Goodbye, Dad

anti-gay letter

He wasn’t thinking about anything, really. The plane landed next to the Delaware river like it always did. He picked up his bags like he always had. And somehow he managed to rent a car without saying a single audible word to anyone.

He drove slow and mindlessly down the highway with the city skyline to his right and without a second, or first, thought, pulled off the interstate and into his old neighborhood.

The car idled past his old school and he looked at the familiar houses out of the frame of the car window. It had been years since he had been back.

When the car stopped he was sitting in an empty parking lot at the west side of the playground where he broke his wrist as a child. Across the field was a row of houses, all small and white, and he stared at a big red door that sat under a wooden sign that read “home sweet home.”

He remembered the door.

He remembered the sound it made when it slammed shut for the final time.

He remembered the way it muffled the curses as he slowly walked down the steps with a broken heart.

He hated that door.

He opened the suitcase that sat on the passenger’s seat and took out a folded piece of paper that he kept inside a plastic bag. It was a birthday card from his father. The black ink had become smudged and faded over the years but he knew the words by heart.

“Dear James,” it read. “This is a difficult but necessary letter to write. I have fond memories of our times together, but that is all in the past. Don’t expect any further conversations With me. No communications at all.”

The phone rang and he folded the letter on his lap.

“Hello,” he said. “Yes, sorry. I got lost. Fifteen minutes? Ok, see you soon.”

He sealed the letter back in the plastic bag and shoved it away in his suitcase. The car slowly pulled out of the parking lot and he turned onto his old street, reciting the rest of his father’s note to himself.

“I will not come to visit,” he said. “Nor do I want you in my house. You’ve made your choice though Wrong it may be. God did not intend for this unnatural lifestyle.”

The car slowed as it passed the big red door of his old house and for a brief, fleeting, and painful second he thought about walking back up those steps. About falling into his father’s arms. About starting over, forgiveness, and redemption.

But the letter still hung on the tip of his tongue.

“Have a good birthday and good life,” he said. “No present exchanges will be accepted.

“Goodbye, Dad.”

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In August of 2007, I finally built up the courage to tell my father I was gay. The moment I said it, the phone got quiet and he got off the phone after a few “Okay”s. I decided to give him time to process the news. About a week later, and not long before my birthday, I received a letter. – Reddit

One thought on “Goodbye, Dad”

  1. I had seen this letter on Facebook before. It just breaks my heart to see this kind of behavior from parents toward their children. :( The way you rendered this in your flash fiction… I just lost it and cried. It’s beautifully written.