Ancient Measures

By: Tammy

Summary: Challenge #1. Darcy Tucker's father is dying. Roadtrip!

Characters: Darcy Tucker, Shayne Corson

Rating: R, for language

AN: Yes, I know. Terrible summary and things like this shouldn't be written about. But terrorists caused my flight to get cancelled, and I read The Tortured Soul of Darcy Tucker (scroll down and read) which provided fodder and a ridiculous, overly dramatic tone for this fic. Read the article even if you don't read the fic. If stories about players' families squick you out, don't read.


"The hardest thing about all this losing is I don't know how to deal with it." - Tucker, on the Lightning's losing streak (2/3/98)


“Flight’s cancelled.”

“Oh.” Good, you finish in your head. “I guess that’s that.”

Shayne wraps an arm around your shoulders, concerned. Right. That’s probably the appropriate emotion. “Don’t worry, Darce, we’ll find another way there.” But you shove off his arm, frustrated, and though it’s not concern, you know that frustration is at least acceptable. You can get away with frustration; Shayne won’t really think anything of it. You’re clearly just frustrated that you can’t get to your father’s bedside quickly enough.

“If the flight is cancelled, it’s fucking cancelled. Nothing we can do, so we’ll just. Sit here.”

“What? Are you fucking crazy? We’ll just drive there. The roads aren’t blocked.”

Fucking Shayne and his… fucking logical solutions. “I’m not sure that’s,” and you clear your throat, attempting verklempt, “necessary. He’ll be fine. Strong son of a bitch and all. Farmer. He can’t die.”

Shayne sighs, patting your back, because he thinks you’re in denial. Darcy shoots, he scores! “I know you don’t want to think that he could—“ and you half-cough, half-laugh, and he looks stricken and pulls you closer. Because, of course, you must have choked up at even the mention of any vulnerability (like, being mortal) within your father. Your ailing father. Of course, the thought of your father being anything less than his usual, strong self must be killing you.

“I’ll drive,” he says. That’s one less burden he wants you to have. Shayne’s always been caring. Thoughtful.

You know your father’s sick. You know that if he doesn’t get better, eventually he’ll die. But it’s still hard to wrap that around your brain. Because legends never die. Heroes never die.

And in the horror movies, neither do the killers.


Shayne fiddles with the radio because God forbid the two of you sit in silence. You crack corn nuts with your teeth. They taste fucking terrible and you blame Shayne.

Everyone knows beef jerky is the prized item at the gas station.


“I wish somebody had been with me.”

You stop staring at the nothing outside your window, and look at Shayne.

“You know, when I had to go back and see my dad.” If this was anybody else you’d expect a self-conscious grin. But this is Shayne and Shayne’s never been afraid to reveal these kinds of details. Sometimes it’s unnerving and you want to punch him in the face so he’ll learn that he’s crossed a line. “I was on a plane and I was the only one that knew. I was just this guy on an airplane to all of them. I wanted--I wanted to punch them all in the head.” At this, you smile. “Just ‘cause I wasn’t, you know? Just a guy. I had all this shit going on and… It just sucked.”

Your feet crinkle the plastic corn nuts’ wrappers on the floor mats. He looks at you expectantly. “Yeah,” you offer.

Shayne’s practically your brother, so you forget sometimes that you don’t share the same father.

Shayne forgets this too, projecting his own father and their relationship onto you and your father. You both loved and idolized your fathers, but Shayne and his father kissed freely, talked jovially about Shayne’s game. Their relationship lacked the edge of competition that yours is swathed in. While Shayne may have played for his father, you’re more or less living your father’s dream. Which always complicates things. Mr. Corson’s dream was for his son to make it into the NHL and become a great player. Your father’s dream was to make it into the NHL and become a great player. So there are always moves or plays you regret making (or not making), but there’s a different dynamic involved knowing that had your father been in your stead he most definitely wouldn’t have made those decisions.

You play to be the skater your father would have been. Dale Hunter? Please. Dale Tucker. Passion, heart, effort, dedication, loyalty, accountability. Old school. You are always aware, however, that you mostly fail at this endeavor. But you try.

Half a Dale Tucker is still better than most.


The radio ebbs in and out, and Shayne glares at it. The radio’s, obviously, being a vindictive bitch or something.

You bite your nails ragged, and your thumb starts to bleed when Shayne passes a Pontiac Tempest going 85 in a 90 zone.


Shayne stops for lunch. He chooses a fast food restaurant because the two of you are clearly in a rush.

