Day 305 – The Way Home – Part 3

So it seems I completely forgot to upload this one at the time!

Word count: 1010

The beach was sad. Maria had cried her eyes out. It was always hard to tell her, but he felt needed to tell her yesterday. Some days he would take her away from it all or delay telling her until the time came to start the day again. Others, he felt he needed to tell her. Somehow it made it real. Telling a child that it has lost its mother was more painful than anything he seemed to feel these days. The numbness might help long term, but sometimes he needed to feel; to remember.

Today was another day. He was going to make it as ordinary as possible. He made her favourite breakfast as usual. He called in work to say he’d be slightly late as he would be dropping Maria off at school. He lay in bed with Natasha for a while.
“I love mornings like these,” she smiled, biting into her toast.
“Me too,” he gazed into her eyes.
She kissed him. He so much wanted to kiss her back, properly: for it to never end. But he couldn’t. He withdrew, somewhat coldly; he regretted.
“What’s wrong?”
“Oh, just tired, that’s all.”
“Shame, I like morning s-”
“Mummy, can I stay home today?”
Maria had just stomped into the room, half dressed in her school uniform.
“Aw sweetie no, you have to go to school.”
Sam was tempted to let her take the day off, but he could not cope with a family outing. He could not have another emotional day like yesterday.
“Don’t look at me, I agree with her!”
“Her?”
“Yeah – what’s your name again?”
Natasha grinned and narrowed her eyes, “Tonight I’m going to get you.”
Sam’s heart sank. There would be no tonight for her.
“Come on, let’s get you off to school.”
Within a few minutes Sam had successfully redressed his daughter and belted her into the car. They waved goodbye to Natasha from the car as she stood in front of the curtain by the window. She looked ghostly already.
“Why can’t I stay at home?”
“Because you have to go to school!”
“But I hate school. I want to stay home and make a den.”
“Maybe tomorrow, honey, okay?”
Sam drove into the school grounds and parked. He turned around in the driver’s seat and looked back at Maria. She was playing with her sleeves.
“I love you, little princess.”
“I love you too, Daddy,” she repeated distractedly.
Sam smiled and got out of the car and opened Maria’s door.
“I’m sorry but you can’t park here,” a voice yelled across the playground.
He turned to look in the direction it was coming. There, a few metres away, stood the woman from yesterday.
“Miss Stephenson!” Maria yelled, running over to her.
“Ah, sorry about that,” Sam apologised. “I’ll move it in a second.”
“Thanks, it’s just that if we let one parent get away with it, this place’ll be like a supermarket carpark in no time.”
“No worries.”
“How’s er – how’s Maria doing at school?”
“Very well, she’s an absolute pleasure to teach.”
“That’s good – no that’s really good. I’ll – I’ll go now. Work to get to.”
“Okay, nice meeting you.”
“You too.”
Sam got back in the car and made his way to work. It was strange to think that Maria was twenty now. All those years ago in primary school were now the current days she led. University and all those partying nights were ahead of her. She told Sam not to do it. She had begged with him not to go through with the plan. Driving along to work now, he remembered how he promised her he wouldn’t. This had where his broken promise had led him: to the dead end of nowhere, always reliving the pain of the wound he had tried to heal.
The work day happened as usual. He received the same phone calls from his colleagues, clients and sales. He emailed the same replies and went through the same paperwork. He ate a different lunch. He had coffee instead of tea. The phone call came as usual. Today was shock instead of tears. Sometimes he forced them, just to sound as if he didn’t know what was going to happen. He felt like he was betraying Natasha when he did that; he felt that he should be crying – and all the time.
His boss gave him a hug and told him to go to the hospital, as usual. He drove to the top of the hill overlooking the city and sat there. Ever since that morning he was not thinking about today; he was thinking about the future. He was thinking about Maria growing up – yes without a mother – but what a wonderful girl she had become. She had done well in school. She went on dates; she went to the high school dance; she had a gorgeous figure; she had gorgeous eyes. He remembered the holidays they took together; the nights they would spend going out into the countryside to watch the stars. He remembered the day he first taught her the constellations. He remembered she came home one day listening to the music he loved; only to be mortified that he would have ever heard of it. He remembered her first set of exam results. He remembered the first time she stayed over at a friend’s. He remembered her sixteenth, her eighteen and all the plans she was making for her twenty first.
The sun began to set in a muddled amalgamation of cloud, haze and incoming fog. As darkness fell he drove back to the house. It was almost time to go back. He only really had a few minutes to spare. He dashed through the house, barely turning noticing that in fact the front door was open. He rushed out to the back garden and swung open the shed door. He prepared the machine and closed his eyes: maybe one day he’d wake up and it would all be a dream, but for now reality would have to do.

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~ by S.G. Mark on August 7, 2012.

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