The Routine

April 7, 2008
By Ginny Reed, Greenville, SC

“I love you” her dad said as he took off his garnet tie, the one he monotonously wore every day for the past twenty years.

Most kids found these words routine, but Phoebe new it had to be a strain on her father. They brought her a pang of guilt. That was the third time this week; that had to set some kind of world-class record. Phoebe closed her eyes and tried to act as if she didn’t here it, but a response was inevitable. She knew only a few things her father loved, and unless she could produce a couple grand or a glass of scotch, she was not one of them.

It was almost like she wanted him gone, to be on her own seemed so much simpler. He wouldn’t. Every time she felt the time-bomb waiting to explode, it wouldn’t. Something kept him here. The tension of the last few days continued to build like a raging volcano. It seemed like each time she felt ahead, she found their arguments at only a stalemate.

Phoebe was overcome with years of emotion and let the words slip “Really, cause I hate you.”

“Hate is a strong word Phoebe” her father looked hurt, but not as hurt as when the Japanese steakhouse ran out of scallops.

“So is love. I just thought you told me to never lie, hypocrite.”

“Well at least I’m making the effort. I’m finally starting to see why your mother left.” Her dad looked angry and the last thing Phoebe needed was to be beaten around again.

The words hit like ice, as Phoebe’s heart skipped a beat. It was her father. It had to be her father. Her mother left but didn’t want to leave her. She had to. “Well why don’t you leave. Seems like it’s been the only thing on your mind since forever. It’s not like there’s anything keeping you here. I’d probably be even better off without you, for that matter.”

“Fine Phoebe, if that’s the way you want it I’m gone. I’ll be outta your hair and you can choose to do whatever you want with your life that’s heading nowhere.” Her dad picked up his belongings, his briefcase. Phoebe realized those really were his only real belongings.

As the door slammed the reverberation of her triumph filled her only with doubt. What was she thinking? There was no way she could do anything alone. Her father would never walk back through the door. His pride wouldn’t allow him. Phoebe glanced and the garnet tie and stopped breathing almost entirely.

She leapt out of the chair and ran for the doors. She saw the car backing out of the driveway, for without a doubt the last time. Phoebe’s surge of emotion caused her to blurt “Dad, I love you.” It was too late; she saw the car speed down the road. Phoebe collapsed to the ground. She looked to the sky and realized she was all alone, left in the dark with only the comfort of the wet, cold cement.

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