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Hello Dad (short story)

Harald Renner

"Hello, Dad," Sabine greeted her father with a warm smile and stepped energetically into the room.

The old man turned slowly at the sound of her voice and returned the smile. "Hello Sabine. Nice of you to come," he said, happily surprised.

She walked up to him, hugged him and sat down next to him on the cosy sofa.

"How are you?" she asked, gently touching his shoulder.

"Fine. You know that anyone over fifty who wakes up without pain is dead," he joked and winked at her.

She laughed out loud. "You're seventy-five," she reminded him.

"Never say things like that! Sometimes I even feel like I'm ninety," he mumbled.

"But you still go for walks?" she enquired.

"Yes, of course, my circulation needs it," he explained proudly. "I go for a walk every day, whatever the weather."

They looked out of the window and Sabine pointed to the blanket of snow outside.

"How are you coping with winter?"

"Terrible. Minus three degrees," he replied, frowning.

"But the sun is shining," Sabine followed up. "Then why did you say 'terrible'?"

"Because it's as smooth as glass. Do you think anyone else is gritting as they should?" he asked, making a sliding motion with his feet.

"Make sure you don't fall," his daughter admonished him.

"I will," he assured her.

"And what are you planning to do today?" she asked, tilting her head.

"Nothing more, just my routine. Always the same," her father explained, shrugging his shoulders.

"But you're healthy?" she asked, patting him reassuringly on the arm.

"Yes, thankfully. Wild horses wouldn't drag me to the doctors," he explained emphatically. "Besides, you won't get an appointment for months. Then you'll be healthy again or dead."

"Who said that about appointments?" asked Sabine, raising an eyebrow.

"From the telly, it's on the news every night."

"Do you watch a lot of TV?" Sabine wanted to know.

"What else am I supposed to do?" he replied. "But there are only reruns or quiz programmes or football."

"Do you sometimes meet up with someone?" Sabine wanted to know.

"What for? I don't know anyone anymore," he explained resignedly. "Everyone only talks about illnesses anyway."

"Dad, you can't grieve for mum forever," she said empathetically and took him in her arms. "You need to be with people again."

"And how is that supposed to work? I don't even know the names of the people in the house. Many of them have funny names," he sighed and shrugged his shoulders.

"You said you wanted to go to the senior meeting," Sabine reminded him.

"You wanted me to go there," he admitted reluctantly.

"So, did you go?"

"What am I supposed to do there? Listen to old people moaning?" he replied, shrugging his shoulders. "Besides, I can't understand anything when they're all talking at the same time."

"You said you wanted a hearing test."

"I don't need a test and I don't need things in my ears. They whistle and fall out all the time."

"Dad, I'm in a hurry and I have a lot to do. I'll see you again," said Sabine, who was already at the door and waved goodbye.

"Yes, Sabine, you do that," he replied and waved back. "How are you actually doing?"

But his daughter had already closed the door behind her.

Hans apologised to Renate for being late for the meeting in her café.

"I had to have a quick word with my daughter," he explained and pulled up a chair.

"That doesn't matter. Is everything all right with her?" asked Renate.

"Yes, she's got a lot on her mind with her own family. She's always in a hurry."

"Have you told her about your new headphones and how well they fit and work?"

"No, I completely forgot. I'll do that next time."

"But you have to admit, the tip about the senior meeting was a good one," she smiled. "How else would we have met?"

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