I laid my head on his broad chest, my arms around his muscular torso.
I felt his large hand ‘gently’ thumping my uncovered back, the space between my neck and where my wedding gown began.
Luther Vandross’, “Dance With My Father Again” was aptly playing through the monstrous sound systems DJ Snap had brought for my wedding.
From my peripheral, I could see Antoine standing close to mum. He looked unsure, it was his wedding day, yet his father in-law got the first dance… hahaha…
My mum looked on tolerantly… I guess the years had taught them all not to come between this daughter and her father.
As the song ended, he pulled away and gently kissed my forehead. He was still as handsome as always. Athletic too.
He wore his Armani tuxedo like second skin.
My father… El Presidento! I mean that literally, my dad is Mr President.
He has remained unchanged physically for as long as I can remember. It’s so bad that trash-talker’s have branded him a vampire. Some say he is a shape-shifter.
There is talk of his affiliation with The Watchers and some say even The Illuminati… Well…
I tend to agree… In a way…
Back then he drove a pearl green Nissan Pathfinder. I was maybe four years old.
He has always driven us to school. For as long as I can remember, on my way to school, dad and I always sang and prayed and talked and played every school day. He loved us unreservedly.
That morning, he wore black jeans under a flowing white jelabia (traditional native dress). Everything was normal. I was seated at the back and screaming songs as they played off his CD player.
We got to school and he parked across the building along the street.
As always he would clown a bit before opening the door behind the drivers seat to let me out.
School was for 8 am. But dad was always there by 7 am. I was usually the first student to school.
He was standing out there and making faces at me through the window when suddenly a car hit him.
It seemed to have come from nowhere. I screamed as his body was tossed in the air and then he hit the asphalt before rolling towards the other side of the street.
l looked and saw his white jelabia suddenly turn crimson with blood and dirty brown from dust, mud and dirt.
He was not moving.
I remember screaming “Papa!”… “Papa!!”
I can’t remember how long I screamed and cried. But it was a while.
The engine was still idling, music and the air-conditioning still on. I was frightened and confused.
Suddenly there was a ‘ratatat’ on the window and I whipped towards it, my hands wiping tears from my eyes.
My dad stood by the window.
He looked different. Like a good ghost. He was still dressed the same way, but he was a sparkling white.
I looked past him to where his body had fallen…he was still lying down there immobile.
Even though I was young, I knew this was not a good sign. So I tried to open the door to get to him… To them? It would not open… (Child lock).
I looked up at dad’s ghost… He was pointing at something in front like on the seat. I slid toward the front and climbed into the drivers seat looking frantically about. I could not see anything he would want.
I looked… He was by the drivers side window now still pointing… Toward the other seat?
Then I got it… His phone!
I snatched it up and held it toward his ghost… And he rewarded me with a wan smile.
But my face fell as he held up his hand… His usual gesture that meant, ‘wait’.
He closed his eyes as though in deep concentration… Opened them and looked at his phone.
Closed his eyes again, Papa looked like he was going to cry… Opened his eyes and looked at the phone again.
It looked like every time he closed his eyes, he faded. He was weakening.
By the fifth try, I could see through his ghost. I could see his body still bleeding out on the street and my school beyond him.
Then I noticed he had placed his right palm on the window for the first time since his apparition appeared… Again, though I was a kid I intuitively knew he had given up and required I place my palm on the window opposite his. I screamed out, “no!”
He was visibly taken aback by my action and he gazed solemnly at me for a few seconds… Eyes full of tears, I held his gaze… Then he shut his eyes again…
Immediately his phone started to ring, with my heart pounding I glanced up at him and he gestured that I pick up.
“Hello”…, I remember saying to whoever was calling,
“a car hit Papa and I think he is dead”…
“at my school”…I told the screaming lady that called.
By the time I looked up, Papa’s ghost was smiling at me, yet I wept. He was almost like smoke now. But he pointed to his phone again, and it rang once more.
I recognised her voice immediately. My grandmother. His mum. Bawling now, I sobbed out the story. She calmed me down and while we were still speaking, my mum and some uncles arrived within minutes of each other.
Dad was the victim of a freak hit and run accident. The driver did not stop and was never caught.
He broke one leg in two places. Several ribs. Ruptured his spleen. Broke a collarbone and his wrist.
In less than a year though, he was fully healed. To the amazement of everyone.
Only he and mum know the identity of the lady who called him that fateful day. She was the one that called mum. My parents never speak of that part of the incidence or of her. Ever.
I stopped calling him ‘Papa’ after that accident. He became ‘dad’. No reason.
Only he and I know what happened that fateful day. Well you do too (now). We have no need to speak of it.
We became friends, soulmates, confidants after that. Yes, and father and daughter.
He almost gave up and died, and I refused.
No big deal.
He has always loved big cats, guess he simply lost one of his nine lives.