Another Final Straw

MICROW 2010

There are three sides to every story, my father said, mine, your mother’s and the real one. I was six years old and he was packing his suitcases into a borrowed car. They’d been sitting on the back stoop for all to see for three days before he showed up to get them. He must’ve known they’d be there waiting because he didn’t seem surprised and never went into the house to talk to my mother. I guess their talking days were over.

I ran over and hugged him when I saw him walking from the parking lot to our apartment. Why do you have to go I asked?

It’s what your mother wants, he said and I said that mom said it was what he wanted. That’s when he told me the three sides bit so I asked him what the real reason he was leaving was and he flashed angry and said I just told you that your mother wants me out. I asked him who will tell me the real reason and he told me I’m just like my mother—calling him a liar and that I should go take a six-year old powder and some day I’ll understand.

I can understand today, Daddy, I said, but first I’ll have to be told the real reason. He shot me his mean look, stuck a cigar in the corner of his mouth, waved me away with the back of his hand and walked back to the car with the last suitcase—the one I’d taken his matching set of hairbrushes from and hidden them in my bedroom. They were called military brushes—kind of oval with silver backs and no handles and you used one in each hand at the same time.

He never came back for them as I’d hoped he would and when my mother saw me using them and asked me why I had the brushes I told her he gave them to me.

It figures, she said bitterly, they were my wedding gift to him.

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