Things My Father Should've Taught Me

I loved my father with all my heart. But from the bottom of that same damn crooked heart I must say, with all due respect, he was a fucking dick. He imprinted onto my naive mind the belief that I was loved, so loved that nothing could ever go wrong, only to pull the rug from under me when he started breaking promises and disappearing.

My mother, though physically present, was often too wrapped up in her own world to care about what was going on in mine. She would dutifully ask questions but rarely ever listen or understand my feelings. Frankly, I doubt that she could even if she had tried. She had no emotional depth. I was too tired of having to explain myself or even keep her attention focused on my explaining myself, so I stopped.

I was about 15. For so long I had forgotten what it was like to have a family who would support and guide me through hard times. I had to navigate my adolescence then adulthood all on my own. Went to high school, went to university, needing no dime from my father since luckily I’d got the uncle’s money. Well, a non-related, especially helpful one who I met at a pretentious dinner party.

See, my father, giving no shit about how I used his money, should at least have taught me what to do when richer, grosser men wished to blow their dirty cash on his precious baby girl. Well, it’s simple. Take it or you don’t, none of anyone’s business. But if you do, then keep quiet and do what you’re told because there’s no such thing as free money.

The money wasn’t free, no, but I took it anyway, enjoying all the perks of a first-class no-string-attached situation (because why the hell not?) He was 43 years old, I was 20, but it wasn’t a problem. I mean, if you don’t count the blatant daddy issues written on my hanging boobs whenever I was out with him or knelt by the side of his bed, it was actually a hell lot of fun.

The first dinner he took me to came out with a bill of £845 — an amount I had never even seen on a restaurant receipt before, let alone expecting anyone to be willing to spend on me. I was made aware of how much my company and the whole package which was me could be worth, which I couldn’t wait to rub on my father’s face, and it thrilled me.

I, however, despised that my father hadn’t taught me: a man who spends more of his money than his time on me is a man who doesn’t want to give me much at all. That generous non-related uncle, suspiciously with full head of hair and a well-functioning penis, would pay for all the dates, my tuition fees, some of my clothes and toys, yet would never give me more than 3 hours per meet, 3 to 4 meets a month.

Before I knew it, all the days apart (and cash transactions) had filled my heart with longing and growing love for him, like I did my absent father, and I thought he loved me too, but I was wrong. He had none but his money to give me. I was in disbelief and deeply broken.

I wished my father would’ve warned me about manipulative older men like him, or any man for that matter. He should’ve told me those men, while happily catering to my emotional, physical and sexual needs, are often stuck in their own ways and unlikely to picture their last few decades committed to a 20-year-old whose interest they don’t know how else to gauge other than offering excessive alcohol and coke.

On the contrary, most young men play the modern dating charade well and are eager to please and accommodate, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 share the same incurable turn-offs: sexually selfish and emotionally stupid. I was convinced I had no way to win.

The summer I turned 21, after countless shady uncles hairy enough to be my father, god bless me, I found an exception — Henry, a man who was old enough to patiently prioritise my orgasm over his and young enough to willingly flex his life to fit with mine. A man who I believed was different from my father.

Touching him, I learned by myself what my father should’ve taught me: having sex is a sexual activity but never just so. A sexual activity is just a sexual activity, no more and no less, when you watch your favourite porn and use your realest dildo, which guarantees you pleasure like eating makes you full. Sleeping with a man, a grown man whose heart beats louder than yours with each thrust, however, is also subjecting yourself to emotional vulnerability whether you want it or not.

Fortunately, my vulnerability was reciprocated with care and kindness by this man. By then we had known each other for more than six months. As we intertwined our heated bodies with each other, he caressed my face and asked me about my childhood. I was high on Oxytocin and four lines of coke so I told him about my father. I wanted to be real to Henry, to someone, for once.

I told him I loved my father but I also hated that man; even though I hated that man, I was extremely pleased that I took after him, I was his blood, I could do what he did too. He was a handsome man and he made me one beautiful woman. So, every time I caught myself in the mirror, I saw him, I wanted to cut my face.

