I watched them in the restaurant. It was their first date. He was awkward and spilled water on her new dress. She flirted too much with the waiter. He tried too hard to be funny. She showed too much cleavage. Mom and Dad, not the best first date ever.
I saw them at their wedding. Mom was happy. Dad was happy. Mom looked terrific in her dress. Dad was in a suit and had sideburns that were way too big. We used to laugh at their wedding photos when I was a kid.
I saw my birth. Dad was there for Mom, helping her through the delivery, kissing her afterward. Mom was there for me. Both were so happy. I saw my first birthday, first Christmas, first day at school.
I saw Dad start to look at other women when we all went out to dinner. I saw Mom try not to notice. I saw Mom staying up for Dad while he was “working late”. I saw Mom start to drink more. I saw Dad start to leave more. I saw Mom cheat. I saw Dad cheat. I saw myself in my room, alone.
I saw that night. I made myself watch. I had to.
I saw Dad come home late at night. I saw Mom, drunk, cell phone out, texting. Dad asked Mom a question. “Honey, can you grab me a beer?”
Mom left the cell phone out when she left the room. I saw Dad pick it up, read the text message she'd received. I saw his face grow red. Mom came back in the room. She saw his anger too. She threw the beer bottle at Dad's head and missed.
“Don't act so shocked. You've been cheating on me for years!” she yelled.
He threw the cell phone at her and didn't miss. It hit her in the mouth. I saw Dad's face soften as blood trickled down my mother's chin. Mom grabbed a vase nearby and threw it Dad. This time, it hit. It got Dad in the chest. Dad's body rocked back at first, then he regained his balance. He ran full steam into Mom knocking her over. I saw their fists fly and heard their screams and grunts. I saw Dad on top of Mom, his hands wrapped around her throat. I saw the life drain out of her.
I watched as he stood up, looked around the room. He picked up the vase, it hadn't shattered. He got a towel and mopped up the spilt beer. He swept up the pieces of the bottle. He had to step over Mom to get in and out of the kitchen to get the broom and to brush the bits of broken glass into the bin. I watched as he sat on the couch and cried. I saw myself then, sixteen, coming home from a night with friends. I saw Dad, then Mom, then I left.
I went back to the night of their first date. I sat at the table with them. They didn't seem surprised to see me. “Please don't do this,” I said. “I don't want to see that night anymore.”
They both looked at me and laughed.
And then I woke up. I got dressed. I went to visit my father in prison.