By Deadly Chakram <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: March 2017
Summary: No one sees you quite like your family does. Lois Lane reflects on her father as he speaks during a press conference.
Story Size: 1,808 words (10Kb as text)
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I make nothing. All characters, plot points, and recognizable dialogue belong to DC comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions and anyone else with a stake in the Superman franchise. The first two-and-a-half lines came from a Complete the Story book as a story prompt.
It was odd to be in a room full of people who all seemed to look up to my dad like he was some kind of hero. A part of me wanted to see him through their eyes just for a moment. I tried to picture him as they did — a brilliant doctor who’d saved the careers of countless sports icons. I wanted to see him as the man who’d invented new medical techniques and improved upon existing ones. I wanted to see him as a genius, the way they did.
All I saw was the rat bastard who’d destroyed and then abandoned his family.
And yet, there he was, on stage, blattering on about his latest achievements at a press conference, his chest puffed out with pride, basking in the adoration he saw in every person’s eyes. And I wondered why I was even there. I wasn’t there as a reporter — Tim was covering the press conference — a fact I was eternally grateful for. Perry doesn’t know that Sam Lane, the world-renowned sports doctor, is my father, and I want it to stay that way.
I wasn’t attending as a proud daughter either. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt any warmth over our shared bloodlines. Why should I have? I haven’t seen much of him in the last six years, give or take, ever since the epic fight we’d had during my final year of high school. That had been the precursor to me moving out of his place. And the few times we had gotten together since then were always stiff and awkward. I think we are usually both more than relieved when those dinners or holiday visits are over and it becomes time to go our separate ways.
So why was I there?
I can only answer with “curiosity.”
I wanted to see what he was up to. I wanted to see if maybe, miraculously, he’d changed in the two years that had elapsed since we’d last seen one another, face to face. I wanted to see if I could put aside all the hurt and disappointment he’d caused in my life. I wanted to see him as a hero, the way everyone else did.
So I hid in the back of the crowd, well behind the press, well behind Dad’s colleagues. I stood behind the other medical professionals who’d come to pay their respects to Samuel Lane — a man who they viewed as a god amongst themselves. I concealed myself in the crowd of what I can only describe as his fans — families whom he’d helped, and people who praised him for saving the careers of sports figures they idolized. I’ve never felt so out of place before. Because I was none of those things. I wasn’t a reporter — though I had cheated my way into the auditorium by flashing my press pass. I wasn’t a fellow doctor. And I certainly wasn’t a fan. I wasn’t someone who felt indebted to him in any way.
I was the only person in the room he’d ever wronged.
I made extra certain that he never saw me. I didn’t want him to know I was there. Because then I would have had to make the expected small talk and pleasant conversations that blood ties demand. I would have needed to plaster a smile onto my face and pretend to be happy and half-agree to dinners I didn’t intend on going to with him.
It’s not that I don’t love my dad. He’s my dad. Of course there is a part of me that will always love him. But I can’t forgive him for all the hurt he’s caused me. I can’t look at him and not remember all the fights he picked with Mom. I can’t hear his voice and not hear disappointment there. I’m only too aware that my dad always wished for sons, not daughters. I don’t know why. He’s never given any reasoning for that. It’s never mattered, the reason why, at least to me. All that matters is that he was given two daughters instead. Two squalling disappointments that emerged from his wife’s exhausted, laboring body. Two complete failures at giving him the family he truly wanted.
I’ve always had to live with that knowledge. And I’ve always wondered if his harsh criticisms of me have been because that’s just who he is or if it’s a sick passive-aggressive thing he does because I am Lois, not Louis. He hasn’t even had the decency to limit it to one area either. He’s always criticized everything. My grades — a ninety-eight meant I had two more points for improvement. My dates — Jack’s hair was too long, Kenny seemed unintelligent, Rob looked like a drug addict, even though he wasn’t. My career choice — I could have been a nurse instead of a reporter, or a teacher, or a stockbroker, or some other, more acceptable choice in his eyes.
