Dirty Tiles

She wasn’t late; but then again, she never was. As soon as I pulled over I saw her, hunched over by the weight of books she was carrying. I had brought her up well: respectful and kind and most of all utterly perfect. And mine, always mine. When she entered the car, her blonde hair was hanging wet and limp around her face, flushed from the wind. She smiled warmly.

“You look tired,” she said, slightly concerned. “You alright, Daddy?”

“Always, Princess,” I replied. “Are you hungry? We can eat out tonight.”

Her laugh sounded surreal. So beautiful and untouched by life. It struck me how far gone I was in my worshipping of everything that was my daughter. “Don’t we always, though?”

The innocent yet blatant criticism to my skills as a parent was too harsh to contemplate. This was too important to fuck up. I would cook more often. It scared me how easily she could cripple my confidence, and not even on purpose. Genetically, she was built to destroy with a look, with a well-placed comment – I made it one of my life goals not to let her grow up into a stereotypically vicious woman. Should that stir her entire existence only to fail miserably, it was a risk I was willing to take. I was already risking everything; she was my favourite project, my most important list of numbers, my most important job.

I was being ridiculous, this could not fail. We drove in silence, her nose uncharacteristically not buried in a book. My precious baby.

“You’re too quiet, Daddy,” she said.

“I was just thinking, love. What do you want to eat?”

She thought for a second. “Can we get Chinese? It’s been a while.”

“We can get anything you want.”

I meant it too much for comfort, but it was something I had been living with for sixteen years. I was more than used to it. It was why, in retrospect, I must have been born.

***

When Alan woke up in the lonely double bed, soon after he returned home, he realised just how fucked up he was. Not in the motivational kind of way, the one that makes one get on a diet and cut down the alcohol. But in the way that pushes one to their limit. Why eat a salad when you could create the perfect being?

A different person might have adopted a cat, but Alan knew better. He was better than that. He was better than all of it, really. Why die, when you could build something more majestic than anything ever built before?

***

The light was on and I had no memory of leaving it like that. I had no memory of many things that had happened in the weeks before the incident. It was almost scary how easy memories could be wiped from someone’s mind. I remembered the blood on the dirty tiles, the stinging, and what I could easily identify as endorphins. Self-harm had always been portrayed to me as a horrendous thing to do, but it seemed more horrible to go out on the streets at night and rape innocent women. At least I kept to slitting my wrists in a poor attempt to die.

In hindsight, I never wanted to die. I was destined for greatness, even if it meant constructing my own greatness. Sweat for a reward, that sort of shit. I needed the absolute lowest point in order to get to my highest. It was thoughts like these that happened in my brain shortly after my suicide attempt. I can look back and realise I wanted to be that low. Master of my fate. Captain of my soul. And everything in between. My mind will sometimes work faster than I can process, and when it does, I end up on the floor of my bathroom, drenched in my own blood.

When they let me go, I blatantly lied about my sister coming to stay with me. I was never going to attempt suicide again; I had a purpose. They believed it after all those tests Dr. Flounders made me take. He said, he had never seen someone recover so well. I almost scoffed aloud.

It took me a mere month to find Anastasija. She illegally moved to England in the hopes of finding a better life, and it so happened, I held all the promises in my hands. I never allowed myself to feel anything for her. She was a tool, much like my razor, or my computer. I visited her every night and fucked her, no feeling involved other than the absolute need for her to give me a child. She was a stunning woman, unfortunate enough to be born in Russia. She had perfect genes – all I needed for my greatest achievement. She got pregnant within weeks, and had I believed in a God, I would have been so thankful. As it was, I cared for her as much as money permitted. It did a great deal.

When this perfect little girl was born, her blue eyes opened and I like to think they focused on my happy face. I know how sick I am. Anastasija thought I was a proud father. I was, in fact, a proud Creator. This fragile creature, delicate and lovely was, all in all, my hope for a future. I paid the mother of my child in full, kissed her forehead, and had her deported within a month. I never heard of her again.

