Kim could feel Dad’s insistent gaze on her but she made herself look in the other direction and fixed her gaze on a random server.
“Thanks Kimiko. For meeting me for lunch.”
She met her father’s eyes. He looked older. It was as if he had aged drastically in the last couple of months. He even had dark bags under his eyes. She wasn’t sure if it was entirely due to work.
“Dad, its fine.” She smiled.
He nodded and stared hard at her. “Your sister loved this place.” His voice cracked.
Kim looked around her at the small cozy restaurant. Of course this didn’t look much like Dad’s usual classy scene. He didn’t fit in with his fancy tailored suit.
“She loved the live music on Thursday nights. Do you remember? The first time she made us all have dinner here?” Dad grinned. His great big grin that always made her smile.
She chuckled, “I could never forget. They had karaoke and she made you sing. I thought all the glasses would break. But then Mum came to your rescue.”
Dad’s eyes dropped to the table, “God, I miss her so much.”
Kim held her breath, “Who? Raelynn or Mum?”
Dad froze and looked up. Then a sad smile lifted up the corners of his mouth, “Both.” He sighed, “The difference is, my daughter’s dead and there’s nothing I can do about that but with every passing day my wife’s slipping out of my fingers and I feel just about as hopeless.”
Kim felt like the walls might close in on her. “You’ll both work something out.”
Dad pinched at the napkin in front of him and stared intently at it.
“She is doing everything she can to spite me.” He said the words slowly as if talking to himself.
“She’s been spending a ridiculous amount of money shopping. Buying things she doesn’t need.
She’s slowly drying out the accounts.”
“She’s going through a lot, Dad.”
Dad stopped short, his eyes hard, “I’m going through a lot. You are going through a lot. But the rest of us are coping. Or at least pretending to.”
“I love your mother but –“
“Don’t, Dad.” The sharpness of her own tone surprised even her. “You have never used a ‘but’ in that phrase. Don’t start now”.
Her words seemed to hit him hard. He sighed and ran his palm over his face.
Her father didn’t speak much after that. Only banalities about work. The server brought their orders and they dug in silently. Kim could hardly taste the food. She felt like her head was a time bomb that was waiting to go off any second.
“And how’s the new job?” Dad’s voice cut through her thoughts.
She shrugged, “It’s pretty good. I’ve mostly been going through the books. Stayed up most of last night doing that. I’m thinking of ways to improve things. Not just sales but everything.”
The approving smile she knew so well took its place on her father’s face as he cut into his steak, “Sounds like you’re consulting”.
“Just following in my father’s footsteps. If I ever do as well as you, I’d have it made.”
Dad chuckled, a sparkle in his eye, “You’ll get there.”
“I mean it. The only reason I want to be a consultant is because of you. You’re great at what you do. One of the best.”
She expected to see that same approving smile again, but instead the smile faded from her father’s face and he looked down at his plate. “Honey, it’s a lot of work.”
“You don’t think I can do it?” Her words were undoubtedly seeping with hurt.
“It’s not that, princess. I just…it’s what you’ll find yourself doing for the rest of your life. I want you to think about it. Make sure it’s actually what you want.”
“This is all I’ve worked for.”
“There’s more to life, Kim. Hang out with friends. Be happy. When you get to my age…well, you get thinking. Honey, there’s a lot of things to live for. Look for them.”
His words felt like someone was playing a cruel prank on her. Dad was her biggest supporter career-wise. What was he suddenly talking about now?
“How are things with you and Chad?” Her father watched her curiously.
Kim swallowed and shrugged, “Good, I guess. With his trip to Hong Kong, we just decided to put things on hold for some time.”
Her father nodded, “He’s good for you. Don’t let that go.” A heavy sadness clouded his eyes.
They finished their meal and Dad started pinching at his napkin again. He was nervous. She could tell. Her father was hardly ever nervous.
“You know, I would’ve expected you to have taken some big job in the city. That way you could get to meet a lot of other young people your age, you know? Go out and have fun.”
She said nothing and stared hard at her father. “This job is a great opportunity.”
“I don’t really see how.” Her father sighed.
He was disappointed. She could tell.
“What’s going on, Dad? One second you’re telling me that there’s more to life, the next, you think I should be working for some big company in the city. Which is it?”
Her father stared at her and smiled – that same sad smile that really shouldn’t qualify as one. “The big companies is what you’ve always wanted. If it really makes you happy, you should be going for it. Just don’t forget along the way that there’s more to life.”
He seemed lost, maybe a little less coherent for someone who was always very systematic about everything.
“Kimiko…” He paused. “Honey, I’m moving out.”
And there it was. All it took to feel like the life was being drained out of her.
“I’m sorry, honey. I just…I can’t anymore. Things have gotten out of hand with your mother and I think it’s best if we kept our distance for a bit.”
She nodded although her mind spun. “This is another way of telling me you’re getting a divorce.”
Her father lowered his gaze, “It’s not what I want, honey.”
She shook her head from side to side and dropped her napkin on the table. In the silence that followed she tried to hold on to whatever lie she could that everything would be okay, that it would all work out. But her life had stopped being a fairytale a long time ago. This was reality.
“I went to church last Sunday. Don’t even know how I ended up there that morning but it felt good. Reminded me of your grandma.”
Kim felt hot tears glaze her eyes, “Don’t change the subject, Dad.”
“I’m sorry.” Dad’s eyes held a profoundness she’d never seen before.
“For giving up on Mum or for walking out on me?”
Her words served another blow. Dad opened his mouth to speak. His phone beeped. He looked at his watch and sighed.
She knew the cue. Got up, waited for Dad to settle the check, wore her jacket and scarf and walked him outside to his Porsche.
They stood in silence. She felt his eyes on her but she refused to look at him. She refused to let him see the pain that risked ripping her apart.
“So when do I see you again?” She tried hard to keep her voice steady.
Her father swallowed and drew her close in a hug. He placed a kiss on her forehead and whispered in her ear, “I love you”.
She nodded and looked away, biting deep into her lip as if to inflict on her body part of the pain her heart felt.
“Kim, I’ll only be a phone call away.” He forced a smile, “Maybe in some hotel in the city. I’m usually always traveling anyway. I might as well be on one of my travels”.
“Except you’re not coming back.”
Dad didn’t answer. He squeezed her in a hug again. Recklessly. Like he used to scoop Raelynn and her in his arms, and off their feet when they were little. In spite of herself, it made her chuckle.
“You’ll hurt your back.” She laughed.
“Yeah, a second too late.” He comically put a hand on his back and limped around to his car.
Kimiko laughed after him. He turned around and smiled. The pain in his eyes was a clear reflection of her own. With a single nod, he drove off. Leaving her standing there – alone.
Click HERE for chapters 1 - 4
Is Kim's Dad right to leave?
Kim says, "That's all I've worked for." What do you think of her ambitions?
Do you agree with Mr. Hart when he says:"There's more to life, Kim."
Comment and let me know what you think!