It’s built up a lot of resentment, over the years. A lot. For a long time, I felt like I wasn’t good enough, at anything. Not at being a daughter. Not at being a girlfriend. Not even at being a reporter, which, I think is why winning the Kerths that I have has been so important to me. Because, in those moments, when my name has been called and I’ve stood, dazed, from my seat to make my way onto that stage, I know that I am a good reporter. But those moments are fleeting and the next day I am plain old Lois, only as good as my next story. Still, the wins have been confidence boosters. Along with Perry’s guidance and praise, I’ve managed to shake off some of the shadow of Dad’s disappointment in me.
What must it be like, to be my father? To have stood in a room of people who all thought he’s some kind of hero. To have his deep character flaws hidden by a pristine white lab coat. To have basked in the worship of the ignorant masses.
It’s laughable, really, that Sam Lane could be mistaken for a hero. Heroes are supposed to be selfless and kind. They are supposed to be willing to go the extra mile for people. They are supposed to protect people from harm. They are meant to be dashing and loyal.
None of those requirements have been met by my father. He is not a selfless man. He’s always been motivated by the almighty dollar. One day, I swear, he’s going to follow the money to the ruin of his career, if he isn’t careful. He isn’t always kind. He tries, in his own way, but his words and actions don’t always mirror one another. Bringing a bouquet of flowers to dinner doesn’t erase all of the criticisms or dinners cancelled because “something came up.” The only people he’s ever gone the extra mile for have been his patients. He’s always given them his undivided attention while ignoring the needs of his family.
And you can forget about the idea of protecting people from harm. If he cared at all about that, he never would have slept around with other women. He would have remained loyal to Mom. Maybe her drinking wouldn’t have gotten so bad, if her husband had stayed true and given his interest to his wife and children. Of course, Mom’s drinking is one of the “reasons” Dad gave when probed about what had driven him to seek companionship outside of their marriage.
Yes, the only people he’s ever really helped have been his patients. They’ve always been his top priority. Everyone else has come second, if they’ve even registered as important at all.
For those in the sports world, he’s only ever taken pain away.
For his family, he’s only ever been the cause of it.
I hate it. I hate that he’s never seemed to care about our family. For once, I’d like to see him genuinely care about our feelings. I want him to do something — anything! — to prove that he really does love us. I hate that, as I looked on today at the press conference, I couldn’t look at him with the same respect and adoration as everyone else that had gathered there. I hate that no one else knows the real Samuel Lane — the man who cheated on his wife, who views his daughters as disappointments, who never wanted to be at home — often working overnight shifts in his lab just to be away from us all.
I envied those people today. I craved their ignorance as to the real Sam Lane. I wished I could see him with their eyes — to only know him for the brilliant doctor that he is. And yes, even with my jaded eyes, I can admit that, as a doctor, he is an admirable man who has done a lot of good for his patients. I wished that, barring the ability to see through the eyes of the masses, that they could see him through my eyes. How would they react if they could see their hero’s personality laid bare, to be privy to all of the sins he’s committed against the people who should mean the most to him? Would they turn their backs on him? Or would they drown him in sympathy, willfully casting him in some twisted way as the victim?
Maybe if I lived in some fairy tale world — a place of wonder and magic — that could have happened. I wouldn’t have hesitated to weave a spell around myself to blind my mind to all of my father’s unheroic deeds and traits. Ignorance is, after all, supposed to be bliss. But I don’t live in a world of magic. There are no unicorns, no wizards, no extraordinary man who will swoop in and heal the hurts in my heart that my father — and the world — has caused. There are no heroes.
It’s too bad really, because with the family I have, I could really use a hero right about now. Instead, I need to be my own hero. I need to shove aside all of the emotions that seeing my father today brought to the surface. Because tomorrow is a new day. Who knows what surprises it might bring?
And maybe, just maybe, it will bring me a true hero who will save me from myself.