“Uh. A number two, with a coke.”

Shayne pays because Shayne paid for gas and the snacks, and well. You ignore this, and the two of you sit in a corner, stuffing your faces. He calls Shannon while you take a piss, and you know she’s probably troubled by the fact that you left her and the kids at home. He’s their grandfather—their family, too.

You take the keys from him when you guys leave. You can drive; you don’t need to be completely taken care of, chauffeured around like an old person or something.

“Is it true,” he starts, “that your father once kicked you out of the car for diving in a game?”

You survey the consequences of this conversation before answering. “I was ten. We had an argument.”

Shayne thinks this is wild, mouth open and turned up into a strange smile. “Wow, seriously?” His father probably felt bad about dropping Shayne off in the horse-shoe turnaround in the parking lot of the rink, fearing Shayne would get lost or kidnapped.

“Yeah, it was after a night game. He thought I was...exaggerating,” you finally settle on. “So he threw me out, and I walked home.”


“It was thirty miles. Snowing. But I managed to flag down our neighbor’s tractor, luckily. The doctor said I might have died of exposure otherwise. Still came down with pneumonia, though.” Shayne’s eyes widen. “But my dad made me go to practice anyway. Said I was…exaggerating.”

“Holy shit! Honestly?”

“No, you fuck!” You wrench the car over to the side of the road and hit the brakes, launching Shayne forward until his seatbelt restrains him. “What kind of father do you think my dad is? He stopped the car fifty feet ahead of where he let me out.”

“Oh,” he says, rubbing his chest and pulling his seatbelt away from his skin.

“Fuck you! Fuck you for thinking that about my dad. Get the fuck out my car!” You slam your hands on the steering wheel, and he just sits there until you unfasten his seatbelt and start pushing him against the car door. “Get out, get out, get out of my fucking car!” His fingers feel for the door handle and eventually he does get out even though it is actually his car.

You roll down the window and scream, “You fuck!” because you aren’t smarter than that, as you peel out and onto the road again.

Fifty feet down the way you pull over and wait for Shayne to catch up. You’re smiling when he climbs into the car, but he doesn’t get it.


Shayne’s apologetic and offers you a stick of gum.

You roll your eyes when you realize it’s watermelon-flavored Bubble Yum.


Your father is the only person in the world who can scare you. There are plenty of things that scare you—earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, car accidents, blindness that threaten to rip your family away from you--but other people don’t scare you.

You have always feared your father, starting with the wide palm of his hand and his belt when you were a kid, and then his disappointment and sigh as you grew older.

It is, of course, impossible to please your father. That’s the entire point. He never wants you to stop maturing as a player or person. He wants to set the bar higher everyday so that you’re always striving to become better. A farmer never has a day off, and so no matter how many millions you make neither will you. You’ll kill yourself the day you decide you’re good enough as is.

Possibly your father will help you out if you ever display such arrogance. Learn something new everyday, is what he told you when you were a boy and helping him move bales of hay. Same work every day, but you learned better, more efficient ways of doing daily chores, and perhaps learned a few things about yourself as well.

“He gave you a boot to the ass because you dropped a bale of hay?”

“He didn’t actually kick me.” But he had. Shayne seems to be pondering your words, ticking checklists off in his head and presuming he knows why he only met your father at the wedding. That’s not why, though.

“And you used to have cow milking races with your dad?”

“My mom and brother too,” you add. Anything could become a competition.

“What’d you play for?”

You raise an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“What kind of prize would you get if you won?”

“No prize.”

He makes a noise, a bewildered smile on his face. “Then what’s the point?”

“To fucking milk the cows.”

“No, of racing. You just sat down at your little stool and raced down the line with a bucket for nothing?”

You shake your head in disbelief. Sometimes you think Shayne is retarded. “We had almost a hundred cows. We used a fucking machine.”


Inexplicably, you find yourself on the side of the road once again. You throw up your burger and fries and Shayne’s fucking corn nuts. He offers you more Bubble Yum and you very nearly strangle him.


There’s something about pummeling a guy or slamming him into the boards that never gets old. Putting your hands on another man and pushing into him, bending him to your will.

Shayne finds a hotel because it’s 5 p.m. and your body refuses to move. You’re possibly in Manitoba, maybe Saskatchewan. Straddling the imaginary line or something. Your body feels like it’s shutting down.

Shayne’s supposed to be the one who gets panic attacks.

