She stared out the window, hoping to see his headlights. But all she saw was darkness.
She replayed the argument he had with her mom in her head. Although it took place days before, she had it memorized – branded in her heart.
She could remember how her mom was barely understandable because she couldn’t catch her breath through her sobs. She could still hear him yelling. She wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t pretty anymore.
Certainly she didn’t hear that last part correctly. Her mom was beautiful, with silky chestnut hair and one strand that she always tucked behind her ear. Even when it was already there.
As she looked at the swaying trees through her window, she jumped as she remembered hearing the door slam. I don’t love you anymore. I’m leaving.
She remembered waiting to hear the door open again. To hear him say he was sorry for yelling, like he usually did. Instead, all she heard that night was Mom crying. She wanted to go to her, but wasn’t sure what to say.
What if Mom wouldn’t forgive her for being a selfish brat, always worried only about herself?
Scared that Mom would hate her and he would never come back, she picked up her favorite bear from inside the box in her closet. The one with the eye that was hanging on only by a thread.
It’d been so long since she’d pulled it out of the box. As she rubbed its nose, she closed her eyes and remembered the day he brought him home to her. She’d been in third grade. She’d just gotten off the bus when he surprised her with it. She slept with him until his seams began unraveling. Little did she know then, that it was the perfect metaphor for her life.
She still had her eyes closed, trapped in 1988, when she heard a car coming. She opened her eyes immediately and saw the glow of lights through the trees. He’s back! I knew he’d come back!
But then the lights disappeared. The car must’ve turned onto another street. More darkness.
She wondered what her mom was doing downstairs. Like that fateful night, she thought about going down to her, talking to her. But she remembered the argument they had just this morning. Mom was worried about her. Only she didn’t just tell her mom not to worry, that she was worried for nothing. No. Instead, she yelled at her and told her to mind her own business. She didn’t need to worry. What did she know about her anyway? She couldn’t even keep her marriage together. Why was she worrying about her daughter who she knew nothing about?
She sighed. Why was she blaming Mom for his leaving? Nothing she did would have ever been enough to keep a man around who was already insistent upon leaving.
Why was it that she missed him so much it hurt, but when it came to Mom, who really was the only one she could always count on, she was still a conniving little witch? As much as she hated to admit it, she had always wanted nothing more than to be his little girl.
Now she wanted nothing more than to believe that it was Mom’s fault that he left. But she knew better.
And she also knew deep down that he was never coming back.
Oh, how she wished that he would realize the truth, too. She wished with all of her aching heart that he would see what she really needed: