“We’re just friends!” She yelled for the hundredth time. Ella and I were in the bathroom. I was trying my hardest to unclog the toilet, since my daughter thought it would be fun to flush one of her dolls down it.
“That’s not what people are saying Ella!” I barked backed at her. “I go in to town, I’m the one that gets stared at! I’m the one that hears all the whispers! So, please be honest for once in your life El!”
“I AM!” She left the room, slamming the door.
I left the clogged toilet and went after her. “ELLA! Dammit! I just want to know!” I screamed at her in the living room. We’ve been having the same fight for over two months. Ever since my son’s birthday, I have heard more and more rumors about her and Mike. Last night Jimmy called asking if I had seen Ella, since she and Mike were missing from a gig. He ended up canceling the gig and coming to my place for a beer. Ella still doesn’t know about the beer or this morning’s hangover. “Where the hell were you last night!?!” I asked again.
She quickly narrowed her eyes. “I WAS AT MY GIG!” She yelled the same answer.
“Quit lying to me! Jimmy was here all last night! He and I both crashed on the couch after drinking a six pack! You weren’t at a gig!” I yelled, not realizing what I was admitting to.
“YOU WERE DRINKING!”
“Yea I was drunk as a skunk last night!” I answered. “No thanks to you!”
“I told you David, one more and I was through!”
“Good! Cause I was through since I found out my wife is a cheating slut!” That’s when she slapped me and stormed into the room. Then I heard Alice screaming from the top of her lungs.
I went into my children’s room and found little Alice screaming and Travis with a pillow over his head. I picked up my daughter, changed her diaper and held her as I cried. I placed her back in the crib and kissed her. “Dada, don go!” She cried out.
“I’m not going anywhere princess.” I responded with another kiss.
I stood over her crib and looked down at my angel who was trying to fall asleep. I rubbed her back. I then looked over and found my son sprawled across his bed. This was my family. I just wished that my life had a bit more love in it. I didn’t want my children to go and I didn’t want Ella to leave either. I loved her despite what she has done.
This morning my son woke me up. “Daddy.” He shook me awake. I barely opened one of my eyes, so he continued to shake me, “daddy. It’s morning.”
I looked over towards the clock on the wall, he was right it was six in the morning. “Thanks bud.” I told him as I yawned.
“Dad, what’s going to happen?” He asked me.
I just put my head down and shook it. “I dunno know bud. I’m sorry that mom and I are putting you through this.”
He nodded a bit and then looked up at me.“Can you make me some pancakes.” He asked with a grin.
My son always knew a way to get me to smile. I just chuckled at him. “Sure Trav. You want my apple pancakes?” He nodded excitedly.
I made Travis pancakes and allowed him to watch his cartoons while he ate. In the kitchen I had little Alice up and fed. Ella sat across from me with her serving of pancakes. “We need to talk.” I told her.
“I’m tired of talking.” She told me as she took a bite out of her pancakes. “I already told you that I’m done.”
“Fine.” I dropped my fork and looked at her. I was done fighting with her. I was done loving her. “I’ll see you later.” I finally said as I got up.
“Where are you going?” She asked with an eyebrow raised.
“Fishing. I need to clear my head, and you need to figure out what you want from me.” I told her as I walked to the bathroom to get dressed.
I headed down to the river in an isolated bend, away from people. I needed space and time to think. I stood there with a line in the water and my tackle box at my feet. My heart wasn’t into fishing, but I knew that I couldn’t get plastered at seven in the morning. My heart broke as I thought about what would be coming. I knew that Ella wouldn’t stay, and if she did, it wasn’t fair for the kids. I thought about the last few months as I stood and fished.
First there was Travis, my little bookworm. I thought about all the afternoons I would come in from working out in the back to find my boy on the couch with his books in hand. I once even asked if he would like to help me out in back, he replied, “No thanks dad. I want to finish reading this chapter. Then I think I will go in my room and play with my blocks.”
“You know you could do with a bit of fresh air. Come on, just us guys!”
“No thanks, maybe tomorrow.” I ended up shrugging my shoulders and then tousling his hair. He hated when I did that, and he would roll his eyes at me disapprovingly.
Alice and I were the best of friends. She loved to chase me in the morning around the house. “Dada!” She would holler as she ran out of her room, looking for me. I would end up getting down on my knees and taking her into my arms. “Dada, pway!” I could never say no to her. She was indeed my princess.
When things at home seemed to get chaotic between Ella and myself, I often found myself putting on my old fatigues and taking a run. I would run all over the city. Sometimes I would take my iPod with me, other times I would just forgo the music and listen to the sounds around me. I loved jogging by the river, it was peaceful and quiet. In town there were always the staring onlookers and the gossiping old woman that I would have to ignore, but by the river, it was just me.
The worst part about the last two months was the fighting. It was never ending.
