touch with my brothers?

What if I hadn’t heard my father fall?

Nights like that haunt you. I find myself waking up at strange noises and checking, just to make sure everyone is safe. When I still lived with him, I would check on my father several times before I could sleep peacefully.

I don’t think this part of my personality is going to fade any time soon.

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