As the man sat in the sand he replayed the police officer’s words in his head. “Your daughter took her life.” Could he have stopped it? He’ll never know.
Sitting on the sand, the old man sighed. The air was cold, but the last rays of the sun were warm enough to suppress the chill. The man watched the waves regretfully. He couldn’t sit comfortably. He felt like he didn’t deserve to be comfortable after the pain he’d caused today.
It started at the breakfast table. His wife had finished the orange juice. She knows the old man has juice every day for breakfast. He wouldn’t have minded, but she doesn’t even like orange juice. His outburst was mild, but enough to ruin both their days.
Next, he walked the dog. He took the last two plastic bags with him, in case the dog made a mess on the path. The dog decided to make a mess of the path three times. The first two times, the man did the right thing and no one witnessed his dutiful deeds. The third time he attracted the glare of a handful of onlookers. He kicked the dog deposit off the path and avoided making eye contact. He could feel their stares burning into the back of his head.
Upon returning home, he checked his retirement fund. When he saw that the stock market was down he received a call. “Hello, I’m Michael,” said a voice that didn’t sound like it belonged to a Michael. “I am informing you that your computer has a virus…” The old man was familiar with this scam. He got so infuriated that he minced his words and stuttered a weak insult. It was out of his character, and it left the window open for the scammer to shout an insult of his own before terminating the call. The old man kept his money, but he lost a little dignity.
Sitting on the sand, the old man realised that all these events led him to do what he wished he hadn’t. A seagull flew over the waves and he longed to do the same. He thought about his daughter. They hadn’t talked in years. When the old man’s mobile phone showed his daughter’s name earlier in the day, he knew it’d be bad news. The first thing he heard was “Dad, I need your help…”
Money troubles again, thought the old man. That’s what started all the problems many years ago. Rather than taking the bait, he was proactive. “Stop! You’ve said it before. You don’t need us in your life. So go and live your life without me and your mum!” He hung up. He’d had enough for today.
But the day wasn’t over yet.
It didn’t matter anyway. The most important thing was to go to the hospital in the morning to pick up something very important. He made a promise to himself as he looked out towards the sunset. “I won’t make the same mistake again.” The salty air was blowing through his thinning hair. “I won’t make the same mistake raising my newborn granddaughter.”