[39] Two Fathers, Linh Tran

May you rest in peace, Father, but I can’t follow in your damn footsteps if I can’t see them, so don’t ask that of me from up there. Grandma tells me I’m just like you, a dashing young man with piles of promise. But she’s lying, isn’t she? I know I’m nothing like you, Father—thank the Lord—you, who prayed on his sinning knees for exactly that to happen.

When I toss and turn, I wonder what put you into the ground: your shame or God’s mercy. God sure doesn’t do the same for me, even if He loves me. And I know it could be part of His greater plan. But on those turbulent nights, I waver and wonder which father is kinder.

Did you know that “monster spawn” is what people called me, once they learned of you? The moniker stalks me through this rundown town from pew to pew, until every corner of that sacred refuge glistens with contempt and scorn. I hate you for giving me that nickname, this single, unasked for present, despite the killer college essay I’ll have. No pun intended. And I think I hate God for watching without comment through the stained-glass windows. No heavenly message sent. Or even worse, He chooses a man among men who fuels the flames licking at a lonely, lost, little boy.

I’m scared. I’ve turned on one father already. I don’t want to turn on another.

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