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By the way, did you know that Mom died?

Connotation Press 2011

May 8, 2012

By the way, did you know that Mom died?

Her first instinct was to cross over to the other side of the street when she saw her father walking towards her talking on his cell phone laughing and gesticulating. She began to sweat, something she rarely did and her hands and knees trembled as she stood across from him at the curb, both of them waiting for the light to change.

On the green, she stepped down onto the street and felt as if she were stepping into the deep end of the pool. She looked up and he looked at her looking at him and he nodded without breaking stride in either his walking or talking.

Now she was angry, angry that he didn't have the decency to say hello or ask her how she'd been or what her favorite ice cream flavor was. There were lots of things he could've asked her—do you twitter? What's your position on the Tea Party? What do you remember about me before I moved out and divorced your mother when you were only six—some twenty years ago?

This was their first chance encounter—that's what threw her. She only saw him when she planned to but this chilled her—she wasn't expecting it so she wasn't ready.

None-the-less she wanted to turn around and chase after him and ask him why he hadn't done as she did—track him down years ago and follow his life and new family and wait outside his work and watch him at the playground with his kids—her step-siblings. Why don't you care about me as much as I've cared about you she wanted to ask, but just as in all of her other planned encounters she neither said nor did anything to get his attention; but hurried home to her vodka bottle and her parent's wedding picture taken oh so many years ago when their eyes and smiles were filled with so much promise of the future and she silently toasted them each time she filled her glass.

* * * *

Her father was on the phone with his wife knowing that his daughter would be taking this path home from work and he told his wife that he saw her up the street walking his way and she encouraged him to stop her and chat and get reacquainted—bring her home for dinner and meet his step brother and sister. He swore that he would do it this time and he insisted that he would've if they hadn't been held up for the light that prohibited their crossing. During this time he got cold feet but decided to take the first step and smile or say hello. He described that moment to his wife and she urged him to turn around and offer to have a chat but he said that this was a big step and maybe next time when he watched her leaving for work or exiting the gym he'd summon up the courage. It was doubly difficult because in all the years she'd been back she never bothered to look him up or make contact. He knew she was poisoned against him and was terrified at her expected response. He, on the other hand, had been following her progress and life since the day she moved back.

He passed a bar enroute to the cab stand and wanted more than anything to go in and break his twenty year abstinence with a vodka rocks but the feeling passed and he went home to his wife and kids carrying his burden like a hay bale.

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