Of Pawns and Kings, Fathers and Sons

October 31, 2013 — 3 Comments

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed.

Seraf approached his father, showed him the latest batch of bruises and was promptly told that he had a place to stay.

Normality appeared to be resuming itself. The fear in Seraf still existed even if his surroundings had changed. The separation of his parents twelve months ago had left him dangling. Confused. Frustrated.

A king piece in chess, with three pawns.

A king piece in chess, with three pawns. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The new accommodation was a white residential house, one that had been temporarily used by the town’s sole operating funeral home. The old house had a redesigned interior with a reasonable entrance which had been added on later. The kitchen was another story. It was deteriorated, the bathroom in serious need of repair and the garage still held remnants of a large cooler. There was also a curious smell that was difficult to erase.

Seraf’s unemployed father had signed on to the extravagant idea presented to him by his new father-in-law, that  in exchange for almost zero rent,  Seraf’s father could renovate the place.

Seraf’s bedroom had once held mourners who would come to view the departed. The coffins had long since been removed although an old trolley remained. In retrospect, it is likely that the use of the room was a softer version told to him in order to put to rest any concerns he may have had about the living arrangement.

Not long after Seraf’s move. His stepmother gave birth.

The months that followed continued on their merry way, until one evening Seraf was pulled aside by his father and given a bulky tape recorder. Puzzled by the gift, Seraf enquired as to what it was for.His father told him that he was to attend a pre-Christmas gathering. There his Stepmother’s family would all be present. Seraf was to accompany her to her parent’s house, most of them strangers, and record everything that might be said regarding his father[1].

For Seraf, the deep tone of his father’s pleading could not sooth the terror attached to the task assigned to him:

“I need you to do this for me son, there is no one else I can trust”

Although the young Seraf objected he went along, all the while trying to work out on how to carry out his mission or better yet, avoid completing it.

Not far from his destination Seraf concluded to himself:

“If I stay in the car and don’t go into the house, I wouldn’t have to carry out my father’s wishes”.

As he had reasoned he would passively defy his father’s maligned request. So Seraf sat in the car for hours, ignoring pleas from his stepmother to join the pre-Christmas family gathering.

When the evening was about to close and night-time was well underway Seraf had held the line. As he moved closer to the freedom it promised Seraf revelled in the brilliance of his plan. Feeling a sense of achievement in his resolve, Seraf relaxed.

This was a tactical error because it loosened the tension of the status quo. Something he had successfully maintained for over four hours.

His plan fell to pieces. His stepmother and her brothers approached him. With matriarch in tow they cross examined his reasoning.

Hours of passive resistance were futile. He confessed to the interrogators that he was sent to record every conversation. Showed them the recording device he had concealed under the seat and unpacked his plan, telling his audience that he hoped to avoid using it by staying in the car.

Upon this revelation the audience and his interrogators withdrew. Seraf was left alone.

Yet, their response was calculated and swift. One of his stepmother’s brothers had convened the family, a decision had been made.

Seraf was to be taken back to his father told to tell him that his wife and new-born daughter were leaving him and would not return.

Like a young pawn before kings, Seraf’s course was chosen for him. Two unfair errands had now transformed him into one dark herald. Reduced to nothing more than a expendable messenger boy.

He arrived, was dropped off then farewelled.

Turning towards the door he saw no lights.

His new home, the old funeral parlour was bleak, dark and empty.

The unlocked sliding door which announced that it was the entrance slid open. The whole house was dark.

Once inside he saw nothing but darkness.

Navigating the furniture, Seraf eased forward. Giving each step serious consideration he moved through the old funeral home looking and calling for his father.

No answer.

He sensed nothing but silence and that inescapable curious smell fused together with remnants of oils used to cover over it.

At every light switch the fear grew and so did the volume of Seraf’s voice.

He uttered the words:



“where are you?”

The darkness was no friend. The surreal situation scared the thirteen year old. Trembling, he fought off images of finding his father’s dead body, images only made more real by knowledge of his fathers fatalism and comments he had heard his father make days earlier.

Leaving the bathroom to inspect last, Seraf made a cautious approach to every light switch.

The house made no noises.

Finally, Seraf approached the closed bathroom door and opened it. Through the darkness he saw…nothing.

The only thing allowing movement in his body was the adrenaline that pumped with every thumping beat of his heart.

Turning towards the area which was once a lounge room, he let out a scream.

“DAD, where are you? Stop hiding you’re scaring me”

Relief burst into tears as his father appeared from under a double bed and moved to the doorway.

“Where’s my wife, did you record anything?”

Still sobbing Seraf explained that he didn’t record anything because he couldn’t. He didn’t go inside the entire evening.

He then sat down and with the very best a thirteen year old could muster, Seraf do told his father that his stepmother and new born half-sister were leaving them.

[1] Whether Seraf’s father was invited to attend or whether he chose not to attend, is beyond this retelling and remains unknown to this day.

(This is a true recount of my own personal experience, only the names have been changed. This is for privacy purposes).

If you find yourself in the midst of despair hold fast to this:

‘…Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor.3:28)
‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand…I will make a way in the wilderness for you’ (Is.41:10 & 17-20)

3 responses to Of Pawns and Kings, Fathers and Sons


    That’s really good writing


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Thoughts, Post-Graduation « Gratia Veritas Lumen - July 11, 2014

    […] It is a reminder of the many moments where I was tempted to give up. Asking myself ‘what’s the point?’ or simply finding myself being addressed by a feeling of inadequacy and inferiority. Feelings, often compounded by darker echoes from my not-so-easy upbringing. […]



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