House of Mourning: Jon

You know your stepfather isn’t doing well, Jon.

As Jon read the text message, he heard the words in his mother’s judgy voice. He could picture her eyes, the same shade of blue as his, but smaller and mean. Small and mean, pretty much described his mother as a person.

It wasn’t a text he wanted to answer.

His sister Faith wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving. She hadn’t spoken to their mother in years, and she hated their stepfather. She got her stubbornness from their father.

It would have been so easy for Jon to assign her some of the blame for their family’s deterioration. But it wasn’t exactly the truth.

Charles Lynskey was a prominent and accomplished defense attorney in the small Massachusetts town where Jon and Faith were born. He was a formidable man in his prime, handsome and successful. When Jon and Faith were young, their father’s demanding career required him to work long hours. Sometimes when he was home, he had to work too, not able to spend a lot of time with his family.

But they had plenty of money. In between cases, Charles did his best to catch up on everything he’d missed. He took his family out to restaurants to celebrate birthdays and milestones or to the movies for fun nights. Sometimes he took all of them on weekend vacations.

To Jon, those outings between cases were something to look forward to as a boy. He waited for each break, excited at the prospect of where they would go next, what they would do.

As time passed, Jon began to notice that his mother and sister were growing increasingly resentful during their outings with his father. When Jon was little, he was not aware of their unhappiness. By the time he reached his teens, he started to see the true state of his family.

Charles was able to work so many hours as a successful attorney because of a cocaine addiction. His addiction was a source of fury for his wife, who was worried that someone else would find out. Whenever Charles was high on cocaine, his wife would send him to sleep on the couch, which eventually led to him spending more nights late at the office., fucking secretaries and interns.

Those infidelities and his substance abuse poisoned the time Charles spent with his family. Faith developed the same level of hatred towards their father as their mother had. The times when their father wasn’t busy with cases would often turn into huge fights between him and their mother. These arguments would leave their mother in tears, alone in her bedroom. Faith rarely spoke to him by then. 

After one of those fights, Jon remembered sitting alone and confused on the couch. His father took a seat next to him, defiant and frustrated, his smile didn’t reach his eyes.

“You’re my boy, right?” his father asked.

Jon nodded.

“Never get married, Johnny,” his father said meaningfully. “Never fucking get married.”