"Dad? Dad, I'm home." The whole house shook as I shut the heavy oak door and tossed my key onto the front table. "I'm back. I was just at the..." I trailed off, realizing I hadn't even come up with an excuse. How would I explain my dirty nightgown, my muddy feet, my red-rimmed eyes?
There was no response, and I frowned. Usually whenever I came home after sneaking out, he was waiting in the kitchen with a cigarette and a bad temper, waiting for me to come in the door so he could spring a week's grounding on me.
"Dad?" I wandered into the kitchen and grabbed a box of cereal, not really worried. If he had decided to disappear, fine by me.
It was then that I noticed the heavy envelope still sitting on the counter where I had left it two days ago. It hadn't even been touched. "Christ," I groaned. So he didn't even know yet. He didn't pay the rent, and what little money we had went to supporting his disgusting habits.
I stood up angrily and reached for the house phone, punching in his cell phone number like I was stabbing him in the heart. I was done tiptoeing around him and cleaning up his messes, and I was going to tell him. And then I was going to leave.
The phone rang six times before he answered. "'Lo?"
"Dad! Jesus, where are you!"
"Shhh!" His voice came back as tinny static over the phone. "Keep your voice down, I'm in church. And don't use the Lord's name in vain, goddammit!"
"You're in church?" I almost choked. "You?"
"Yeah. I'm a saved man now." He lowered his voice even further, and I could barely hear him over the mournful sound of organ music. "I saw an angel."
"An angel." I shook my head and got the milk out of the refrigerator. "How much did you have to drink last night anyway?"
"I wasn't drunk! I'm clean and sober. 19 hours!"
"Dad, that's hardly--"
"I'm tellin' you, I saw an angel. He knew about you! Knew your name and everythin'."
Slowly I put my spoon down. "He knew...about me?"
"Yeah. Kinda weird. Told me off for makin' you out as a slut. Called you his girlfriend too. Guess it must be...an angel euphemism or somethin'."
I grinned, wider than I had in a long time. It had been a while since I'd smiled. "Yeah, something like that."
"I gotta go. Gonna give my confession to the priest."
"That's gonna take awhile," I said under my breath, and smiled as I put the phone down. It took away just a little of the pain to know that somewhere, my guardian angel was looking out for me.