A tentative conversation between two worried parents regarding their daughter and her life.
The morning was cool and fresh, one of those mornings filled with the strong smell of coffee and toast. The sun was barely creeping from behind the snow-covered mountains and the smell of the pine trees was towering over the hill and beyond it. A woman in her early forties, Irène, was pouring her second cup of coffee and sipping into it slowly. She inhaled the scent of freshly brewed coffee as if it were an energetic elixir that will make her wholly functional for the rest of the day. Her blond hair was tightly tied into a high ponytail and her blue eyes were slowly being polished into bright sapphires with each gulp of coffee she swallowed. This was her poison, energizer, and addiction. She walked to the kitchen island and set the coffee on the table, she reached for the newspaper and started leafing through it, waiting for her toast to be ready. She glanced at the round kitchen clock and wondered when her husband would finally come to breakfast.
He appeared at last, dressed ready for work on his scrubs and white doctor's coat. Dr. Charles set his suitcase on the floor and poured a cup of coffee for himself. His hair was ruffled and his eyes were still blood-shot because of a meager sleep.
"You look awful honey," Irène commented, replacing the newspaper with her cup of coffee. "I brewed it extra strong just for you. I hope we have you for dinner tonight; according to my co-worker, children that do not grow up with both parents at the dining table are the ones that usually suffer from social awkwardness and will have unsuccessful marriages."
Charles cocked an eyebrow, "is that's what happening to us? With the unsuccessful marriage that is." He leaned against the kitchen counter and slowly breathed the strong beverage. Irène remained silent, examining his husband's face. Their marriage didn't appear to be crumbling at all, but it was becoming weaker, almost on the verge of collapsing without giving signs of it.
"I'm just worried about Michelle, okay?" she sighed, steadily holding his brown-eyed gaze with her eyes.
"She is fifteen already," Charles said exasperated, "she is old enough to cope with situations like this, she knows very well that both of us are hard-working professionals with demanding career and jobs. Besides, I think she is pretty entertained in her own world to mind our business."
"Charles," Irène let out a long sigh and gazed at her husband pleadingly, "please, it will be nice to have you dine with us at least three days out of seven. Will it kill you to get off earlier tonight?"
Charles stared at Irène for a long time, he knew she just wouldn't drop the subject until he accepted. "Okay," he said, raising his hands and giving in with her demands, "I will be back earlier and I hope there is a banquet waiting for me." He grinned and returned to his coffee.
"We should plan our conversation for tonight," Irène suggested, "I don't think she'll appreciate a family dinner consumed in awkward silence. Any ideas?"
"You're asking way too much now, darling," Charles said, "I have a meeting today with the benefactors of my hospital, we want to get funded for new medical machinery."
Irène rolled her eyes, she had a speech about irresponsibility and neglectful fatherhood Charles was displaying, but she decided to keep quiet. She had gained a lot by only having him dine with them. "How about the career she'll choose once she graduates from high school?"
"Fine, she should study medicine," Charles said matter-of-factly, "or biology or business."
"She would do a fine musician as well," Irène said dreamily, imagining her daughter performing before millions of spectators. "Or she could become our next Tolkien, you know how she loves that fantasy world of hers."
Charles dismissed those careers with a wave of his hand, "don't be idealistic, she is a great pianist but she should use her intellectual side more than her creative side. She will be an amazing engineer or scientist."
"Do you think she'll succeed in life?"
"Is this question related to not having both parents dining with her every night and whatnot you were talking about earlier?" Charles asked solemnly. Irène shook her head and he sighed with relief, "she is a great girl, I'm sure she'll be fine by herself when she goes out into the big world waiting for her."
Irène pondered about her answer for a long and silent moment, then she drew in a breath before saying, "you're right."