“Get her in, they’ll be coming soon.“ Those were the first words I remember my father saying, the first I understood anyway. maybe not what they meant, not then.
To be honest all of us kids knew we were sheltered somehow. I know I had more of a childhood than most did, and that it was due to my mom and dad’s efforts. Back then I just thought I was spoiled, you know upper crust. Like somehow I deserved the ignorance that was the true gift they gave me.
I didn’t know it by name then but it was Atonement day that day. The carbon smell of my father’s welder filled my play room and had brought me to the garage. Before that I had been watching my favorite tapes on the TV. Grandma had told me about how there used to be new shows you didn’t need tapes for. Seemed like one of her stories but I was happy with my tapes. Pressing stop, I walked over and opened the door to the garage to see sparks flying. That’s when dad shut the welder off and yelled at mom who I didn’t know was standing just behind me. “Get her in, they’ll be coming soon.“ he said.
I now know two things for certain. First my father had struggled for an old ideal, that of normalcy, a good wish for a father but it was a false sense of hope and led to arrogance. And second that my father was a tough sob.
Up until then dad had been caught up in the trading and growing of crops and the dream of a real life for my sister Lisa and me. Maybe it snuck up on him that year or maybe he was just tired, but Atonement day came.
I remember he screamed at mom to get me inside. I remember that garage where sis and my skates sat on the corner floor, laces collecting dust on cold old concrete slab. My thoughts go back to where dad’s work bench was and it’s smell of rust and oil; smells that both of which remind me of him.
You see atonement day came like it did every ten years. It was the last holy day left to us since the apocalypse. The ones that weren’t called to a better place. It was the day the demons came to separate or take those unsaved and not righteous.
I now know that day in the garage my dad had been getting iron traps ready and perfecting ol Betsy, a gas powered saw thing. I never saw him again after he yelled at me to go back in that night. I learned to fight that night too, but it was in the morning when I saw on my lawn the ripped and torn bits of demon that I knew the fight could be won.
Do I know if he could have saved mom and sis, I don’t? I know dad tried. I know if it wasn’t for his efforts and possibly those of my own I wouldn’t be here, I am still here fighting.