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“Meg, Kylee! We have to go. Are you ready?” Debbie yelled to her daughter, pulling her long brown hair into a ponytail.
“No, I can’t find Teddy!” She replied. At that moment she was tearing her pink, rainbow-filled room apart in search of her favorite teddy bear.
The family of three was getting ready to head out to Kylee’s last volleyball game of the season. Debbie was being the typical scatterbrained mother and had forgotten until the last minute to get ready. Meg, on the other hand, misplaced the stuffed animal she couldn’t go anywhere without. Kylee had grown tired of waiting so she went to find her younger sister.
“What's taking so long?” Meg’s sister Kylee bursted through the door in her volleyball uniform.
“I can’t find him anywhere!” Meg exclaimed, continuing to tear her room apart.
Kylee made a quick sweep of the room and found the stuffed animal immediately. She held it up by its leg and cleared her throat.
“It’s right here,” She said, evidently irritated.
“He’s not an ‘it’!” Meg screamed, ripping the stuffed animal from her hand and running out of the room.
“That’s why you don’t have any friends, you dork,” Kylee mumbled.
Meg was an awkward child. Unlike the other girls at school, she had her long hair cut short because she never cared to brush it. She wore glasses and carried her favorite stuffed animal, Teddy, with her everywhere. It was no wonder she had such a hard time making friends at school.
Debbie finally exited the bathroom and joined Kylee.
“What happened in here? Meg!” Her mother shouted, taking in the scene around her. The bed was torn apart, pink and purple blankets thrown every which way. The small twin bed was pulled away from the wall and her box of toys was empty, the contents seeming to have exploded across the room.
“No time, we’re already late!” Kylee said, grabbing her mother’s arm and dragging her out to the car. The group piled into their family minivan and sped off to the school.
As soon as they pulled into the school lot and were parked, Kylee ran into the school to start practicing. Debbie watched her daughter with slight amusement as she stepped out of the car.
Meg and Debbie settled into their seats, conversing with the other parents. As soon as the game started, Kylee spiked on one of the other members of the opposing team, causing the stands to erupt in cheers. She continued to play this well for the remainder of the first half.
Later in the game, during their halftime huddle when they were getting drinks, Kylee spotted a man enter the gym. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew him from somewhere. Kylee watched in confusion as the man walked up to her mother.
Meg was equally enthralled, watching the man walk up to her mother with great curiosity. Her mother seemed surprised and angry. She sat by and listened to their conversation play out.
“Hello Debbie,” He spoke carefully, sitting on the other side of her mom.
“Jim,” She responded shortly. “What are you doing here?”
Meg pulled on the corner of her mom’s shirt to ask for an explanation, but she brushed her off.
“I wanted to see you and the girls. I miss you,” Jim said softly, glancing at Meg. “I want to come home.”
“Come back with us for dinner, Jim. We’re not discussing this here,” Debbie responded.
Kylee was still focussed on the man as the second half of the game began. Her teammate hit the ball towards her as she was trying to figure out who the man was talking to her mother and sister. That’s when it hit her… the ball and the answer she had been looking for. That was her father that she has not seen for four years.
Despite the slip-up, Kylee’s team still finished the game victorious. Afterwards, her and her family went home so her mother Debbie could cook dinner. As soon as she began cooking she remembered the disaster upstairs and asked Meg to go upstairs and clean her room. When dinner was ready, everyone sat at the table and ate in awkward silence.
Kylee kept her anger towards her father at bay for the majority of the meal, but lost it once she took in the scene around her. Had somebody looked at the group without any knowledge of the situation, they would assume they were just a typical family. They all had brown hair and similar features. Both of the girls had blue eyes, a trait they got from their father.
“It's funny how we actually look like a family,” Kylee said with attitude, causing Jim to look down in disappointment.
“What?” Meg asked, looking at her sister with confusion.
“It's more complicated than that,” Jim started as Kylee rolled her eyes.
“Kylee, Meg... I think it's time for bed, you two have school tomorrow,” Deb said angrily, clearly not in the mood for a family debate.
Kylee and Meg both walked to the kitchen, threw away their leftover food and placed their plates in the sink. As they were turning the corner to walk upstairs, Kylee overheard her mother talking but didn’t bother to stop and listen. Instead, she walked to her room and slammed the door.
She sat and thought about what just happened. She couldn’t look at her father without wondering if it was her fault that he left. Soon enough she tired of sitting alone and walked out of her room. As soon as she shut her bedroom door, she noticed her sister Meg sitting at the edge of the stairs.
“What are you doing out here?” Kylee said in a quiet voice so she would not get caught out of her room.
“Who is that man?” Meg said, not looking away from their mother and father.
“Mom didn't tell you?” Kylee watched the look on her sister’s face for any hint of recognition but saw none. “It’s our dad...” Kylee replied with a disappointed look on her face.
Meg never really knew her father, but she knew enough to know that he was around, and then he just… wasn’t. It was hard for her to understand why.
Kylee and Meg sat for a minute in silence, listening to their parents. They weren’t really saying much at all, except for, “how have you been” or “what have you been up to” so Kylee and Meg were about to go back to their room.
“I want to come back. I miss you and the girls.” Kylee stopped in her tracks and kept listening, Meg had not moved at all.
“What do you mean you want to come back? You left, you can't do that,” Deb was whisper yelling, clearly upset but trying to not raise her voice and make a scene that would disturb the girls.
“What do you mean? I can't do what?” Jim replied back in a quieter voice.
“You can’t want to come back. One, you left us. Two, Meg doesn't even know you, all
day she was asking me who you were,” Deb was rubbing her temples in frustration at this point, a few strands coming loose from her ponytail and falling in her face. “Three, it's not our fault you miss us. If you didn't leave then you wouldn't have a reason to miss us because you would have us.” Debbie yelled again in a whisper voice.
What Debbie said made Jim stop talking and look at her with hurt in his eyes. He turned towards the door and walked out without saying a word. Deb sat at the table with tears in her eyes. She knew that it was the right thing to do, but it was still difficult to turn her back on her former husband.
“Did he leave because of us?” Meg said with sadness in her eyes as Kylee looked in disbelief.
“No, of course not. It's definitely not our fault he left,” Kylee said trying to convince her they weren't the reason.
“Then why did he leave?” Meg said, still not convinced.
“Because he couldn't handle the job he was given, that job was to stay,” Kylee stated and with that Meg was quiet.
Meg soon got up and walked down stairs to where their mom was crying and hugged her, Kylee followed then did the same.
“Mom we don't need him all we need is the three of us. This is our family,” Kylee said.
Debbie was surprised that her daughters were listening in but gladly accepted their comforting.
“You’re right, Kylee,” She said, wiping her tears away. “This is all we need. Right here.”
The trio sat in silence for a bit, contemplating the events of the past night.
“Mom, can we stay up and watch a movie?” Meg asked suddenly, her childlike wonder coming out again.
Debbie was about to say no, but looked at her two daughters and was broken down instantly.
“Oh, alright. Sure,” She said.
That whole night, they were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. They quickly forgot what had happened before and fell asleep on the couch as a family. The only family that they would ever need.