You can do anything, my father used to tell me. He’d tell me the world was in my hands, that I could conquer anything. He believed in me like no one else ever could.
Merry Christmas Chloe, he said as he leaned forward to hand me the modest black box. As the lid came off, I gasped, mesmerised by the way the necklace glimmered, reflecting the thin speck of winter sun shining through the window. The chain held a small globe as its proud pendant, the whole world right there, wrapped around my very neck. Joy radiated from him as he watched me admiring the gift, overwhelmed, inspired.
Lights flashed, machines beeped, my father’s limp body drowned in the sterile white sheets. I held his hand as the doctors forced countless medicines down his throat. Each ounce of hope died away as I overheard their conversations, caught their shaking heads, hanging them in shame. I turned to my father, who reached out to stroke my tear stained cheeks, a weak smile lingering on his lips. You have to promise me something, he said. I looked up expectantly. Promise me when something doesn’t go right, you’ll keep trying. A single tear ran down my cheek as I waited for him to continue. Great things will happen for you Chloe, work hard, okay? I could only nod, tears streaming down my cheeks, desperate gasps for air strangling my throat.
I didn’t talk to anyone at the funeral. I couldn’t bear the apologies, the fake regards and wishes. Ignoring every word the priest uttered, I ran my fingers over the necklace, the cold feel of the chain matching that of my icy heart. Long after the guests had left, I knelt by the grave, scraping my fingers through the soil I’d dampened with my tears. It took every ounce of courage inside of me to stop crying, to put on a brave face and pretend the strength was genuine. I promise Daddy.