Day 318 – The Way Home – Part 4

Word count: 728

It was time to pick Maria up from school again. The police had phoned and told him the news. The usual continued to happen. He phoned the school and informed them he would be coming to pick Maria up. Sometimes he tried to hide the truth from Maria. Occasionally it was simpler that way. But sometimes the right thing to do had to be done. He needed that sense of balance. It helped him keep focussed every day.
Traffic was bad that day for some reason – perhaps he had accidentally done something that morning to affect it. The world he lived in was never exactly the same. It might be exactly the same weather more or less and the main events were exactly the same, but the odd little detail was likely to change by the little ripples of effect he had on the world. Whether he went to work that day or found a coffee shop to sit and contemplate in all day, he always found that his actions would in some way change the course of events. If he took the wrong road to work, he might aide the traffic on the return journey; if he left Maria stay at home, the mail man occasionally came early. It was all very random and unpredictable, but it was those little changes that kept him from going insane.
Sam parked the car in the school grounds. The headteacher was already in the car park waiting for him.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so very sorry,” she offered her condolences.
“Maria doesn’t know yet, does she?”
“Of course not. She is still in class; we thought it would be best…”
“Do you mind if I..?”
“Yes, come right in. I’ll show you to her classroom.”
“Thanks.”
Sam had never actually been in the school. From fabled memory, he had simply assumed that he had been inside given that he had visited it many times both in and out of this reality. Sam peered inside the many classrooms: lots of diligent children doing work, having circle time and throwing hands happily into the air, enthusiasm never quite matched by their teenage selves.
They finally came to the classroom that Maria was in, ending the impenetrable silence he was experiencing with the headteacher. He didn’t blame her at all – few people knew what to say in this moment, and he had experienced quite a number of those moments by now.
“Let me know if you need anything. I’ll be just through this door,” she pushed open the double doors that led presumably to another corridor or hall.
Sam looked through the rectangular glass window in the door and saw his daughter, head down and concentrating hard. He smiled, pride bursting through yet again.
“If only you were this good at studying when you were fourteen, would have made my life so much easier, kid….”
Sam knocked on the door. Maria, and the rest of the kids, instinctively looked towards the source of the noise. Maria beamed at him, nothing could prepare her for what he was about to tell her, but that smile was going to make things so much more difficult.

A woman approached the door on the other side, she was oddly familiar.
“Can I help you?” she asked politely.
“I’m – I’m Maria’s father, is it alright if I speak with her?”
“Yes, yes, uhm, sorry what is it about?” she looked confused and kept on staring abnormally at his face.
“I thought they would have mentioned?”
“No, no? Sorry, have we met?”
“I er, I’m not sure, why?”
“Oh nothing, you just look very – never mind. I didn’t think I’d met Maria’s parents, I must be mistaken.”
A sharp pain rifled through his chest, “Maria’s mum died today.”
The woman instantly clapped her hand to her opened mouth, “Oh god, oh god… Oh god..”
“Please, she doesn’t know yet…”
“Well of course, yes please, go in and get her, please. Oh god. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Sam looked at her, “Don’t be, it wasn’t your fault.”
Sam opened the classroom door and his eyes locked on his daughter’s as he approached her once again to break the same old painful news. One day, if he could figure out how to stop it, he would never have to tell her again.

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~ by S.G. Mark on August 20, 2012.

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