He puts a cold washcloth on your forehead and it feels so nice, and you’re grateful, really, which you’re not sure is properly conveyed to Shayne because after he lays it on your head you hit him and then slam him onto the mattress. “Don’t,” you say with your fists in his shirt, warm against his chest.

You let go when he apologizes because you’re afraid you’ll mangle his face. You move to the other bed. “This was a mistake. Let’s just go back. I’ve got fucking food poisoning.”

“You don’t have food poisoning, idiot.”

“Fine, I’m fucking car sick.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Well, not now because I’m fucking out of the car.”

He rolls his eyes. “You weren’t carsick when you—“

“Don’t mother fucking tell me I wasn’t carsick. You saw me throw up your God damn corn nuts.”

He sighs. “I just meant—“

“Shut up before I puke on you.”

He doesn’t say anything and that annoys you even more.

“What? So now you’re not talking to me anymore?” you bark out five minutes later.

“You told me to shut up!” And he chucks a pillow at you. Lame choice as per usual for Shayne and you throw the hotel bible at his stomach. He groans and throws another pillow. The boy definitely had sisters growing up.

“Let’s just go back, Shayne,” you say, pressing your fingers into your eye sockets as hard as you can stand.

“You’ll regret it if you don’t see him.” The bed dips and he sits next to you. “It was hard seeing my dad in the end, but I’m so grateful now that—“

“I don’t care.”

Shayne shakes his head, putting a hand on your arm. “No, but you will care—“ Shayne stops when you look at him. It’s a look you perfected from your father.

“No, I don’t care that your father’s dead because it has nothing to do with this. My father isn’t dying,” you grind out. Your face is burning and you feel the heat traveling down your arms and into your clenched fists, and you’re so very afraid that you’ll have to call your wife and explain why you beat her brother senseless.

“Oh, Darcy,” and there’s so much condescension and pity and sadness and love, and you wish this was just a game and he’d taken a run at your team’s star player. That would make things so much easier.

Brothers are supposed to fight side by side, your father said after he hit you for beating up Dwight. “But he broke my lucky stick,” and he smacked you for daring to believe that luck was a fluky thing that wasn’t derived from time spent on the ice or in the weight room. He bought you new sticks and proclaimed them “working sticks.”

So it’s only your desire to garner respect from your father that allows Shayne to escape unscathed.

You grab your overnight bag and tell him to return the keys and meet you in the parking lot. “We’re going to the fucking farm and I’m going to show you, asshole.”


You wait in the parking lot with the air conditioning on. Cold humid air pumps in. This weather sucks, you think.


You make Shayne drive at night while you sleep. He’s had three cups of coffee and his hands shake just like his smile. “No problem, Darcy. I can drive.”

Dale. Darcy. Dwight. Same letter, alphabetical, chronological order. Your wife thought it was sweet, but told you before you two ever married that there would be no more ‘d’ names. You like that Cole and Cain’s names precede yours—‘c’ before ‘d’, and you like to think that this is symbolic of putting your sons ahead of yourself always. But Shannon chose the names, and wrote them on the cards to give to the nurses as well after the debacle with Owynn. “But I thought that’s how we were going to spell it,” you protested when she fumed over the birth certificate.

Shayne runs over a pothole or pavement marker. “Whee! Heh heh,” he says. You stare at him. He cannot be serious.

“You’re fucking out of your mind.”

“I just. It’s boring with you asleep. I have to entertain myself.”

“Botts’ dots. Brilliant.”

Your father and mother came to every game possible when you were younger. Your dad always drove and he’s the smoothest gear shifter in the family. If you weren’t up front in the truck with dad talking about the game, then you were in the backseat, asleep with your brother. The ride was always smooth.

“What’s the first thing you remember about your father ever?” Twenty questions with Shayne Corson.

You shrug. “His hands.”

“His hands?”

“Yeah, I remember thinking they were really fucking big.”

Shayne runs over some more dots. Thup. Thup. Thup. “Liar.”

“I see you’re finally starting to catch on.” You exhale, stare at him a moment before asking. “What’s the last thing you remember about your dad?”

“Um. I don’t know.”

Shayne doesn’t lie.

You reach for previous conversations, because you’re only fearless on the ice. “Because it… just sucked?”

He smiles at you. “No. Well, yes. It did. But, um, I just forget stuff. Things get kind of hazy after awhile.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Mmm.” Thup. Thup. Thup. Shayne eases the car away from the raised lines.

