He made his nightly rounds checking all the doors and windows before setting the alarm. He picked up some more in the living room, smiling for the first time in ages. Even though shades and shadows of Margo lurked in every corner of each room, for once it didn’t hurt to see them.
“I’m trying,” he whispered. “For the kids, I’m trying.”
“For yourself. Try for yourself, Scotty.” He thought he heard Margo’s voice inside his head.
She always called him Scotty.
“I will, darling. I promise. Forgive me—for moving on?”
Fighting tears, he headed to his room. Mindy had sneaked into his king sized bed at some point. She was curled up on her mother’s side of the bed, clutching her pillow and her teddy bear. He tucked the covers around her and climbed in on his side. Lying on his back, he stared at the ceiling after turning off the light.
“Am I really doing the right thing?” He asked anyone who would answer him.
“Follow your heart,” came the enigmatic reply.
“I’ve never been too good at that, sweetheart. I’m more a fly by the seat of my pants kind of a guy.”
She would have laughed at him for that one and told him that he followed his pants all right, what was in them. He’d made mistakes in his life, and most of them were because he’d disregarded what his mind was saying, doing his thinking with something a lot further down.
“But thinking with my buddy dick did one good thing for me,” he amended, though one was around to hear. “It brought me you,” he blew her a kiss.
Rolling on his side, facing away from his daughter, he fell into a light sleep. Every movement Mindy made seemed to transfer itself along the surface of the supposedly unmovable surface of the bed. Whoever designed the bed didn’t count on restless five year olds. She must be having another bad dream. She kept wiggling and kicking. Kyle was glad it was a big bed.
An hour or so later, he still wasn’t sleeping well. He picked up Mindy, taking her to her room. He turned a small lamp on low. With a kiss, he left her in her own bed. Fortunately, she snuggled down and relaxed once she was tightly tucked in.
Kyle went back to his big, lonely bed, curled up hugging Margo’s pillow and fell asleep. His alarm went off in time for him to get up and see his children off. Each rode a different bus, leaving at odd times.
“I’ll pick you up after school,” he told Cindy.
“As if! Dad, I don’t need you picking me up. I’m fine on the bus.”
“But the bus is hot and crowded.”
“It’s not a big deal, Dad.”
“Steve’s dad is picking him up in a limo,” Randy added excitedly. “He said he’d drop us all off—that’s if it’s okay with you.”
“A limo?” Cindy was incredulous. “So not fair! If you pick me up in a limo, Dad, you can come get me.”
“Why would I rent a limo for that? There’s time for a limo ride with prom or your wedding. I haven’t even been in a limo.”
“Steve’s dad owns a whole fleet of limos,” Randy looked smug.
“I’m pretty sure a fleet means more than three,” Cindy countered.
“No more squabbling,” Carmelita interjected. “Get your lunches. Buses will begin arriving in ten minutes. Is everyone ready?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the children chorused.
“Line up. Kisses for Lita and your daddy.”
Each child gave her a kiss. The girls kissed their father. Randy thumped him on the shoulder, tapping his knuckles.
“Later, dude.” He headed toward the door.
“I’m not ‘dude’,” Kyle called after him. “Pull up your pants!”
His twelve year old son shot him an ugly look, tugging his pants down a notch before hitching them back up where they’d been