Heritage by D.I. Jolly
A prose poem
It was 4 years to the day that the letter arrived, four years to the day since the incident where my father, a quiet man with a strange sense of humour apparently lost control.
It had often been said that he used to tell himself jokes, because only he ever thought they were funny, and he often never spoke much above a whisper,
until that day.
On that day the echoes of his actions could be felt across the world. I was younger then, but even now I don’t fully understand or comprehend how a kind and quiet man could be associated with phrases like,
‘a river of blood’
‘screams that I can still hear in my nightmare’.
And then the letter arrived and pieces of a puzzle I didn’t want to build started falling into place. Receiving an apology from a dead man, but not the apology I expected. Not sorry for what he’d done in his last few hours but instead for who he’d been every day before that, for being a beacon of the mediocre, a harbinger of normal.
The phrase that stung most, like a slap to the ear read,
“I’m sorry that I was the perfect example of how you will fail, and I made it look so charming.”
I stared at the letter my father had apparently written the night before
he ‘lost control’
and murdered 47 people,
and I realised that he was trying to force me to not be like him. That the worse thanks I could give him would be to emulate him, and I looked around from the desk he used to sit in, and I wept
as I reached for his gun.