“Did you know that if you drop dead in your house that eventually your cat will start to eat you?” Random facts with Darcy Tucker. “A dog wouldn’t. He’d lay by your side and starve to death.” Thup. Thup. Thup. “I never told Shannon that’s why I bought a dog. Because I couldn’t imagine coming home from a road trip and finding…her being cat food.”

Shayne takes a moment. Thup. Thup. Thup. “That’s so fucked up, Darce.” And you grin, baring all teeth.

“Yeah, but. When I was little our dog bit me. So my dad took it outside and shot it. I thought he was a terrible dad. That’s probably my first memory. Thinking he was terrible.”

“Mmm.” Thup. Thup. Thup.


Shayne yawns and pulls into a shopping centre parking lot, and the two of you sleep for a few hours.

You thrash around and wake up, a film of sweat all over. You feel disgusting and trade places with Shayne, driving while he sleeps.


Shayne is calling his kids, laughing low under his breath and speaking sweetly. He uses a different voice for each one and the lack of baby talk surprises you. He’s softer and slower, but manages not to sound condescending. He is warm and comforting, guiding and protecting like all fathers should be.

But then, his children are older than yours so he wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to speak to them like babies. His wife still coddles the eldest, though, so maybe it is just a Shayne thing to treat his children like his friends. His wife baby talks your dog too, so maybe it’s just a Kelley thing to speak in high pitched gibberish.

“The kids say ‘hi,’” he says as he flips his phone shut.

You drive until food and rest stops blur, and your hands ache. You’ve been driving for what seems like forever, but it’s probably only been five or six hours. Shayne keeps offering to drive, and his voice buzzes just outside your ear and you ignore him for the most part, unaware he’s in your periphery until his phone beeps because he’s made it to a new level on one of its games.

You’re lost in your thoughts. Thought. You keep imagining calling your mother up. You ask her how dad is, and she talks about banana cream pie. You bring up Duke and she says, “Who?” and you keep repeating, “Our dog, our dog, our dog.” Eventually, she bursts your bubble and tells you Duke had cancer and your father couldn’t afford to take it to some dang vet, no need, no need anyway because he could fix it all up, right as rain. Then she tells you Duke was a cat, and that blows your mind and you begin the conversation anew, looping through it all again and sometimes Duke is a turtle, sometimes Duke is really Dwight, sometimes your father shoots you in the face and everything after, all this, your NHL career, your wife, your family, Shayne in this car with you, you imagining conversations is actually just heaven.

Shayne says, “You smell,” so you pull off the road and let Shayne direct you to a hotel.

Later in bed, freshly scrubbed, you say, “It’s been a while since we’ve done this.”

“I don’t think we’ve ever done this.”

“Roommates on the road, I mean.”

He turns on the television, because the older vet always gets the remote. He turns on the news and you fight back a groan. He’s looking at you, though, so he frowns and says, “I care about the news.”

“Since when?”

“Since now.”

Right. You try to listen to the news report like a good grownup but find yourself looking around the room instead. Eventually, you settle on Shayne’s half-naked form because it reminds you of home. Hotel rooms always make you ache. When you reached the Bantam level you were forced to leave home, and you cried every night you were gone. Somebody made fun of you and you learned how to cry without tears. Then you learned not to cry, but you still hate hotels and being away from your family.

In Montreal, two months after you met, Shayne confessed that he cried when he first left home. You called him a pussy. And yet, he remained your friend.

“You look confused.”

“Well, uh, I thought they declared peace in the Middle East.”

You laugh out loud and Shayne glares at you. You laugh until the tears are streaming down your face. Shayne is stupidly caring and tries to comfort you. You hit him, still crying.

Surprisingly, he hits you back. He is frustrated, annoyed, “Goddammit, Darcy, stop being such a jackass! Why are you acting like this?” He is speaking to you as if you are one of his children.

You slam the bathroom door behind you, effectively ending the conversation. You look at yourself in the mirror and, Christ, you look old. The stubble doesn’t help. You look like your father.

Shayne’s watching cartoons when you come out.

Shayne’s father was 17 when he was born. Your father was eighteen. Paul died when he was 45, and in five years Shayne will be older than his father ever was.

Maybe you’ll smother Shayne with a pillow tonight.


Shayne takes over driving duties the next morning. He turns off the radio because reception is only picking up country, and the two of you talk. You talk about hockey, you talk about fishing, you talk about your kids, you talk about closet space, you talk about sexy underwear on hot chicks, you talk about action movies. Millions of conversations and it’s never been difficult to hold a conversation with Shayne. The two of you have been talking and laughing since you met and distance is the only thing that interrupts your conversations.

