[This post is a little bit unusual. I have not done this on this blog before, so bear with me.
I also have to apologize for not being as organized recently as I should have. I would like to blame it on the craziness of the Christmas season, but truthfully, that is not the cause. It is my promise to you that I will try harder to publish my content in more organized ways (specific days, not skipping days, etc.).]
As some of you might have noticed, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a CW piece entitled: “Not your father“. If you have not read it, I urge you to go and do so, so that you can be on equal footing with all of us that have.
In that post, I tried really hard to emotionally connect with the audience, and I was over the moon when I saw so many positive reactions to it. One of the people who commented challenged me to write an alternate ending to that story. That is the reason for this special post. So, without further ado, I present to you a different spin on “Not your father”. (The new ending is in a different color for easier viewing.)
Emma laid in her hospital bed awaiting the inevitable death. The cancer has ravaged her insides, leaving her body as an empty shell. Her loved ones gathered around her in prayer. Prayer for her peaceful voyage to the afterlife, as well as for strength for them in dealing with the soon approaching loss of wife, mother, daughter and sister.
“C’mon guys, let us go get a snack while Em rests a bit” – said Tom to his in-laws, ushering them and his kids outside.
“I’ll be right there. I just need a minute” – Frank replied.
After all, it was his baby girl on Death’s doorstep. The majority of the time, he tried to be tough for the sake of the rest of the family, but when alone, he could not stop his tears from streaming down his cheek.
“Emmie, I have to tell you something…” – he started quietly.
She opened her heavy eyelids and looked at him with the most angelic of eyes. Even in pain, Emma was nothing but gentle and kind; unlike others who get jaded and bitter in the face of terminal illness.
“… I am not sure how to say this… but I think you should know…”
Frank felt a lump in his throat. He did not know how his daughter was going to react to the secret which his wife and him have kept from Emma her whole life. First, Mary and him did not think it was appropriate to tell her when she was just a little girl so as not to confuse and alienate her. They figured they would wait until she was grown. Years have passed, Emma turned 18 and left for college, where she met Tom and then traveled the world with him, visiting home and her parents only for the Holidays. Then everyone was all wrapped up in the wedding planning, and shortly after the big day, Emma became pregnant with her now four year old twins. The diagnosis came shortly after the birth of Jack and Jim, and it has been an uphill battle ever since. Frank knew that these were just excuses. He should have told her a long time ago. Now the time was right. He had to come clean, even if he was oh so afraid of her reaction. It was now or never. And never was not an option.
“I am not your father” – he blurted out as fast as he could, his eyes full of pain.
“Oh, Daddy…” – Emma said almost soundlessly, reaching for the glass of water on her bedside table to moisten her lips and vocal cords. She squeezed his hand and smiled gently, thinking back to a day when she met her biological father.
A few years ago, out of curiosity, she tested her DNA to find out more about her heritage, and discovered that some pieces of the puzzle did not fit. She knew Frank was not her biological father, but she never let on, because to her – it did not matter. The man sitting right in front of her at the hospital was the epitome of a father figure.
“But you ARE my Father” – she continued now that her vocal cords were generously coated with water.
“I may not be your flesh and blood, but there was never any doubt in my mind who you are to me” – Emma reassured Frank.
He did not know what to say. He wanted to ask her how she knew, but thought it was not important at that time.
“Daddy, who taught me how to ride a bike?” – she asked coyly.
“I did” – Frank answered, picturing Emma as a little girl, in her princess dress, riding a tricycle. Her pigtails wiggling from side to side as she learned to steer.
“And who made sure I had all my homework done for the next day?” – she continued.
“I did” – he answered, remembering how he would check her notebooks, urging her to write more neatly.
“Who tucked me into bed and told me stories when Mom was away on business?”
“I did.” He would tell her stories of beautiful princesses who stole men’s hearts. Just like she did his when he first saw her at 6 months old.
“And who made sure that I knew the multiplication table in the dead of night?”
“I did..” – he now realized what she was doing.
Frank turned around, startled.
Emma raised her gaze and saw Owen – her biological father.
“How long have you been standing there?” – Frank asked Owen trying not to hit him with all his might.
So many nights he spent just laying there, wondering what he would do to the man who abandoned his pregnant girlfriend when she most needed it. Owen caused Mary a lot of pain, but it is because of what he has done that Frank could enjoy this beautiful family of his. If Owen did not mess up, Frank would not have Mary and Em.
“What are you doing here?” – Frank had so many questions.
“Daddy, this is Owen, whom I believe you know of” – Emma stopped the interrogation that would have otherwise ensued.
“Sit, please. Both of you” – she said, making more space on both sides of her hospital bed.
“Daddy, I asked Owen to come here because he reached out to me recently, and…”
“Of course he wants something from you!” – Frank raised his voice in anger, ready to get off the bed away from the terrible man.
“Please, don’t. Hear me out” – she said, looking at Frank to see if he agreed.
“Go on, Sweetheart” – he replied, calming down a bit.
“Owen is going to become a father soon. A real father this time…” – she glanced at Owen, who sat there quietly with his head hanging low, as if he was waiting for his sentencing.
“Because of how amazing of a Father you were to me, I thought that maybe you could help Owen become one… For the sake of Hope… my little sister that I will never meet” – Emma continued with clear sadness in her eyes, but with a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
“Frank, I know I have not been the man I should have been to Mary and Emma back then, but the demons of the past hunt me every day. From what I have heard from Emma when we first met, and what I… ummm… overheard today, I am sure there is no better man for the job than you. We can hash things out later. You can even hit me in the face, if that…”
“Damn right, I will” – Frank said in a more understanding tone, rather than angry.
“Please, Frank. I do not want to let anyone else down” – Owen ended, hanging his head back down low like a scolded child, hiding his tear filled eyes.
Emma looked to Frank is search of an answer to the favor she has asked for and noticed him giving Owen a slight pat on the back and a slight nod of the head when Owen raised his eyes.
“You have my word that we will BOTH take care of your baby sister” – Frank promised, happy that his mentorship has been requested.
“And mine that I will do everything in my power not to screw it up this time” – Owen followed, full of faith in what the future will hold.
“Go get acquainted and let me rest” – said Emma, happy that she could shine her light onto someone again.
This time it was going to be someone who would never know her. Someone who was not born yet, but someone who was sure to grow up with a loving family.
Would you please let me know what you thought of THAT ending? Was it better? Was it worse?
I welcome any future challenges, btw!