The black man stood a fair distance from the group of mourners at the gravesite. His nervous fingers worried the soft hat in his hands. He was dressed in his Sunday best – a worn blue suit, freshly pressed. The occasion demanded it.
It wasn’t every day a man buried his father.
He couldn’t make out the minister’s words, but Moody guessed the content. His old man had been a pillar of the Schuyler Falls Methodist Church. Moody watched the faithful dab their eyes.
People only see what they want to see, he thought.
Not so when it came to Granny Ella, standing ramrod straight at the foot of her son’s grave, eyes fixed on something only she could see.
No fake sentiment there.
She knew too well the stiff-necked nature of the man being buried.
Finally the service ended and Moody watched as Granny Ella and the others departed. He then made his way to where his father’s body rested.
“So, daddy, looks like it’s just you and me. Been awhile, hasn’t it? I gotta few things I need to say.
“You never figured me for much, did you? Since I was a young ‘un, you said I was a disappointment. Never mattered how hard I tried; nothing was ever good enough. How many times you reckon you said I’d never amount to anything?
“Well, it’s a fact that if you don’t expect much from folks, you don’t get much in return. Every bad prophecy you made about me has just about come true.”
Moody ran a hand through his crinkly hair. The feel of it still surprised him. He smiled. “Guess I look a bit different to you now, don’t I? This black skin of mine…”
“Life’s strange, daddy. One night, just when I was feeling the devil in every corner, God gave me a miracle. This old Black man come up to me and he looked deep inside my soul. Said he saw something good there…
“This sounds crazy, but I think he might’ve been an angel. He asked me how much I wanted to come home and start over, how much I wanted to see Granny Ella again. Next thing I know, he was gone.
“But here’s the thing – he gave me his face and his color. I was able to escape the past and come back here. Gave me a new start, he did.
“Funny thing… when he looked inside me, he saw a person of value. Why couldn’t you?”
Moody sighed, shaking his head for what might have been.
“Daddy, you know anything about pearls? A pearl begins its life as an irritant, lodging itself deep inside an oyster’s soft body. Now, that old oyster, he can’t escape the pain that irritant causes. To protect himself, he secretes a substance that covers it, layer after layer… until finally, this thing of value, a pearl, is formed, and all the irritation is gone.
“I guess you were my irritant, daddy. All your meanness, your harsh words… I covered ’em over, buried ’em beneath a protective coating. They don’t hurt me anymore.
“I made a pearl out of your meanness. Like that angel told me, I’m a person of value now.
“I wanted you to know that – and to know something else. You were my daddy and you didn’t do right by me… but I forgive you.”
Moody paused, surprised at the unexpected moisture in his eyes.
“Yeah, I forgive you, daddy – ’cause that’s what a person of value does.”
Word Count: 582
Author’s Note: Story written in response to ThainInVain’s weekly fiction prompt (here). This week’s prompt was to take a favorite character from one of our previous stories and write a story about him / her utilizing the word oyster.