You’ve been talking about everything, the entire road trip, and, yet, it feels like you’ve barely spoken. You think back and all you can recall are the snippets involving fathers—yours and Shayne’s. Everything else melts away and you struggle to remember. Two brothers. Two fathers.

Four fathers, you correct.


You make it to the farm in record time; supper is probably on the table. Your mother comes outside when she hears the car.

“Hey, mom.”

She smiles and hugs you, wet dishtowel still in hand, and you can feel it on your shoulder and back. “Oh, it’s so good of you to come,” she says to Shayne.

“Mrs. Tucker,” and he kisses her on her cheek.

Your mom talks about pie and oh, you just missed supper, dear, and she’s ushering you into the kitchen. You stare at the hallway just beyond and ask about dad.

“Him? He’s fine.”

“Dwight said the doctor told him—“

“Who you gonna believe—some doctor or your mother?” She waves a spatula at you.

You blush. “You, mom.”

“He’s just tired, that’s all. He’s watching TV. Shayne’ll help me with the pie. You go on.”

You want to take your shoes off and run your bare feet on the floors of your childhood, but you restrain yourself. Your dad is sitting in his chair and your mom is right—he does look tired. But he’s arguing with the TV so that at least hasn’t changed.

“What’re you doing here?” But he, at least, looks happy to see you.

“Just went out for a drive with Shayne.”

“Hmph.” He watches you, regarding you carefully. “Your mother call you?”


He gives you a look, warning you not to underestimate him like your brother had. “How’s Shannon and my grandkids?” Years ago, he would have said something about Dwight and you’d have joined him, because it was always better to side with dad.

“Good.” Shayne’s been the one talking to your wife. You’re such a schmuck sometimes.

“And the little one?”

“Cain.” And you’re fumbling for your wallet, showing him pictures that your wife has already sent. Your father makes jokes about brothers and the bible, and this is absurd, your father talking about the mark of Cain.

You interrupt him, and tell him you’re going to give Shayne a tour of the farm tomorrow morning.

He stops smiling and hands your wallet back. “I don’t need your help. Everything’s under control.” You make a motion to interrupt him again, but he keeps talking. “I’ve been doing this all my life. I know how to run a farm better than you.”

Shayne and your mom walk in and hand out plates.

“Shouldn’t you be on a diet?” your father asks before you take your first bite. “You don’t want to show up out of shape to camp.” He pokes you in the gut and laughs. “Don’t worry, son.” And he literally reaches over with his fork and scrapes your piece of pie onto his plate. You glance over at Shayne and he looks amused. You feel like a kid again, fuming and frustrated, wanting a piece of pie.

“Shayne and Darcy drove all this way because Darcy couldn’t get a plane ticket,” your mom announces to your father. You sit and you wait for it.

“Very nice of you to take care of Darcy and bring him home.” You want to punch your father in his face.

“Oh, no problem. I knew how much he wanted to come and visit.” Shayne takes a bite of pie and you want to kick him in the head.

“You ever been on a farm before, son?” Your father is talking about the layout of the farm, offering you up as a tour guide. He glances at you and then tells Shayne about your favorite hiding spots, the barn you hit pucks against for hours. Soon, though, he is explaining cattle and grain. Shayne nods, uninterested. You lived on a farm and don’t give a fuck about cattle.

Shayne stares at your father, learning about milking parlors and colostrum, and you want to interrupt. Your father is not just an old man who sits in a chair and eats your banana cream pie and talks like a dairy producer. He is not cliché and boring; he is awesome. He’s wise and knowledgeable. On a better day he could probably kick your ass. He’s funny. He is strong with a good head on his shoulders. He loves your mom. He is everything, he is the reason you are. He can be an ornery son of a bitch, but he knows how to push you, make you better and all your stories, all your words convey none of this. Shayne knows your father kicked you out of a car once, kicked you in the ass for dropping hay, made you race for no prizes. He doesn’t get it though. And you wonder how you can make him see. You want him to know how great your father is, because he has always told you how awesome his was.

But you already knew because you had met Shayne and Shannon and love them both. You’re not sure if you reflect your father, if Shayne can see the man that raised you.

This visit isn’t going as planned.


You sleep in your old bed and Shayne sleeps in Dwight’s. You wake up at dawn and can’t wait to go home.


