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The door opened, and we all turned as one.

“So I’m told they want to build a statue of me, now.”

My father was drunk. His figure filled the door frame, and he glared at all of us as if it was our fault.

“Poppa,” I said, standing up and taking a tentative step towards him. “We didn’t know how to tell you.”

“Pah,” he said, blowing whiskey fumes into my face with some force. “You were scared to talk to your own poppa.”

“Do you blame me, Poppa? I knew you’d be angry. I tried to tell them you didn’t want it, but they wouldn’t listen. You’re a hero to them all now. They want to show it.”

He threw the whiskey bottle across the room. It missed my brother’s head by a few inches and fell with a crash into the recycling bin. Nobody flinched. We were too used to it.

“If they want to show me how much they think of me, they can keep me in whiskey,” he muttered, crossing the room to pull another bottle out of the crate beside the door.

“You tell them,” he said, turning to gesture with his whiskey bottle, “You tell ’em that if they put up a damn statue I’ll tear it down myself. Don’t need that sort of… of ridiculousness. Goddamn statues. They’re for dead men. I ain’t dead!”

He stomped past us and slammed the door behind him.

We stayed still for a few moments, collectively holding our breath. We heard nothing from behind the door, and slowly relaxed. As I sat back down, my mother reached over to turn the radio on.

“Breaking news,” it said. “Reports are coming in of an explosion in the Four Beams coalmine. Up to a hundred miners may be trapped underground…”

The voice of the newsreader was drowned out by a flood of noisy swearing from behind the door.

“Can’t a man have a night to himself?!”

The house shook as my father flew out of the window, and I think we all felt a little safer knowing he was out there.

© Kari Fay

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