Harald’s Death

Harry sat in class staring absentmindedly out of the window, he never really payed much attention in class but today was extremely difficult because he did not go to sleep on time, and was hangover as hell. In fact it was the cops that gave him a ride last night, he had gone out drinking with Sara Caliente, a pretty girl from his arts class. They had gone out drinking and dancing and were having a blast up until the police came. Sunset Valley has a strict curfew for minors but since they knew who Harry and Sara were, or more precisislly, who their mothers were they only took them home, the two of them laughing in the back seat the whole time. His mother was still up, she had a friend over, a colleague from the City Hall days. She talked briefly with the officers and just sent him to bed. He expected a lecture in the morning but nothing happened. It was strange he concluded but everything was strange ever since his father passed. Just last week he had skipped school altogether, he went to arts class and then spent the rest of the day wandering around, gathering inspiration for an afternoon of painting. His mother said nothing then either. It was possible she didn’t know yet.

Hazel, his brother had not ratted him out, even though he knew. The two of them had an ok relationship but Harry always felt Hazel was a bit of a nerd, he was a freakishly smart kid, smarter than anyone Harry knew and he was very serious about school and it that regard they couldn’t be much different and it was hard to find stuff to talk about. Sometimes they would go out and play ball but Hazel was a chubby boy and not a least bit athletic so it was not as fun as it could be. Also Hazel was gay and although Harry couldn’t care less about who was dating who, except maybe in the case of Sara Caliente, Harry could never hear a nice thing about gays from his father. In fact Harald senior had disinherited his oldest son for marrying a man. And however much Harry tried his father’s opinions stuck to him a bit and he would often hear Harald’s voice in his head.

He wondered would it go away completely in time, now that his father was gone. The thought of never hearing his father speak suddenly hit him very hard, he could feel tears creeping up at him and he lowered his gaze down hoping no one will notice. It was weird because he didn’t shed a tear before this, he figured reality hadn’t caught up with him until this very moment. His father was gone. Forever.

They were never that close, his parents divorced when he was still very young and although he spent every other week at his father’s big house he always misses his mum when he was there and when he was at mums he never waited anxiously to see his father and spend time with him.

To be honest Harald Prentiss was a strict man and Harry was a little afraid of him. When ever he was there he spent more times with his much older siblings, especially Hannah who was more like his mother outside of home and he was very sad when she married and moved. It was only a house away and she was very happy but Harry felt a little abandoned and hurt. Now he wondered if his father felt this way too, it was not long after that his father’s hurt literally burst… Harald was an old man, but a firefighter refusing to retire and Harry always thought it will be his work that kills him. It turned out he was wrong.

The day they told him was nice and sunny. He was at his mother’s house that week and was struck with sudden inspiration so he ran to the desk in his room almost immediately.  He should have guesses from the way his mother came into his room and told him to go across the street, her face was serious and her voice strained but Harry was drawing and was pretty irritated for the interruption so he paid it no mind. It was when he saw Tommy’s face that he knew something was wrong.

His half-brother  was sitting on the stairs on the front porch looking at Harry but not seeing him… It wasn’t until Harry sat down that he realized he was there. He gave him a weak smile, asked how he was doing but just the sound of his voice made Harry’s insides curl. Something was very wrong.

Tommy was a newlywed, just back from his honeymoon, his voice shouldn’t sound this way, his smiles shouldn’t  be so empty… He told everything to Harry in a monotone shaky voice, explaining how their father’s heart just stopped at the station, the paramedics were there in minutes but there was nothing they could do… He was gone.

Harry nodded his head looking at his brother’s eyes thinking how Tommy lost both his mother and his father in a year… They just sat there for a while in silence and Harry wondered about Hannah, and how she was taking this, wishing she was here with them…

No, reality didn’t hit at first… His mother had come to get him and took him home. He had stayed there knowing they were all across the street at his father’s, well at Tommy’s, house talking about the funeral arrangements but he still felt empty and numb. He didn’t really want to be here, although he knew all of his father’s children were there. Tommy even invited Alyssa and Andrew, the older siblings Harald had disowned.

At the funeral half of the town was present, no probably everyone was there, whole of Prentiss family, with their many friends at relatives and all of the fire department. Harry was standing next to his mother who had big black sunglasses on but Harry knew she wasn’t crying. Tommy wasn’t crying either and he was there holding his wife’s hand his face stern and serious. Hannah had cried and so had Alyssa, the sister Harry had not known. She was a pretty woman with long blonde hair, the same shade as Harry’s and his father’s. She was surrounded by two young men, her sons. The older had recently joined the army, Harry had heard in bits of pieces of conversation on the way to the graveyard, and it was no surprise, he was tall and muscular but also kind of good-looking, much like his mum. And Harry could not help wondering how much his father would have been proud of this grandson if only he was not born of wedlock… The younger boy he knew, they were in school together and he was suspiciously hanging around Sara and they were never friends, although they were family… How odd Harry thought watching the stony faces of strangers at his father’s funeral.

Somehow Harry had avoided reality then, he had avoided it for weeks but as sudden as a gust of wind it hit him one day when he was sitting in class and when it did it hit him hard. It opened a big hole in Harry’s heart and it’s emptiness threatened to swallow him whole…