Shayne leans against the barn door. You had tried unsuccessfully to get him to leave the farm before your parents woke up. “He seems fine,” he says. “Other than the cough.”


“Um. Fine? Cough? Green gross mucous?”

You give a curt nod, wondering why you hadn’t noticed.

“I’ve seen younger guys who’ve had pneumonia looking worse. Your brother must exaggerate.”

“Dwight does that.”

“Your mom doesn’t. Those were the best pancakes I’ve ever had.” But he must be wondering why you hadn’t just called your mom and asked her, who said he was fine last night. You had, though. She was at the hospital and said everything was fine, but you had panicked.

“Okay, you’ve had the pancakes. Can we go now?”

“What? Why?” He moves closer, and you make room.

“Please. He’s fine. Let’s just go.”

“But your dad’s gonna tell me—“

“Look, we came this far because I wanted to prove a point. I proved it. Can we just go home now? We’d have been home days ago.” His shoulder is against your own, and when he turns to speak to you, you can feel his breath on your neck. “I miss my kids.” You never wanted to take this trip and, now, midpoint you don’t know what the point of it was at all--you’re clueless to the why. You’re missing signals, looking for signs in the wrong places. His breath is on your neck, and you turn into his body—he is your older brother and he should know more than you. He should know better than to ask. “Please.”

He hugs you and says, okay.


Shayne drives and you sleep the whole way home.


You are ten years old again, lost and alone in a world of white, and your father has left you. There are a thousand conversations you can replay in your head, but your chest hitches and all you can think is that he left you and the last thing he said was that he was disappointed in you, Darcy, how could you, and telling you to get out of his sight, Darcy, I can’t stand to look at you.

You are not my son, reverberating in your head and you’re on your knees, snow soaking through, wetness weighing your pants down, wetness pulling your face down. Your father has left you and you are ten years old, and there was so much more he was supposed to teach you.

It’s not fair, because the kid really did slash your ankle and it really hurt and you just wanted to make extra sure the referee would see you. Your coach, your father, didn’t give you the ice time you deserved even though you worked far harder than anyone else on the team and always finished your chores at home. You helped your mother and took care of Dwight, who is a poor substitute for Duke, because Duke licked your face and listened to your commands and slept at your feet, and mostly Dwight just whines and cries and gets away with so much more than you ever could.

And if you could only be on the ice for limited time then you had to make it count and help the team. A power play late in the game would surely help the team. Team first, is what your father always said.

“You are not my son,” but that is your father--your father pulling away, tires crunching the snow.

You cannot even be angry with him because you are so desperate to be with him. Deep down you know he is right (but you are still not sure if you were wrong), and you wasted your last conversation arguing with him when you should have been asking for advice. You should have asked how to survive without him.

Please, you say to no one, because you are on the side of the road, stranded. Your mittens, Calgary Flames red, stand out against the snow. The snow melts beneath your hands. Two years ago your father took you to see Lanny McDonald at a jewelry store. He signed your hat and you thought, “My hero.” You were so dumb and star struck then, and now you know it was your father all along who was your hero.

You force yourself to breathe and wipe the tears off your face, batting at your cheeks with your mittened hands like a kitten. You stand up, prepared to be the man your father always wanted you to be. You are alone, but his lessons and his blood run through you. Eventually, you will be strong like him, but for now you’ll fake it.

Ten years old and your father has left you, and you stand up, prepared to be a man.

You are stunned when you look up and see your father’s truck fifty feet ahead of you. Perhaps this is the first test, you think. A cruel joke your eyes are playing on you. You are only ten years old, though, so you sprint towards it. The handle feels real under your hands and you open the door to see your father staring at you.

You are breathing through your mouth, chest heaving, a million things in your head because you have just been given back your father and this was all you wanted and all you prayed for five minutes ago and Jesus really delivered (unlike Santa Claus who gave your family Dwight and still hadn’t shown up with a bike) and the ache in your heart is gone. You are so grateful.

“Well,” your father says, waiting for you to get in, waiting for you to admit that you were wrong and that he was right, waiting for you to realize that everything he does has a hand in ultimately creating the person that you will become. You don’t know what to say.

All you can think is—



AN2: Yes, I do indeed like the movie Clueless.
AN3: I always thought Darcy was a girl's name. Still do.
AN4: According to wikipedia, the mark of Cain meant Cain should not be killed until he had seven generations of children. Bern gave me the title. There is a poem by Bill Knott by the same name:

As much as someone could plow in one day
They called an acre;
As much as a person could die in one instant
A lifetime--