A Father's End
“I don’t understand.” Alethea’s large blue eyes looked from her mother to her father.
“He doesn’t want to be here with us anymore.” Elena responded to her sister as she stared at her father. His sunken in eyes and ashen skin made him look only half alive. The chills running up his spine before he finally broke his daughter’s steely gaze reminded him how very alive he still was.
“No. No, darlings. That’s not it at all!” Mother got down on her knees, weepy eyed and clutching a handkerchief as she patted each of the twins on their knees. “Daddy loves us very much. Very very much, girls.”
Alethea looked down her nose at her Mother while Elena reached up and adjusted the mint green bow in her copper hair. “Is that true, Daddy? Do you love us very very much?”
The twins’ father seemed to flinch at Elena’s hollow words. He tried to recover, sitting up a little straighter and resting his trembling hands in his lap before clearing his throat. “Yes, Elena. You know I do."
“I-i-it’s just better for Daddy right now if he takes some time away. Let us girls have some time together. Won’t that be nice?” Mother squeezed both girls hands, the tears streaming down her cheeks getting caught in the crevices of her smile.
“Takes some time away?” Alethea cocked her head.
Elena rolled her eyes, pulling her hand from underneath the wet grasp of her mother’s. “They’re getting a divorce.”
“A divorce?” Alethea’s eyes grew as she looked at her sister. Elena smiled as she watched her twin sister’s eyes bulge and grow watery as she looked at their parents.
“Is this–“ Alethea whimpered. “Is this our fault?”
Elena couldn’t help herself anymore and erupted into giggles. “Oh cut it out, Al!”
Both girls began laughing, wrapping their small arms around their stomachs as they hunched forward, their shoulders shaking. Mother brought her handkerchief to her eyes as she stood up and sat back in her chair, trying to muffle her cries.
Mouth hanging slack, Father watched his wife crying hopelessly into her soggy rag while his twin daughters giggled and pointed. Their laughter filling the room blending with the sound of their mother’s sobs creating an eerie symphony. A tear fell from his eye, the salt making the fresh cuts covering his haggard face burn. He reached up and hastily wiped his face, wincing as he pressed a little too hard against his bruised cheek.
“Enough!” He stood, slamming his hands down on the dinner table, making all three jump followed by complete silence.
“You are monsters. Absolute monsters.” He spat looking down at the twins. His chin trembled as the tears came without apology. Flowing from his eyes and falling from his unshaven face onto the table. “I– I just want my little girls back.”
With that he collapsed back down into his chair, covering his face with his hand and weeping loudly.
“Oh,” Mother leaned forward to comfort him but stopped as Alethea whipped her head left and shot her a look. She slowly lowered herself back into her seat, lowering her gaze and folding her hands back into her lap, still clutching her handkerchief.
Alethea turned back and both girls sat stone faced watching their father as he took deep slow breaths. He lowered his hands, his eyes puffy and swollen, and stared back at his daughters.
“Just kill me.”
“Frank, no!” Mother looked frantically from him to the girls, but nobody moved.
Eyes locked, he sat and waited for a response. No more tears, no more anger. His face looked drained of all emotion. After several moments Elena snickered and Alethea smirked. In perfect unison, their sweet voices cut the silence.
“We would never kill you, Daddy. We love you very very much.”