My father was a butcher, and when I was young I would visit him in his shop and walk among the hanging carcasses on the cutting room floor. Surrounded by pink and white flesh, and the stink of a chemically sterile death, I would look inquisitively and help my father locate the choicest cuts. He let me arrange the window dressing and choose which flavour of seasoned rissole should be today's pick. He taught me to use the register, the eftpos, the meat grinder, and even showed me how to use the silent alarm. I remember those years fondly, growing up with a father - one who loved to share their life with me. Someone who put me first, above all things, even above his own wellbeing. And I was always grateful, though, perhaps he never knew.
When I became a teenager, my parents had split up, and I'd made friends who liked to hang out after school. I no longer needed a dad, and I barely dropped by his store on my way home any more. One day, after a few weeks of not visiting, I noticed there was a "FOR LEASE" sign hanging in the door.
After he died, all I see every time I close my eyes, is my father's naked corpse swinging from a meat hook, surrounded by all those carcasses. Sometimes he's whole, and other times he's missing pieces, sometimes he's a torso, barely recognizable, headless. Other times his head is attached, and it swivels to look at me, with sad world-weary eyes. Tears are welling up around his eyelids, and he mouths the words "where were you?" or, "I love you". And then his pupils drop to the floor, silence prevails, and he doesn't move any more.