“You are a failure!” Harriet spat.
Spittle flew, her teeth gnashed, and her voice crackled through the darkened house.
“You are worth nothing, you have done nothing. You are a has-been, a washout, a failure! All the years I’ve wasted on you! After all I did, all my family did, you still failed!”
The spittle burst from her lipstick-stained teeth when she pronounced the letter F, as if she enjoyed sullying the world with it.
“All the handouts you took, the network, the friends, the clients, and you failed!”
The tirade continued. Every night she picked up where she left off the night before it, like Scheherazade and her one-thousand-and-one tales. For the past thirty years, he had come home to this, this Harpy and her relentless blame game.
Mortimer fixed himself a drink and carried it out to the porch. He closed the door behind him. Yet Harpy’s screeches still sounded through the windows.
“You bought him that fucking car,” she screamed, “it’s all your fault!”
The F split into a thousand pieces; a thousand shattered memories.
It was her favorite letter, and she relished in it.
F for Failure, for Fuck-up, for Fault.
F for Florian.
F for Funeral.
So many years and she still could not Forgive; that F did not figure in her vocabulary.
So many decades had passed and Harriet’s guilt and loss had twisted her memories, bent them and reshaped them to her convenience.
She had bought Florian the car with her daddy’s money. And Florian, that scoundrel of a son with his lopsided smile and drunken slur, had thrown his life away on a curve.
Mortimer closed his eyes and took a deep, shaky breath.
“I let her coddle him like she did. I gave him my name when he was nothing of mine and saved her reputation. It was right, because, back then, I loved her. Yet, I am guilty…”
He shook his head, and a tear sprung to his eye.
“It is my fault… I let that girl get in the car with him.”