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Daisies and Glass
I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I thought as I buckled my seatbelt.
"All ready to go, Mike?" he asked.
"Sure, dad," I said. I wanted to cover up my suspicions. To spring them on him at the best possible moment. To catch him dead in his sneaky, low, conniving tracks. I hate him.
He drove us to the market. He hummed along to the radio. The host came on and said, "That was Ke$ha's new song 'Sleazy'. And right after this there will be fifteen minutes of your favorite music with no commercials."
Fitting, I thought, my dad humming to 'Sleazy'.
We got to the store and picked up a few things. Usual things like bananas, milk, bread, an onion. As we were walking to the front to check out my dad stopped. He grabbed the biggest bouquet of daisies off the rack.
"For a surprise for you mother!" he said giddily. I nodded and flashed a weak smile. I waited silently during the car ride home. I couldn't say anything. My speech, briefly rehearsed seemed false and uncoherent.
At home dad gave mom the flowers. Her face lit up; daisies were her favorite after all. When she kissed him she looked so happy and he--he didn't. I saw the fragile balance holding them together. A paper-thin wall of not knowing, doing, and me, knowing too much.
"Mom! I'm sorry! Mom, please? I just want to talk." I said to her locked door. Sobbing, she chocked out, "I know Mike. I know." there was a pause, then she opened the door.
"Come in," she mumbled. The drawers on their old dresser were hanging open from when dad, in his rush to leave, forgot to shut them. They hung open like mouths agape at what had happened here. I stepped into the room and heard glass crunch under my feet, I was glad I was wearing shoes. Every picture in the room featuring dad was smashed; only one picture with him survived the angry massacre. It was a picture of him and I; I was sitting on my bike, long since outgrown, and he was standing behind me, smiling proudly. That was the day I learned to ride a two-wheeler.
I made my way to the bed, side-stepping discarded tissues and shards of glass. I sat down next to her, "I'm so sorry."
"I know. Mike, I know you are. We both loved your father very much, and he still loves you."
"Okay, I love him too, I guess."
"The worst part is...the worst part is that I knew he was having an affair. I knew it! I knew it and I...I chose to ignore it. To put it behind me. And every day when he came home, I would wonder 'was he with her today?' He would bring me flowers and tell me he loved me, but he didn't really mean it, and by that point I didn't care!" Mom burst into tears again. I awkwardly placed my arm over her shoulders.
"Hussssshhhhh. Just be quiet. It'll be okay. Everything will be fine. Just shhhhhhh..." the fan blew one of the pictures over so that it was facing me. It was a picture from when Gabby graduated high school. She looked so happy; we all did. Mom, dad, and Gabby were smiling proudly and I was too. This got me crying, I remembered how happy we had been and how that would never ever happen again. No more family game nights or trips to the movies after church. No more family at all; we would become pieces of a puzzle with one lost forever-not quite whole.
"I'm sorry, honey," Mom said. She had stopped crying while I was thinking about the picture. "I'm sorry. This must be awful for you. It's awful for all of us."
At that point I couldn't do it anymore. I stood up and walked away.
"Mike! Where are you going?" mom asked as she got up to follow me. I walked purposefully to the kitchen, grabbed the phone and from memory called the only person I could think of.
Gabby got here twenty minutes after I called.
"Hi," I said as I went to the trunk to grab her suitcase.
"Hey, so, is it true? Are they really splitting up?" Gabby asked.
Hackettstown, New Jersey
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