16. JoshMature

Where is she? She wondered as she jumped the last few steps into the hallway. It wasn’t like her mum to disappear without telling her where she was going. Dad will know.

She walked through the door into the kitchen. The fire was dying out and she could hear it crackle as it fought to hold on to the last few scraps of wood. Her father was sat down in the largest chair in the room. He had turned it to face the fireplace and he looked distant. Perhaps this isn’t a good time. She thought about turning and heading upstairs but she wanted to know.

“Daddy?” Her voice was sweet and childlike, enough to draw any parent out of their slumber. But her father didn’t move. “Dad.” This she said with more force and it had the desired effect. Her father’s eyes blink a few times, coming into focus. He raised his hands and rubbed his normally clean shaven face. Slowly and stiffly he turned his head to face the small girl who stood on the mat by the table.

“Hmm?” He sighed.

“Where’s mummy?”

He blinked again.. Mum. Well, he thought to himself. Your mum’s run off with some fit guy who has promised her a new, fresh life and has abandoned her children and her husband. But he couldn’t say that. Rosie was only seven. She wouldn’t understand. He sighed once again.

“Your mother is staying at a friend’s house for a few nights. She’s having a little trouble with one of her patients.”

“But she didn’t tell me she was going. Who’s going to tuck me in at night? You never do it right!” Her face was a mix of shock and upset. But she was right. He wasn’t much good at the whole bedtime part.

“Ask your sister.” He said simply.

She pouted, turned on her heel and stormed back upstairs. He went back to looking at the fire. The flames had died out but the ashes were still glowing red. His mind flickered back to a few hours before. She had come into the house, packed a bag with a few clothes, simply said that she was leaving and that she would return for the rest of her stuff tomorrow and left. He’d watched her from the bedroom window, her dark hair flowing behind her as she ran down the gravel path, past the roses that they had planted together when they had first arrived, and into a small black car that was waiting for her on the curb. Christian’s car. His brow creased as he remembered the first day she had met him. She’d come back from work, happy for the first time in months. Her smile lit up the house, but he knew it wasn’t him who had made her happy. There was someone else. For the next weeks she continued to smile. And then today.

Slowly his eyelids began to droop. His hand fell open and a small band of silver rolled out and fell onto the floor. The last flicker of a flame caught the edge of the wedding ring and it lit up red.  The final warmth from the ashes soothed his face and his head sank onto his chest.

The End

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