Jumping into the sink

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Jumping into the sink

My gaze is wandering over our new, sparkling kitchen, finally resting on the sink, the only old item in the room. Convincing my mother to keep it has been a hard struggle and she certainly still wonders why I insisted on it so persistently. She cannot possibly understand the sentimental value it has for me.
Absent-mindedly I trace the streak a water-drop has left on the silver metal with my finger. Probably she has forgotten that moment ten years ago. But it is still very clear in my memory and one more time I recall it.

Hiding my trembling hands behind my back and trying to calm myself so my voice would not shake, I had approached my mother. She was washing up the dishes, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, completely immersed in her own thoughts. Taking in every detail of her appearance I gathered all my courage and asked her the question most important to me:
“Where is my Dad?” Surprised and startled she turned, putting the plate she had been scrubbing aside. I could see she was trying to think of an answer. Never before I had noticed her looking like this: pale, fragile, the bloodless lips pressed so tightly together that they looked like one, thin line.
Just when I thought she would not say anything, she forced a smile on her face, took my hands into her own and answered in a serious voice:
“One day your father jumped into the sink and slid down the drainpipe.” Her hand squeezed mine and she turned round again, continuing her work.

That was it and we have never talked about him again. Of course I don’t believe her – nobody slides down drainpipes, but I have not dared to ask her again. I just figure that Dad simply left us and for a long time the mere thought of him made me really angry. I wanted to tell him how much I disliked him but I had not the slightest idea where he was to be found. So I thought less and less about him, trying to forget he even existed. Instead I devoted myself to help my mother wherever I could, admiring her for her strength.
Until the mail arrived this morning I had excluded my father from my life, but now I am holding this letter in my hand. A plain white envelope with a colourful, pretty stamp has turned everything upside down. I cannot keep my eyes from reading my name in the strange handwriting over and over again: Susanna. I sigh and shift from one leg to the other trying to make up my mind. A sunbeam falls on the photograph on the shelf beside the sink, making the man in it seem alive. He is young and quite handsome, smiling broadly. I gulp. All my feelings of anger and hate I have for my father fade whenever I happen to see this picture. He looks so innocent and naive. I don’t really know if this man is my father but I am pretty sure. I haven’t dared to ask Mom yet. Probably because of the circumstances when I first saw the photograph.

I had returned early from school because one teacher had unexpectedly fallen ill. I had not bothered informing Mom that I was already coming home and when I opened the door and looked for her in the living room she did not notice my presence. This very photo was standing on the table in front of her, a crape around it. She was curled up on the couch, her head buried in her arms, her black hair falling loosely over her shaking shoulders. She was weeping so heavily I thought she was going to collapse. For a moment I was paralysed and not able to move, then my feet seemed to develop their own will and led me out of the room.

I never mentioned that I had seen her and made no comment on the picture that was standing on the shelf from that day on. Seems like my father has’nt survived his ride in the drainpipe, was what I thought.

The sound of the front door being shut startles me. I do not want Mom to see this so I have to hurry, but somehow I cannot do it. Again I read the first lines of the letter:
“Dear Susanna”, my aunt begins. I did not even know I had an aunt until today. She tells me that the other envelope enclosed is from my father. He wanted to post it the day he died. In fact, he was on the way to the post office when that other car smashed his.
Mom calls me but I am not able to answer, fearing my voice would betray what I am up to. Though my intention seems a bit childish now. I wanted to tear up his letter and rinse it down the sink. The same way he took years ago. I am not sure this is the right thing to do anymore, at least I should open it, shouldn’t I?
I haven’t heard my mother entering the kitchen but now she is standing behind me, putting her hand on my shoulder. I can feel her breath in my neck.
“What are you doing, Susa?”, she asks me.
“Getting rid of junkmail.” My voice doesn’t sound as confident as I had hoped, but rather weak. I cannot see it but I sense that she is shaking her head. Her sigh rings loudly in my ears. And finally after all these years I hear the words I was waiting for:
“We have to talk about your father, love.” Suddenly all thoughts of tearing up the letter seem ridiculous. Silently Mom takes my hand and leads me out of the kitchen, away from the sink.

Diese Geschichte entstand für eine Prüfung in der Schule, für die ich eine Kurzgeschichte zum Thema "relationships" schreiben musste.


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