I adapted to being a father quicker than I expected. I called her ‘Princess’ ever since I laid eyes on her, but in the back of my mind this constant nagging pointed to what I had known all along. My greatest failure was Amanda, the history teacher. This was atonement.

My Amanda was better: she was part of me. I had given her life and I would mould her to become whatever would suit my needs. If you want something done, do it yourself. Very well, I figured. I would do it myself. Here, I would play God to myself, as I was prone to do. I held in my hands the best relationship. If they all rejected me, if life rejected me, if I rejected everything I could have had because it would end in suffering, this could not fail. I would not fail, not ever again. My daughter, the only woman who would give herself to me completely, the only woman who would never refuse to love me the way I needed it.

But first, my daughter needed feeding. She would grow up to be strong, like her Daddy needed her to be.

***

For her entire existence, Amanda knew that the single most important thing in her life was her father. Her mother left after she was born, and despite how much her Daddy hated when she used bad words, she was happy the bitch was away. It meant never having to share the most important man in her life. Sure, he was a bit odd at times. She had found his little corner, as she liked to call it, and even with the strand of hair and the little vial of blood, she couldn’t bring herself to judge. He had taught her better than that.

It was fascinating to delve into the mind of her father. Discreetly, of course, so as not to disrupt whatever thought process he was having. He worked so hard to make her happy and offered her all she needed. In return, she would work twice as hard to make him proud. She could often recall the disappointment on his face. If she broke every last bone in her body it wouldn’t be as painful as sitting there watching his eyes disapprove. She should have known better than to lie to him. It was as simple as skipping a class, but to him it meant the world and by extension, to her too.

When he was away, she would get the red blanket from him and wrap herself in it, rereading his old copy of Sappho. Her fingers would hold on to his fountain pen, whispering the verses.

“Altar or love, crushing / a circle in the soft / smooth flowering glass.”

Occasionally she would bring a yellowed hanky to her nose to sniff it. It always smelled of him, in a deep, almost bodily way. It was crinkled and sometimes crusted. She didn’t think much about it. Amanda understood how important all those objects were to her father and she cherished them. They were always returned to the exact place she found them.

***

I knew the second I chose to give her more freedom that she would break my heart. More freedom meant her growing into her genes and eventually fucking me over. She got herself a boyfriend, a preppy looking boy by the name of Caleb. He came by to pick her up once and I laughed at how young he was. I told myself time and again she would grow bored, she would want something more. She would understand I was what she needed and not some spotty teenager. I had always been petty.

I wanted to strike her the day she came begging for a longer curfew just to go to a party. It wasn’t her staying out late that was killing me; it was the sparkle in her eye, the eagerness to leave me, the way she spoke about the boy. I allowed it, though. As if I could ever deny her anything.

I knew how to play it, though. “I guess I’m just afraid of growing old,” I said dejectedly. “Of you not needing me anymore.”

“Oh, Daddy!” she squealed before jumping in my arms. “Don’t be silly, you’ll always be my favourite man!”

Damn fucking right, Princess.

***

The bus ride, an otherwise mundane activity for Amanda, was rapidly becoming dreadful. There was a distinct tightness in her chest and the knot in her stomach pushed upwards. She wished she had less decorum, so she could simply vomit it out. Along with all the feelings. She fiddled with the earphone wire, not bringing herself to listen to any music. Her Daddy taught her better than to cry and cause a scene. The fickle drizzle kept taunting her. She checked the time again. Soon she would be in her Daddy’s arms and he would know what to do. He would make it all better.

***

The boy wouldn’t leave her alone. Every time she went out with him, I covered my face with a pillow and screamed into it. It was why I had to replace the goldfish five times – it was the closest I got to murdering something. The fucking thing was useless anyway.

Every now and then, as she was growing up, I had someone take care of my needs. Blonde, blue eyes – much like Amanda. It was so hard to wait for my baby to finally grow into the entirety that she would be as a woman.  I used to call one of the whores I knew and wipe my mind, enjoy the treacherous pleasure and eventually come back to who I was: a bastard who loves and was in love with his daughter. The same young woman I had counselled in such a way that she would one day come to me on her own. And for some unknown reason, I was feeling guiltier for cheating on her with this unnamed distraction than I was for loving her in a sick way.

