The Ones That Care For Me

The food smelled so good on the barbecue. Danny was grilling some steaks, shrimp kebabs, and a whole smorgasbord of tasty treats. It seemed like the longer he cooked, the more people showed up to the house. Scott was behind the bar mixing drinks. It was such a lively sight. 

“How does it feel to finally win that award?” Sasha, my best friend, asked. 

“Well, uh, I guess I’m still lost for words,” I stammered. I wasn’t expected to win, let alone have my friends throw me a surprise congratulatory party. Sure, I’d been busting my ass off to get my art off the ground and noticed, but I never expected to win such a prestigious award. 

“Such a good way to end that slump of last year.” God, Sasha was right. I went through two breakups, a family death, and a bout with writer’s block due to the black hole of depression I had fallen into. 

“I mean I guess it wasn’t all that bad. I did find the inspiration to make that album,” I replied.

“True,” she said with a smile.

The night was in full swing, but I yearned for some fresh air. I got a drink from Scott and headed outside. Just then my phone rung.

“Hello?” I answered. 

“Hey, congratulations.” I didn’t recognize the number or voice. 

“Thanks, but um, may I ask who this is?”

“Alex. Your dad.” 

My blood stopped cold. 

“Look, uh, I know it’s been a while—“

“How the fuck did you get my number?” I wasn’t angry, just very confused. 

“Your mom gave it to me before she died. I guess I got too nervous to call.”

Silence. I didn’t know what to say.

“I just wanted to say congratulations on winning a Grammy. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks.” So Mom gave him my number. I still felt numb and not sure of what to say. This guy ran out on us when I was ten years old. Sure there were very brief moments where he’d let me know he was alive, but I never felt the need to bond with him. I just chalked him up to a be deadbeat father that I shouldn’t try to reconnect with. 

“I was just wondering if you’d like to see each other again, make up for lost time. I know you’re a celebrity now and all—“

“Don’t ever call me again. I don't want to reconnect. My mother was all the family I needed.”  The words emptied from my mouth before my brain could process them. But since I was already going…

“I have friends that love me, I have people that wouldn’t think of abandoning me the way you did. So if you truly care about me, lose my number and live your life. Goodbye.”

I hung up the phone and promptly put it on my block list. I wish I had said more, had thought of something extremely hurtful to say. But I didn’t. If this had been a few years ago, I probably would have been more forgiving. If he had called last year, I definitely would have spat words laced with venom on every consonant. But now…

I looked at the phone and for the first time, I felt nothing. No crying, no sadness. I looked out into the horizon and a smile crept over my face. All I could think about was my mom and how happy I am that she stayed in my life. And now I was surrounded by friends, good drinks, and awesome food. 

“Hey, come back to the party. You might want to get you a kebab before they’re all gone.”

“I’ll be right there, Danny” I replied with a chuckle.