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His odyssey was all that he left behind. In a manner of speaking, it was also all that he ever was.
My father died late into his 42nd year. I didn't cry at his funeral, nor did I speak. I simply didn't feel that it was right, after all, it wasn't actually my father they were putting into the ground.
His study, when I finally found the courage to open it, was a dusty documentation of his long-ago past. It was filled with letters to old war buddies, most of whom had long since stopped writing. It seems I was not the only one who noticed my fathers 'change'. Several of the letters spoke of subtle changes in the way he spoke, carried himself, ate even. For all his need to keep records, I could not for the life of me find any reply to these letters.
The sad, lonely grandfather clock announced midday. I pried open the top drawer of his huge oaken desk. The inside smelled like pine needles and brought back memories of burning Christmas trees. There was a yellowed envelope resting on top of a stack of journals. Aside from its coloration, the envelope was untouched by so many of the obvious markers of desolation. no dust lay upon its smooth surface and no holes were chewed in it by passersby mice. More than slightly intrigued, I took it from the drawer, flipping it in my hands. A neat scrawl on the reverse bore a name I knew well, my own: 'Jude'. My fingers now quivering a little, I reached for a dull, blunted letter opener and slid open the parcel. I emptied it onto the desk, pulling up the large seat in the center of the room.
What sat on the desk before me was not as unusual as I had expected, that is not too say that it was not unusual. No, that's wrong. Perhaps I only found it odd because I knew my father. I looked closely at the contents of the envelope: A letter, folded three times; His Dog-Tags and several coins bearing standards I know nothing of.
- "My son; in time you will learn of things that I have seen. In time you will come to know the fear I knew, the fear I know now was irrational. Fear, you see, should be used as a tool. to aid in the creation of a rationale in times of desperation. Fear then, is useless against things that cannot be explained away. Things which I saw, and which I hope you shall never truly comprehend.
- Your father;
That was all he wrote, the other items in the envelope were nothing more than simple keepsakes, to keep hold of unattentive minds. After reading the letter, i tried my best, with some external aid, to piece together what exactly had changed my father. Theory after theory, each more insane than the last. Each time, I, more willing to accept some insanity as truth.
Then, years after my fathers death, my mother remarried. I grew to know the new man. He was respectable enough, made an honest living and had served in the military at one point. His name was Richard. Slowly, his demeanor changed. He became less social and despite his excellent health, he was constantly bedridden. All of this screamed horrid familiarity in the back of my mind. I played over and over again the memories of my fathers funeral, my mothers vehement refusal to enter the chapel.
I also remember, with a chill in my spine, the strange face she wore in the broken pools of water after the funeral.
No, a grin.