Usually, it begins with an apology.
I’m sorry, Love, I can’t hear you.
I’ll get your mother.
And I hear the shuffling sounds
of the receiver being passed
from palm to palm.
This week, he tells me
he can’t hear me very well,
but wants to know how I am,
and are the kids okay?
Do they miss school, and their friends?
And what am I going to do about work?
And yes, he’s okay, still getting out
for his walk everyday,
but he doesn’t stop to talk to people,
and if he needs anything from the shop.
he wears gloves, and uses the gel
Mam makes him carry in his pocket.
And I praise his efforts to keep them safe,
because I can’t do anything else
from this distance.
Right, he says, as if a problem has been solved,
I’ll get your Mam.
And then he says those two words
that leave me undone.
For as long as I’ve known him
my Father hasn’t believed in a god,
and those words clatter, hang between us,
until my un-deaf ears hear them properly.
I love you, Dad, I say.
Me too. Here’s your mother.
Aisling Keogh is a writer and psychotherapist, who lives in County Galway. Her short stories have been published with The Irish Independent, Crannog Magazine, Wordlegs, Ropes, Bangor Literary Journal, A New Ulster, and “Story Cities” an anthology published by Arachne Press, in June of 2019. Her first published short story, “How to Save a Life,” was shortlisted for the Hennessy Irish Literary Awards 2011. In 2018, Aisling finished writing her first novel, which she is currently submitting to agents, and in January 2019, she was shortlisted for the Doolin Writer’s Weekend Short Story Competition. In her free time Aisling likes to write and sing.