My daddy was idle. He spent half of my life as a pair of legs, cigarette smoke hovering like a swarm of gnats. He worked on cars. That was why he spent so much time in the garage; why so many people came to see him.
He made tidy little lines of it along the glass top of the coffee table that we acquired from behind the Salvation Army. He took us out at night to rummage around in the drop offs before anyone else could get to them. I found a ship in a bottle, once. It was displayed on a shelf above my bed, which was a raw, splintering board I’d nailed crudely in place. The bottle was smooth and heavy and stoppered with a cork; the ship inside, proud and still and ready.
Some nights, I would take it down and sit with it in my lap, absently picking away tiny pieces of the cork. The pieces made a pile of dust that sat undisturbed on my windowsill, long after my father smashed the boat.
I used to want to kill him. The night he destroyed my boat, he had also taken apart the television. He pried the volume knob away and set it carefully on the carpet in front of him, and then the channel changer. My sister started to get nervous when the whole set was in pieces, laid out neatly in a pattern, across our living room. “You remember how it goes, right?” she asked.
My daddy was good with cars, but not so much with televisions.
I called him a name. I said he was a fiend, although I wasn’t sure of its meaning.
He didn’t mean to break anything. He had only been trying to strangle me against my mattress when the nails to my shelf gave way. We both stared at it for a long time. “I’m sorry, son,” he’d said.
I wasn’t ever going to do it.
This piece is an entry in the Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word this week was idle, and we had 33-333 words to write about it.