Some years back, my recently-passed father, Bob Morris, told me something that startled me.

You see, back in school, I had a very hard time with the other kids. Maybe some of them would put a different spin on it, but I don't care much what that might be. Unsurprising for an Elfen Lied fan, I was bullied and harassed, whatever you want to call it. The fact remained, a lot of people went out of their way to make me endlessly miserable on a continual basis. After a time, the school staff wasn't much help, and the teasing often became attacks. Much like our girl Lucy, I frequently made them regret those attacks, but that only meant they mostly pulled back and ran away after starting in. They got very good at that.

To this day, I can't watch fictional bullying almost at all, though part of that is the fiction's fault since most pieces never have payback remotely equivalent to what the bullies did in the story. I have a hard time hearing about others being bullied, to the point of almost feeling unhinged. When I was in college, long after all this had stopped, I one day realized, to my horror, that I was walking around with my one hand balled into a fist, as if to always be ready. One time, while Cher's "Half-Breed" played on the radio, I dreamed that I was a kid again, standing in front of my grandmother's house, while some of these kids came at me. I had a shotgun in hand and used it without hesitation, even gleefully mowing them down. I woke up terrified that this would always be with me. I've grown a great deal more functional over time, but really, it never has. It seemed to take forever before I could discern from an affectionate joke about myself to ones told at my expense, partly because the lowlifes would resort to defending their degrading words that way. I could make a list, but I won't, and with all respect, I do not wish to compare lists, either. I know others have seen worse, and I appreciate that, but it doesn't help.

Back to topic, one day long after my Dad told me that he felt he should have done more to stop all that. I was shocked that he would think this. He and my mother had often been my only support in that hell, that nightmare that went on for ten years. But he was for real, so I flatly told him there was nothing he could have done more than what he did. What was he going to do? Quit his job and follow a bunch of kids around? I continued on with him, making sure he understood I did not and could not ever hold him responsible for it. It was never even a thought in my head. I couldn't form it if I tried.

Older now, and with my head on a little more straight, I watched him as he battled an evasive, elusive enemy that I could do nothing to aid him against. I hold myself no more responsible for his cancer than I held him thus for my anguish in school. But now I understood. The urge and desire to protect someone you love shoved aside that kind of cold rationality. He wanted to change a rotten school system, one where the worst of suburban spoiled brattery mixed in with the worst of urban chaos to fashion a model of how not to run things. I wanted to defeat a disease that if I live to see its cure, I will give the middle finger to with joy in my heart. That's just the way you feel, when it's a certain set of someones left helpless by inexplicable pain.

Just today, while shopping,  I met a guy I knew from my second high school--the one where things finally got better. He also told me a story, one of how he and some other guys in my new school stopped some bullying on my behalf. I needed to hear this. Someone had stood up for me, even if it hadn't been in the nightmare school. Now I wonder if my father's spirit wasn't there, guiding this man to talk to me, which would be heartwarming and really really funny.

See, I'm the religious one. My Dad was an atheist. But I can honestly see him arriving and shrugging off having been wrong. He was like that, and maybe now he still is.

So you see, I get nearly everybody in Maple House. For today, I'm happy that I never knew the pain that young Kouta did, the emptiness Kaede did, and so on. Bob Morris was a positive presence in my life till the day he died. My stepmom thinks that one small act I did - playing four of his all-time favorite songs on my phone while he lay there (American Pie, Vincent, Lucky Man, and Horse With No Name) gave him comfort. Maybe today he directed some of that back again.

When I arrive, whatever my fate, I will take time to tell him 'I Told You So'. :D

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