No. There was nothing perverted. Nothing I could do about my daughter would ever be wrong, I adored her too much.

But for those minutes, five or ninety, I was void of her plaguing my mind; not thinking of how obsessively in love I was with her. I was my own man: free, free, free.

She walked in then, all over my freedom, just as I was feasting on this new distraction’s breasts. The nipple was hard between my teeth and I bit harder. The moan that greeted me was unearthly, almost a growl. I allowed myself to do it. I allowed the lie that I was not imagining smaller nipples in my mouth; later I would also allow the sharp razor slicing through my skin to take the guilt away.

Then she walked in and I found myself so imprisoned, shackled by guilt, whipped by the betrayal in her eyes. I found myself in such a whirlwind of pain and remorse that I came in my pants like an untried boy. As soon as the shameful pleasure ran its course I found myself crying, my face buried in the mistake’s breasts.

The emotion was short lived, and running on adrenaline, on the terror that I had lost my daughter, I sorted the woman out and sent her away. If she spoke, if flew over my head. I could feel the stickiness of my own release in my underwear, and it stirred a feeling I had always ignored. It reminded me of how beautiful my daughter was, and it reminded me of how much emotion swam in her eyes.

I found her in the corner I had in the attic, where I had all my landmarks. She was crying in the handkerchief I sometimes used to masturbate. The realisation of how much of a woman my sixteen year old daughter was hit me once more. I approached her, confused about what I wanted more: to cuddle her or to fuck her. I went with the safer option.

“Amanda,” I started, unsure how to continue. Her eyes were red. It stirred me again.

“I’m sorry, dad, I should have knocked. I just… Caleb broke up with me, and I hoped I could get a cuddle.”

She looked up at me and I swear I was getting hard again. “Oh, my poor Princess. Come, I’ll give you a cuddle,” I said and pulled her up to my arms.

I walked us to her room downstairs and laid her on the bed. I sat, trying to give her distance, but more importantly, to give me the distance I needed. The fragility and need in her eyes stirred my penis again.

She pulled me down, next to her and buried her head in my shirt, sobbing. “I was so ready to let him be my everything, Daddy.” The implication made me want to die. She was mine and mine alone.

I kissed her forehead. “There will be other people, not all men are arseholes,” I told her.

“I don’t want any other men,” she whispered and I thought I misheard her. I kissed her tears away, as fatherly as possible. “I’ll be Emma,” she told me, referencing her favourite Jane Austen novel.

I tilted her head back and smiled patiently while looking her in the eye. “I’m sure Emma’s father wouldn’t want to kiss her.”

Her eyes widened and she swallowed audibly. “Daddy?” She paused, searching my face. “You could never hurt me.”

I could break you in so many pieces, girl. I could ruin you. I will ruin you. It was your destiny the moment you came out of your useless mother’s womb. “That’s right,” I assured her and kissed her cheek. She smelled like moisturiser and tears. I was beyond gone with desire.

Her eyes kept on mine, so trustworthy and naive. My cock ached. “Emma’s father wouldn’t…” I started and found myself kissing her.

She bristled. I frowned; all my waiting and my planning for this reaction? I grabbed the back of her head, my other hand descending to her ass. She pulled back, her eyes still open.

“We can’t. Shouldn’t,” she whispered.

I kissed her forehead. “I know, Princess. But you want it,” I pressed. “I won’t hurt you like Caleb did.”

At this point her answer was irrelevant. I kissed her again, more powerful. She relaxed against me and puckered her lips. My hand flew to her breast and she made a sound I couldn’t place.

“I’m going to be your everything,” I whispered, and it wasn’t a request.

Her fingers grabbed my shirt and held on to it. “Promise?”

I smirked. She has finally started to fulfil her destiny. Amanda was going to make history for me, not teach it.