She was five years old, all sunshine and pigtails. She was with her Daddy. She loved being with Daddy. Saturday mornings, snuggled on his lap in the big yellow rocking chair watching Scooby-Doo. Outside playing nearby while he mowed the grass. Sitting on the floor as he tinkered and fixed things around the house. Daddy could fix anything. He was big and strong, he made her laugh and she was safe.
Today she sat in the front seat of their 1970 dark green Chevrolet Nova right by Daddy. It was just the two of them. She was happy, content, chitter-chattering like five year old’s do. Arriving at the restaurant she hopped out of the car, took Daddy’s hand and walked in. She climbed up on the red vinyl seat of the booth Daddy chose and told Him what she wanted to eat.
A nice lady came to take their order and it wasn’t long before she was sitting with a plate of French fries and a small glass of 7-Up in front of her. Daddy put salt and a little vinegar on her French fries, her favourite. All was well with the world. She sat quietly eating her fries while Daddy drank his coffee.
After a little while the nice lady came and sat beside her and started talking with Daddy. During their conversation Daddy reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out his box of cigarettes. Taking out two, he put them in his mouth. Grabbing his zippo lighter from his jeans pocket he lit them both with a brief inhale and handed one to the nice lady.
She ate while Daddy and the nice lady talked. When she was done and Daddy had finished his coffee and cigarette they got up out of the booth. Daddy took her hand and they walked to the door. The nice lady said goodbye and they left.
Driving home she looked out the car window watching the landscape pass by. Johnny cash played on the radio.
Mommy and Brother were there when they got home. She crawled out of the front seat of the car when Daddy opened the door and skipped to the house. Mommy was in the kitchen doing what mommy’s do asking about her time with Daddy. She chattered on about the drive, the restaurant, French fries and 7-Up. Daddy walked into the kitchen just as she was telling Mommy about the nice lady and how Daddy shared a cigarette with her.
Time stopped. Something changed and she was confused. She looked from Mommy to Daddy and back to Mommy again as they looked at each other. The next few minutes, hours, and even days were are blur of confusion. Daddy was gone, Mommy was crying all the time, and Brother, well he seemed mad and sad all at the same time. All she knew for sure, was that in the moment of the telling she lost everything. And it was all her fault.