by Daniel D'Andrea
They were singing and dancing with a contagious bliss, enough to make me giggle along. A simple Christmas carol, in June mind you, was all it took to invoke this fit of joy for the children. They truly were a family; they loved each other more than I could ever hope. I proudly watched, as their mother played and sang along, as careless and joyful as the children.
An ear to ear smile took over my face, but I couldn’t hold back the tear from seeping into my mouth. The salty taste did not faze me; nothing could at this point. As I peered in through the window, I felt as though I belonged in that circle, singing and playing along.
I don’t know what stopped me, probably the restraining order or deadbolts, but otherwise I was completely free.
Nobody will ever know how much I care for those children. Sure, I had odd ways of showing it, and the courts disagreed with my methods, but love is love.
After getting fired for drinking at work, I entered a deep depression which forced me into more drinking. I loved the kids at work as much as I loved my own, and teaching was my only passion. Now I lost those kids, my own kids, my wife, my life, everything, all because I like to be wasted to teach elementary math, my other passion. So sue me! Well, not again, please.
A tear from the other eye streamed down the other side of my face, this taste seemed to faze me a bit more than the first.
After they all began to drift off, I hurried back home to be with my new family. In a fit of defiance, I said out loud to myself, “I don’t need them anymore.” I kicked everything within leg’s distance on my trip home, saying this exact sentence repeatedly. I didn’t cheer up until I arrived back at my own house.
Pumpkin was the first to greet me, with a bright smile that lit up the entire room. Well, it did once I lit the candle inside of her. After pumpkin gave me light, I could see old denim jacket wrapped around a book bag and couch cushion greeting me with equal delight. We all gathered on the couch and openly discussed our day. We were giggling and laughing with each other, curled up on the couch with the fireplace cracking. We decided to put in a movie, The Never-ending Story, and watched it together to close out the night. As pumpkin face and denim lay fast asleep, I covered them up and headed upstairs with couch cushion. We enjoyed our moment alone together by making quiet love, the only way we knew how since bringing the children into our lives.
After couch cushion fell asleep, I went back the old house and peered in through the window, seeing the children sleep comfortably on their mothers lap, smiling, without a care in the world. They wouldn’t be smiling so calmly if they knew what went down in that lap to conceive them. I sat there behind the bushes, sleeping with them, until it was time to head to work.
Everyone at the school always asked to see pictures of my kids. I brought them to a Christmas party and the teachers fell in love with them. They really were a pleasant group of children. But now I have new kids, and I dread the uncomfortable conversation of why they look so different or what happened to your other kids. I didn’t want them to think I ditched my old family for this new and improved version. It was doubly embarrassing to have this conversation while now holding a mop and bucket of puke-filled water.
The next day I awoke and didn’t reach for the snooze button or a drink, I just woke up and sprung out of bed.
It was Father’s day, and I knew the family was up to something. Much to my surprise, I arrived downstairs to a lovely breakfast already prepared. More surprisingly, next to it was my first wife and kids, “Happy Father’s Day!”
I couldn’t believe my eyes, they had looked past the drinking and the fighting and the weeks at a time away and the defecating on the living room carpet, and came to celebrate with me.
Both families, both lives, together, I was absolutely elated. I was a father again. I decided to make a drink to celebrate.