“Hey, baby. Where are your glasses?” Kyle asked her.
“Don’t know. I think I broke them.”
“You think you did or you did?”
“Dad, they’re just glasses! Sheesh!”
“Honey, you need them to see. Your vision’s like mine. Not worth sh….”
“Mr. Scott. Little ears,” Carmelita said sternly.
“Um… Not worth sharing with my children,” he amended with a sly wink. “You’re going to give yourself eyestrain and headaches.”
“I don’t care. Why couldn’t I get Mom’s eyes instead?”
“Cause Mommy needed them, Cindy.”
“Hush, munchkin. It’s called genetics. You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“Mindy, let’s you and me go find Slycarp the cat, huh?” Carmelita suggested.
“Okay, Lita.” She hopped off the stool, hugged her father’s knees and followed Carmelita to the backyard.
“You need to wear the glasses, Cindy. That’s not optional.”
“I don’t need to hear this from you today, Kyle. It’s been a long day.”
“What’s this Kyle crap? I’m your father, not your friend.”
“Obviously!” She grabbed some cookies off the tray, pirouetting around the kitchen on half point.
“When’s the last day of school?”
“Tomorrow. Can’t you keep anything straight?”
“I know when your birthday is. I know to the minute when you were born because my life changed the moment you popped out.” He tried to smile, but the memory was almost too much for him.
“For the worse, I’m sure. We’re all so—inconvenient.”
“Is that what you really think, honey?” His blue eyes filled with tears.
“We’re a pain in the ass. I know. You fuss and gripe at us all the time. We’re too noisy, bugging you when you’re on the phone, or trying to work. You can’t go out or do anything because you don’t trust me to babysit my own siblings.”
“That’s not it at all. I love you kids. I bust my ass to keep a roof over your heads and food on the table. I don’t go out so I can spend a little bit of time with my children. And I do trust you with them. I just didn’t think you needed that responsibility right now.”
“Oh, Daddy! You’re such a big goof!” She hugged her father, kissing his cheek. “Mom would want you to go out, find someone new, not sit here glued to the couch watching reruns of her favorite shows on the DVR after we go to bed.”
“How—how did you know?”
“I come downstairs for a drink of water or something. I see you. You have to let go, Dad. It’s not healthy. And you work too hard. Carmelita would stay here full time if you needed. You know that, but you never ask her. She could use the extra money and it would help her out to get rid of that crappy apartment. You know they raised the rent again?”
“You’re kidding. It’s not worth what she pays now.”
“I know, right? We’ve got the mother-in-law apartment off the lanai. She could live there.”
“You think she’d do it?”
“I know she would. Just ask her.”
“I will. I promise.”
“Oh, I need to go change.”
“We’re forgetting ballet tonight.”
“Really? Why? Not that I care—just why?”
“Scott Family Theatre.”