Written By: Keenen Butt
My first indication that something was wrong was that day I heard my dad yelling upstairs. “No stop. Stop it please. Don’t talk back to me, stupid.”
My brother and I were glued to our phones. Mom was reading her fashion magazines as usual. All three of us glanced upwards in surprise. Upstairs, the shouting continued, increasingly harsh, with loud bangs against the walls.
“What is happening upstairs, mom? Is daddy going to be alright?” As far as I know it, he was alone upstairs.
My mom just gave me a blank look and shrugged. She quickly went back to reading her magazines. “Damn this, damn that!” He was screaming on the top of his lungs.
My dad just started smoking recently. Which was totally strange as he always tells me it was a bad habit to get hooked on. When I asked my mom about it, she just replied with “He is just letting out some stress.” But stress about what? Far as I know it, my dad lives a perfect life. He would always come home lively and cheerful with that grin of his.
A few minutes later, I decided it was time to go to room. On the way, I found my dad sitting at the bottom of the staircase, with nothing but boxers on. He was smoking.
“Dad, are you okay?” There was no reason for him to look like this. Where was his clothes? Maybe he just started washing them.
My dad took a drag then put out his hand with the cigarette. I did not believe what I was seeing. My dad was offering it to me.
I am 14 years old. My dad was the kindest father I know. He would constantly warn me about the dangers of everything. Once, he wouldn’t let me go over to my friends house because their father smokes. But here he is right now offering me a cigar?
I took it and immediately threw it on the ground.
My father look surprised as if he just came back to his senses.
“Oh my… I am so sorry kiddo.” There was a brief pause.
“Do you remember our last vacation a while back?”
“Whistler.” I smiled. “It was beautiful. The whole place was covered in snow.”
“Do you remember the light?” He asked.
Wait what light?
“The extremely bright light that covered everything. It was blinding.”
“I didn’t see any light. What are you talking about?”
He began to look desperate.
“And the ants? You must have seen them for sure. The white ants!”
“What white ants? Dad…? I don’t know what y-”
He took his left hand out of his pocket and spread his palm open. There was a white ant. It scurried about and around his hand.
My mom appeared at this moment and freaked out. She lost it at the sight of the cigarette on the ground and the state in which my dad was in, holding the white ant. I ran up the stairs to hide as my mom started lashing out at my dad. All I could hear was fragments.
“…family…not working…I don’t care anymore.” I heard my mom exclaimed.
“We need to tell the truth.” Dad said.
When I came down for breakfast the next day, the three of them were already at the breakfast table. The table was covered with a beautiful white table cloth.
Something was up. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my brother wipe away his tears. My brother was the tough football player who never cries. Mom was completely pale. She was also shivering in her seat. Dad was looking down at his plate. He didn’t bat an eye to me. It was almost as if he never noticed I arrived.
“We’ve got something to tell you.” Mom finally said to break the silence.
“You’re getting a divorce, am I right?” I held back my tears.
My mom was hesitant, “I love you all, and you know that I believe the strongest bond anyone could have is with their family.”
“Your dad and I had a long talk. He finally convinced me to stop being selfish and look at the bigger picture.”
“Listen kiddo, we want you to get out.” Dad said sternly.
What is going on?
“Get out.” My mom turned around to not show her tears.
My brother started to burst out crying, “You need to go.” he said.
“What are you all talking about? I am a part of this family as much as any of you. Why am I being kicked out? What have I done? I want to stay with you.” I screamed through my tears.
“No.” My dad started slowly, “You…you deserve a better life than all of this.” He pointed at the white tablecloth.
I looked down, and leaped back in absolute shock. The table was not covered with a beautiful white tablecloth, it was covered with white ants. The ants started to move up my family’s arms and then slowly covered every last bit of them.
I woke up bawling, right where our cable car had fell off the wires and where it crash landed. Whistler. White snow surrounds me. My family’s frozen bodies beside me. I stare at the sky helplessly.