The New Fatherhood
by Coleman Bomar
“It was installed when you were first born, before they even cut the cord,” Dad had said.
I was at the age of transposing. Everyone goes through the process at some point during early adolescence. I was scared, though. The microchip began to vibrate then burned a little beneath the skin at the base of my neck. He had warned me beforehand that it would hurt for just a moment, like a bee sting. I believed him for less than two minutes. The pain started as bearable but worsened steadily until I was on my knees and elbows, pulling hair.
“I guess it’s different for everyone,” Dad said. “Papa did the same for me when I was your age. It is a natural process, just sped up, just easier this way.”
I felt him encroaching. His memories were mixing with mine, sticking, unsticking, mingling, and separating like viscous liquid.
“You’ll be able to differentiate between mine and your own in a moment. It doesn’t matter though. We are almost each other for the most part already. Let it happen.”
I saw and felt and breathed within them. A baseball game. A velvet couch. Nanna younger and playing cards. Papa getting home late. I looked up and saw the back of his neck flashing green on the wall. He was looking away from my writhing body, blank-faced, sighing heavily and measured, as if he was thinking about it consciously. I convulsed.
Papa with a belt and a flash and I felt the belt, and the belt feeling rose to my neck and my tongue and I tasted beer. Then gin was on my tongue and then bourbon. I did not know how I knew the taste. I could see his microchip flashing faster for a moment.
I hated him, but I loved him in a way that one might love a scar for the story of survival and the associated formative memories. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to show less pain. I loved him and hated him because he was my father. For most, that’s reason enough. The microchip was like a hot knife.
“Addiction runs in the family, and so does pain,” Dad said. “It’s just your genes. I am so, so, so sorry. If it helps, I love you. I hope you know I love you.”
I looked at myself or Dad looked at me as a three-year old, and a blonde woman with eyes like mine walked out the door, yelling, with just one bag, and I convulsed, violently thrashing this time. I stopped suddenly, jerked, then I stopped completely.
I fell on my chest and then picked myself up. I looked at him. His tongue was stuck out a little. The light from the microchip under his neck skin was flashing red, and I heard and felt and saw a thought like a memory: himself as a boy on knees and elbows, pulling hair and flashing green.
I wanted a beer.
Copyright © 2020 by Coleman Bomar