He hated everything related to Christmas. Preferably, he would stop going out his home. Christmas carols, decorated Christmas trees and flickering Christmas lights incensed him. Even watching television made him angry. Because of that – in the period – he turned the TV and phone off, he contacted with no one. He stayed at home, where any single light couldn’t be turned on, wrapped up in a blanket and made believe he was sleeping off the whole tiring year.
– Good morning, Mr. Ryszard, are you flying to your daughter again this year? – a grey-haired neighbouress asked him, when she was passed by before a staircase.
– Of course, Mrs. Helena, tradition is being done – Mr. Ryszard replied chivalrously with a stuck smile.
Mrs. Helena nodded her understanding, sighed heavily and marched off to do shopping. Probably, she knew it was a big lie, but she asked the question as each year and expected the same false answer.
Also, she exactly knew that Mr. Ryszard hadn’t seen his daughter for more than fifteen years. Because exactly on Christmas Eve was an anniversary of the day when he kicked her out of their house. Few days later he told his neighbours a story of her sudden win of a scholarship in the US.
For most of his life he raised her alone. When his wife died he promised himself their daughter would grow up to be a talented and beautiful woman with prospects of a great and rich life. Mirka wasn’t problematic until she met Jan. That adolescent enchantment distracted her from the most important things, i.e. her father, school and household chores. Rather than coming meekly back home at 9 pm, she slipped away in the middle of the night for secret dates. She appeared at school more and more seldom. Moreover, she shut out her father’s opinion, who was obviously against it all. Threats, requests, punishments and house arrest weren’t successful. It was exactly on Christmas Eve when she dared to come to his house with her pimply juvenile and announced she is pregnant. And not only that, she wanted to give birth to the baby! She was only seventeen.
Her father told her to choose: either she would abort the foetus and stay in home, or would choose that juvenile and begone. It didn’t worked. She choose him. It was then when her father hid in the darkness of his house for the first time. And he didn’t thought about where is his daughter, but about what he had to do, what people would say when the truth came to light. He hit on an idea, a genius plan; he came up with that trip to the US and prayed that she wouldn’t come to his house with a bun in the oven. It isn’t known what god he prayed to but his prayers were heard. Even excessively. Perhaps Mirka lived somewhere in the vicinity or miles from anywhere. As if the father and his beloved daughter, but also a man who worried more about strangers’ judgement than his child’s fate.
After a few hours of doleful meditation, Mr. Ryszard went outside his flat and headed towards the opposite one. He didn’t know what for. He knocked on the door and Mrs. Helena opened it.
– Could… Could you lend me some salt? I’m making sandwiches for my trip and… – Mr. Ryszard stammered out flushed. He realized his mistake and a possibility of his mystery coming to light.
– Shouldn’t you be on your way to the US now, Mr. Ryszard? – the neighbouress grasped the man’s lie.
– May I come in? – Mr. Ryszard felt he couldn’t make it any longer. When Mrs. Helena was moving around the kitchen with a stoic calm to brew a hot tea, her neighbour told her the story from fifteen years ago accurately.
– And you know what is the worst, Mrs. Helena? I don’t even know if my daughter is alive at all. I cursed her and kicked her out like a dog – he said embittered. A little teardrop rolled down out of the corner of his eye, but he quickly wiped it away, not wanting her to notice it.
– She is alive – Mrs. Helena said at last.
– Sorry? –Mr. Ryszard reacted as if he was waken up from amok – Could you repeat that?
– Your daughter is alive, Mr. Ryszard – the neighbouress smiled at the news. She felt a relief that she could finally tell him.
– But how can it be, where do you know it from? – the man was simultaneously cheered up and annoyed.
– Your daughter phones me sometimes. And always on each Christmas Eve. She asks about you, Mr. Ryszard, if you’re all right, and she extends her wishes to you. I can extend them at last – the neighbouress smiled kindly.
– Where does she live? How is she performing? How is she? – questions popped up like bullets from a rifle.
– She has three children, she married Jan as soon as she turned 18. Both work and live 100 kilometres away from you, Mr. Ryszard. Luckily, your daughter always phones about this time so she will tell you everything… Oh, can you hear that? I’ll ask you in a moment… – the neighbouress hastened to pick up the phone.
Mr. Ryszard couldn’t believe what was about to happen. He was feeling as if he was about to become a father again…