What’s worse was that we fought around the kids. Alice always would start screaming whenever she saw the two of us fighting. It was hard for her to see her parents not “luwving” each other. She would often say, “luwv! Pwease luwv!” It always broke my heart because I did love Ella, I just didn’t think she loved me.
It wasn’t until two nights ago when I went to go and tuck in my children, did I find out how much it affected both of them. Ella and I had just went at each other. She slammed the bedroom door and locked it. I barely walked in the room, when I found my son tucking in his own sister. “There, there sis.” He whispered. “It’ll be okay. Mommy and daddy will still love us.” I started to cry.
I walked in and put my hand on my son’s shoulder. I could see both of them crying. I bent down to their level and looked at my two children, “Listen to me, we love you two so much.” My son wiped a tear from my eye.
“But you don’t love each other. I get it daddy, but you can’t live like this. We can’t live like this.” This time it was my turn wiping his eye. “Please I just want us to be a family.”
“I promise you both, that no matter what happens, we’ll still be a family.” I kissed both my kids goodnight and tucked them in. I knew Alice didn’t understand much of what Travis and I said, but I wanted her to know that I still loved her.
I gathered my tackle box and gear. I had spent almost the entire day out in the sun by the river. I caught plenty of fish to sell over at the market with my harvest.
The sun was setting fast as I drove home. When I pulled up and parked in the driveway I could see Ella standing on the porch, crying. She wiped her nose and dabbed her eyes. I don’t know how long she had been standing there, but her face was red. It wasn’t until I got out of the car did I notice that she had some suitcases sitting next to her.
I gulped. This is it.
I walked up the porch steps with my head down and my shoulders slumped. My heart was racing. I knew what was happening and I hated it. “So. . .” It was all that could come out of my mouth.
“Hey Rain.” She said, looking away and towards the luggage. I was surprised she called me Rain. This had to be just as hard for her as it was for me. We were throwing in the towel, we both knew it.
“Is this all of it?” I asked looking at the luggage. I was holding in all my tears.
“Yea. Mike’s on his way. We’re moving in with him until I can find a place for the three of us.”
I snapped my head at her. “Wait? Y-y-you’re t-t-taking the kids?” I stuttered. I couldn’t wrap me head around this.
“Just for the week. Then we’ll come up with a better solution.” She started to cry. “I’m sorry Rain, but I can’t have them here while your drinking.” Now I understood. She and I both knew exactly what I planned on doing as soon as she left.
“Do you need any money?” I asked. We didn’t have much, but I wasn’t going to let her leave without knowing she’ll be okay.
“No. I, well, Mike and I have some saved up.” I smiled. I knew she was holding out on the last CD sales. “I am sorry, Rain.”
“Where’s the kids?” I asked as I saw Mike’s car pull up.
“Inside.” I turned and headed in as Mike climbed out. I didn’t want to do anything stupid sober. Drunk, I could get away with punching a cop, sober, there was no way. I just found out through Jimmy that the two of them were not only musicians but police officers. It was only because of this I hadn’t killed Mike, yet.
As soon as I walked in the door, Alice was there greeting me. I picked her up and let out all the tears I had held in from talking with Ella. I held her close and she, too, started to cry. My four year old was smart, and knew what was going on. I looked at her, “Now I want you to be a good girl for mommy, okay?” She nodded as she sniffed her tears up her nose. “I love you princess.”
“I luwv you dada.” She said back which made me cry even more. I felt a tug on my pant leg and looked down, Travis was there in tears. I put down Alice and turned to face my heart broken son.
“I don’t wanna go!” He balled. “Can’t I stay here with you?”
I wrapped my son in my arms and together we cried. “I’m sorry Trav, I really am. You have to go with mommy, just until we figure out what the plan is.”
“But why can’t I stay here!?!” He cried out more.
“Because mommy needs you more than ever. Now, I want you to take care of her and help her through this, can you do that?” I felt him nod yes in my shoulder. “I love you Travis. Don’t worry, you’ll be home soon. I promise.”
“I love you too daddy.”
I helped Ella with Alice and waved goodbye to my son as he strapped himself in to his seat. Ella turned and we were both in tears. “Goodbye Rain.” She said as she wrapped her arms around me for one final hug.
“Goodbye Ella.” And with that I gave her one final kiss. She took her ring off and clasped it into my palm. “No, Ella. This is yours.” I told her as I put it back into her hand. She only nodded and started to cry again.
“You take care of yourself Rain.” She told me with one more peck.
“You do the same.”
Ella climbed into the car and I just sat there and watched as it drove off. This was the end of Ella and me. The love of my life was gone. I looked around the neighborhood and then turned to my house. My house was emptied, I was standing alone and afraid to go in. I took out my phone and dialed a number, “Hey dad. . .”