I knew when I got home that my father was there. That wasn’t a good sign. Especially because he wasn’t due home for another week, and it was Wednesday. What was he doing?
I stepped inside the house. The kitchen was suddenly filled with food. The dining room table was covered in newspapers, books and pens. It looked like someone actually lived here. What had happened? I ran into the bedroom. Mom was still sleeping. Quickly, I walked back into the dining room.
There he was.
“Dad?” I asked in disbelief.
“Owen!” he smiled as if he hadn’t seen me in weeks. This was, of course, true.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Dad was here, in his own kitchen. And it was a week before he was due home. I was speechless.
Suddenly, I was pulled into a hug. As much as it felt good to be hugged by my father, I was confused as hell.
But I didn’t know how long this was going to last, so I hugged him back.
Finally, he let go.
“You weren’t supposed to be here for another week,” I reminded him. He looked at me, into my eyes. I was surprised to see that he had a slightly melancholy expression on his face. He replied, “I just thought you and your mom would be happy to see me.”
“Oh,” I answered. I wasn’t used to this.
“Where is your mom, OJ?” I had forgotten he called me OJ, the J being for my middle name, Jonathan. It had started out as a joke, because when I was little I wouldn’t have breakfast unless it included orange juice.
But right now, it didn’t feel like he deserved it.
“Her room. Sleeping,” I said stiffly. He went to see her, and I didn’t care if he woke her up or not. I walked around the kitchen, gazing at the boxes of cereal and cans of soup.
There had to be a reason he was here. He wouldn’t come home early unless something extremely urgent beckoned him. Why would he ever leave of his own will?
I knew this was my dad’s house, but I didn’t think he deserved to be in it.
“OJ? Would you come here?” I heard my dad calling from the other room. What did he want? I didn’t reply, but I made my way towards the bedroom.
“What happened last night?”
I shook my head in disbelief. He didn't know?
“This is what it’s like every day,” I replied carelessly. I watched as his eyes revealed concern, something he had been concealing before. “How could you not know? That your wife is an alcoholic? Not know what I deal with every day?”
For once, he didn’t know what to say. I didn't want to hear one more word come out of his mouth anyway.
So much for being reunited.
I could hear them whispering. What were they talking about? My parents were not the kind of people to have heart-to-heart talks.
I couldn’t get the look on his face out of my mind. I strained to wrap my head around the fact that he didn’t know. Did we even cross his mind when he was gone? Did he even remember he had a family? A home?
I ran into my room. I didn’t even care for him. Why did he make me want to cry?
I couldn’t wait for nightfall.