My hands are numb from the cold air. It's 6 am and I'm waiting outside of the Prelude Clubhouse for my dad to finish a breakfast meeting with his work group. Every Sunday, he insists on taking me with him for golf, but when the meeting starts, I only stay long enough to finish my food. Their conversations are always so bland, so reserved. They talk numbers and reports, almost as if to bore me. Deep down, I know that it's a distraction. It might be a family gathering, but I am the only relative that comes. There are dozens of men there. I can't imagine that not a single one is a father or a husband.
No—they purposefully wait for me to leave to talk business. It worries me what kind of work my dad is involved in that's so closed-off and secretive. I picture them as a room of criminals. My presence is an inconvenience, but I have to attend. It's only fitting after my mom died two years ago. He would take her. I feel like coming here helps fill that empty void for my dad.
A door opens from behind me and I turn slightly to see a younger member of the group approaching me. He's dressed in a black business suit like the others, but striking blue eyes contrast jet-black hair. He stood out to me from the first day and from what I've seen of his mannerisms, he's fairly new to the organization.
"Needed some fresh air?" he asks as he comes to stand at my left side.
I shrug. No one has ever asked me this before.
"I wouldn't know what to talk about in there," I admit.
He smiles, but looks ahead at the foggy rolling hills beyond the course.
"You might be surprised," he responds. "There's a lot to be said about what we do. You never know—one of these days, this might be your legacy to share with us."
I smile back, failing to re-capture his wandering gaze. "I doubt I'm cut out for it. That's more my father's thing." I question why I called my dad that. I'm not one to pick up conversational cues for the sake of the other person. This man has a strange effect on me. It doesn't make me feel very comfortable.
"Maybe," he concludes simply.
I open my mouth to mention that I'm not fully sure what it is that they do, but he turns and returns to the front double-doors.As one opens, he catches it, holding it for my dad.
"Thank you," my dad says to him, before walking to me.
The man disappears inside, but not without another glance at me. I'm not sure what it is behind his eyes that has me stuck in place. It was forceful.
"There you are," my dad tells me in a tone that's meant to be cheerful. I don't buy the attitude for one second—his eyes tell a different story. They're apprehensive, almost scared.
"That was weird," I explain to him. "He asked why I'm out here."
"I'm not surprised. You never stay." He starts walking with me across the road leading from the clubhouse to the entrance gate. "What did he say?"
"I'll explain when we're back at the house."
This place has the tendency to give me the creeps on any day. I have no interest in discussing anything personal within possible earshot of the grounds. Before we take more than two steps onto the lawn to cut across to the parking lot, a black sedan drives at an oddly-low speed across the road. I follow it with my eyes as it circles to behind us. Then, it stops—so do I. My dad must sense my hesitation. He stops, too, turning around to look at the car. A rear passenger's window rolls down and I see a mirror-like reflection no bigger than a bottleneck shining from the lower edge of it. I get an uneasy feeling and step towards my dad.
A loud bang cuts through the air and I hear my dad gasp. The window rolls up as the car leaves, just as slowly as it came. The next few moments don't feel real—they happen too quickly. All I can do is let out the breath I've been holding as I shake my dad on my lap, having collapsed onto the grass in a desperate attempt to catch his falling body. I see blood soaking through his blazer where his heart should be. I near to touch it, to try to stop the bleeding, but my hand freezes, moving sharply to his face instead as I pray that he moves.
"Dad," I squeak in the loudest voice that will escape my lips—it's inaudible. I shake him again by the shoulders, but he won't move anymore. It's like he froze. "Dad!"
Echoes of my cries pulsate through my head, but he won't hear me. He won't listen anymore.