“Did I say something wrong?” Mike asked as he hauled a black suitcase into the house. He turned to Arthur, who just entered behind him, with a look of concern in his puffy face.
“Don’t worry about it,” Arthur sighed, setting a duffel bag on the floor. He glanced to the screen door looking at the glittering sand under the sun and the slow, monotonous rolling of waves, gently washing over the shore, delighting the children that were running away from the cool water. He thought of Brooke, of the summers he had missed with her. Guilt.
“You sure? She seem really angry,” Mike pointed out, rubbing his chin, deep in thought as he tried to come up with an unspoken reason for his friend’s relationship with his daughter.
“I am used to her coldness and disapproval,” Arthur’s own words were heavy on his tongue and heart, but light on his conscience for he knew it was nothing but the truth.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Mike soothed. “She is a teenager after all; it must be hard for her to grow up without her parents: her mother being long gone and her father working all the time to guarantee their well-being.”
A spear went through Arthur’s heart as he listened to what his friend said.
Mike felt Arthur’s uneasiness; it was the second truth he had blurted out in less than an hour. “I am sure she understands,” Mike quickly said, trying to amend his candid opinions.
Arthur looked out the window into the cloudless sky. Did she understand? Well, if she did, she didn’t show signs of it. The problem wasn’t his daughter not understanding. The problem was his being unable to change his lifestyle, because retreating steps was far too painful and difficult.
“Sometimes I repeat to myself that it’s for the best,” Arthur said in a barely audible voice, “I did what a loving father would’ve done. I let her build up her life as she desired and have friends. I was afraid to lose her if I let her into my world…”
His world was work and travel, his work as a marine biologist took him to the most marvelous and breath-taking places around the world. He never stayed more than three months in one place, his multiple researches took him everywhere. He enjoyed photography very much and send pictures of his findings to Brooke. Whether Brooke ever opened his letters and admire the pictures he knew not.
Arthur was no longer speaking to Mike, but to himself. Mike had a baffled expression on his face when he heard Arthur’s words, but decided it was best not to ask for explanation. Arthur was still looking into the sky.