Two Stories about Loss

I. The Old Man.

My daughter bustles in with some bags of groceries distracting me from the paper. She shouts out, “Hi daddy!” and runs toward the little kitchen. She’s always running. I’ve never seen anyone with as much energy as her, except maybe her mom. She’s probably got a date with some boy tonight so she’s all excited. I hear her putting things away and banging pots and pans together.
“You better not make a mess in there, or your mother will be furious!”, I call to her. She stops rattling for just a second and says, “OK, daddy. No problem”. She’s a good girl.
I look at the side table where there’s that beautiful black and white photo of her mom that we took last year, or was it longer? My daughter is always leaving a seasonal flower in front of it, I don’t know why. Maybe because the colours are nice against the photo and the black frame. She’s a sweet kid.
Finally, the rattling and banging and stirring sounds stop. She comes out to talk to me and I put down the business section.
“Listen daddy, I can’t stay a while with you tonight ‘cause Steve and I are going to a show downtown. I’ve made some good soup for you and it’s all ready on the stove, but the stove’s off, OK?”
I take her hand in mine and make her sit down on the footstool close to me.
“Now you listen to me young lady”, I say, “you and this Steve character go and enjoy yourselves. I’m sure your mom will be home soon and we’ll eat together”.
She looks doubtful. I pat her hand.
“Listen”, she says, “I’ve left the kids with Samantha across the street from our place. You can call Samantha if you need anything. Do you remember Samantha?”
I nod. Samantha’s a good neighbour. She lives below us in the ground floor apartment. My wife and her are always chattering away on the phone or having tea.
“Daddy?” She’s studying my face. “Samantha’s number is on the fridge and by the phone, OK?”
“OK”, I say, “now go on out and have some fun, love. What time will you be in tonight?”
“Late”, she says, frowning, “After you’re asleep.” Then she smiles.
“Well, I’ll give your love to mom”.
She smiles again and gives me kiss on the forehead, then the whirlwind that is my daughter steps out the door. I hear the locks clicking into place. She’s a responsible little girl, my daughter.
The office has really tired me out today. I should make some dinner but maybe I’ll just nap in this chair for now.

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