Henry listened attentively to me in silence. Now and then he gently placed a kiss onto my forehead, reassuring me it was all okay. To be honest, I wasn’t too sure if he fully took in what I’d said but I was happy he would in return let his guard down and share with me about his darkest secrets. I was hopeful he would be the same kind as me, my soulmate.

He began to reveal he didn’t have a healthy relationship with his parents either. His dad was always busy and distant and didn’t believe in his abilities. For a long time, he was suffering and bottling resentment. Only when he entered his twenties was he able to put things into perspective and realise that his parents were only human, they made mistakes, he loved them and wanted to forgive them. It wasn’t easy but he did it and he felt free and happy.

There, I could immediately tell this boy was genuine and keen on helping me to reach the same level of inner peace, which was exactly why I was left completely stunned.

Was he fucking kidding me?

“Have you seen your father lately?”, he asked sincerely.

“What?”, I shot him a sharp, fiery look.

“Maybe you should pay him a visit and reconcile with him”, his voice remained innocently warm.

I didn’t say anything. I turned my back against him, pulling up the blanket to cover my naked breasts. He moved closer to me and settled in the spoon position, wrapping his arms around me.

“You know”, I raised my voice abruptly, “Actually, my father is dead. Well, murdered.”

I could feel his breathing accelerating behind my neck.

I continued, “And I lied. He had taught me everything I needed to know. Especially about boys like you.”

Not waiting for him to respond, I carried on, “I’ll tell you how”, feeling amused by my own talking. I could swear it wasn’t the coke.

Well, I did learn everything, even the coke snorting, from my father. It was true that he loved me and loved spoiling me. He would give me money whenever I asked, and whenever I saw something he didn’t want me to see. Take the money and shut up, basically, in a loving way. It was a lot, enough for me to be one of the coolest kids at a top private school. So I didn’t say a thing — that was easy.

But it wasn’t so easy to get hit later by the reality that he only had money but not his time to spend on me. His valuable time, I soon gathered, was exclusively dedicated to his businesses, to pretentious dinner parties, to sniffing the whores he recycled every two weeks, to excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs which were also used to hook the whores. He was good at covering his track, though. My mother and the family didn’t know a thing. Only I knew.

Or they did know but didn’t want to acknowledge it. They would say, let the man be the man he was, even if it meant stuck in his own way. I had to accept that he would not choose me over the skimpy women with bouncy tits. But it wasn’t a big deal. I wouldn’t go so low to compare myself to them. However, they weren’t all skimpy and bouncy. I remembered peeping into his bedroom one night and recognising a boy who I had seen from school.

I was 12 at the time. I was small and pale and so was he. I felt like vomiting, yet couldn’t stop watching. Then my father saw me and angrily slammed the door. The next evening he came into my room and sat by my bed. He tucked me in, suggesting charmingly, let’s go shopping tomorrow, you can buy whatever you want, but I didn’t reply, I was just shaking. He then continued, baby, what you saw, it was just a fun activity.

I knew what a fun activity looked like. I was his daughter, not stupid. I was his daughter, like him, sharp and decisive and obsessive. I lied quietly but my veins were close to exploding. All I had in me was disgust and rage. I couldn’t take it. When he bent down to give me one last goodnight kiss, I grabbed his collar and pulled him down close to my face. With my other hand, I twisted a knife three times at which point it had already been 4 inches deep in his chest.

He collapsed on me like a magnificent Greek sculpture. I let myself appreciate his exquisite beauty for a moment, then I screamed and cried at the top of my lung, making it look like an accident. It was the only way, I was sure. He was mine and forever mine, not anyone else’s.

A month later, I went back to school. My privileged, isolated, miserable life went on. I never saw that boy again.

Until six months earlier.

“I’m disappointed you don’t remember me. I’m disappointed you told me such a lame ass story about your boring middle class family after I had just reminded you of my father.”

Those words were echoing in my head as the coke hit my brain and gradually knocked consciousness out of me. Henry, both concerned and confused, tried to keep me awake, but by then it was too late.

My last effort before I was gone was murmuring, “Why you but not me…”

Short StoriesEllen Nguyen