Then the man said,
“There was once a couple, they had twelve children. The middle child said to them, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m leaving your community.’
With sadness, they said, ‘Alright son.’ And he left. After leaving he burnt down the inner world they had built for him. He wasted everything he had. As a consequence, his inner world became devastated by famine. And he felt alone. At a deep, deep level. And he wished, he prayed, for it all to come back. To get back to the good old days. Any stimulation. So he drowned himself in it.
After long last, he came to his senses. He said, ‘Everyone else is in close(d) communities. Here I am starving to death. I’m going to create my own party. In this party I’m going to bring together individuals from the various close(d) communities. And I’m going to invite my parents. I’ll say to them, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m throwing a party and I’d love for you to come.’ He messaged them right away.
Instantly they respond, “YES! YES!”
Excitedly he went right to work. First he cleaned the house. Polished the silver. Cleaned the toilet. Even wiped down the mirrors. Then he sprang to work in the rest of the house. Dusting places that hadn’t been touched for years. Finally, after hours, he breathed a breath of contentment and relief. Then stopped. The task was complete. Now to the next job.
Quickly he rushed to the grocery store and bought bags and bags of food. Carefully picking through the produce for the optimum quality. This was to be a party of parties. A time for kings. Finally he got back to the kitchen. For the final phase. The party was almost ready. He smiled.
Then the calls started to come in.
“Sorry, something came up,” then “Sorry, next time,” and also “Sorry I’m really tired.”
But he shook it off. It’s ok. The rest of us will not be held back by their reluctance he thought. This will be the best party! And back to work he went.
Then he dropped the bowl of pudding. Quickly he scooped it up. And wiped it down. Then he realised he forgot the cumin. Back to the store he ran. When he finally got his hands deep into a batch of dough, his phone started to ring. With a grunt he quickly wiped his hands and picked it up. “Hello?”
“Where are you?”
With dismay he glanced at the time. Oh no! It’s the time!
“Sorry. I’m behind time. Can you entertain the guests?”
Then he dropped the phone. Right into the dough. “Oh Please!” Slowly coming to terms with reality he dug it out and tossed it aside. “It’ll be fine!” he consoled himself, and went back to mixing. Finally with a breath of satisfaction he put the rolls into the oven.
“Now we wait.” “And we should be eating.” “But we’re waiting!” “They’re gonna be pissed.” “And I’m justing sitting here.”
Then he noticed the flashing “missed messages” light on his phone, with some reluctance he picked it up. ‘Almost ready.’ he responded to all. Then flung the phone across the room;
Twenty minutes later he arrived at the party, furious. When he reached the door he breathed a couple breathes to calm himself. Then opened the door. “Sorry” he whispered to everyone. “Ya’ll ready to eat?” he asked in jest. Everyone laughted politely. And they had a merry time. Until it happened.
Halfway into his burrito he suddenly picked it up, flung it across the room, and stormed out. Jumped into his car and sped off. “They won’t ever want to see me again,” he thought. “I don’t want to be seem like this by anyone,” is what he meant. And “Nobody wants a piece of shit like me around,” is what he meant by what he thought that he meant.
Then his phone started to ring. Ignore.
Again it rang. Ignore
And a third time it rang. Ignore.
The next day it rang again. And the next day. And the next. For months this went on. Then years. Still ever single day the phone would ring. And he would swipe left.
Eventually the calls slowed down. Then stopped. And his heart broke. Because he knew, he knew that he was beyond repair. That he had missed the boat.
Forty years passed.
As he was nearing his seventy-fifth birthday he suddenly realized, “Well I guess it’s now or never.” Slowly he hobbled over to his car. And drove back along that long dusty trail. I’m coming home.
Half an hour later he started recognizing pieces of his childhood. A crooked tree here. Enlarged. A few somewhat familiar building peppered the landscape. Then he arrived. Seeing the house he choked back a sob. Slowly he made his way out of the car. As a pack of children came running out of the house. They danced around him shouting, “It’s Uncle Barth!” In confusion he stared at all those children shouting his name. Finally he choked out, “How do you know who I am? Why are you excited? I’m not a nice person.
“Sure you are.” The tall freckled girl said with a grin, “You’re Uncle Barth! Grandpa told us all about you! About how you make the best parties. And how you care about people. He told us all about you. He thought you were the coolest! And he said that one day you would come back, and then, then you could teach us as well. Teach us please. Please!”
He couldn’t take it anymore and he began to weep. And as he wept he threw his arms around her. As his shoulders shook he felt numerous little arms wrapping around him.
Then he laughted, the first time in decades, “What do you wanna know?”