The snow fell gently that night. A wind chime tinkled. Rainbow coloured lights blinked and winked, illuminating a single line of footprints that led down the side alley of the house.
The rusted lock had been opened with ease – the intruder had the key and grease he’d needed – and the tangle of bikes and garden implements had been silently avoided, even in the darkness.
He’d slunk across the patio and made for the laundry room, where he’d found the window with the loose latch through which he knew he could enter, silently, even though he was drunk.
Inside, there were clothes hanging to dry: a child’s snowsuit, a woman’s underwear, a man’s overalls. The intruder breathed deeply and shuddered in the darkness.
She deserved to suffer. But it was the child he wanted.
In a moment, he realised where he was and remembered the need for speed. He slipped off his shoes – a desire to leave no trace – and, clutching a pillowcase like a swag bag, he gently eased open the door and entered the house…
He wasn’t inside long, and he exited the same way he’d arrived, vanishing into the night.
He knew he’d pay for the visit, but it didn’t matter. He knew he’d never see their faces when they saw what he’d done, but it didn’t matter. Because he also knew that, on Christmas morning, she’d awaken to an unexpected gift beneath the tree, with a label on it that read simply: Love, dad xx
As I said in the recording, I wrote that a while ago for a story competition that had to be exactly 250 words. It was really about remembering not just the perspectives that we often have on dads – and men in general to some extent – that men are a threat, a danger.
But hopefully it will also remind is that for a lot of dads – myself included – Christmas can be an intolerably lonely time, one marked mainly by absence. The loss of children always brings about a kind of grief, and even if the children are “ok” – living as they are with their mother – their absence is always accompanied by a deep and profound kind of pain.
So maybe, while we celebrate Christmas this year, we could remember those men who are refused access to their children, or whose children have been taken away from them by mothers who decided to live abroad, or across the country.
Happy Christmas anyway xx