Mike stood outside the door and knocked. “Hey, you drown in there?” His daughter had been in the only bathroom of their Craftsman cottage, since, he believed, her alarm went off two hours earlier. “I gotta go to work y’know, and would like a shower. Jackie, you listening to me?”
“Jes a minute,” a voice echoed behind the door. “Gimme, jes a minute.”
He leaned against the door jam. “I thought we agreed that you had to be out of there before 7 a.m., remember?”
There was only the sound of a hairdryer going in the little room.
Mike walked back to the kitchen and sat at the table. “I don’t know what we did when there were two women in the house.” His cat looked up then dipped its head back into the cat food dish. Mike shook his head. “Sheesh.” He glanced at his coffee as if there was a light reflection in the cup. “Jenny, I’m do’in what I can. She’s a sweetheart; she acts and looks a whole lot like you.” A tear rolled down his cheek. “I don’t know Jenny, would you talk to Jesus for me and see if He thinks I am handling this okay.”
The cat rubbed his leg and he subconsciously reached down and stroked its fur. “Lord, I know you have my Jenny, but I simply am inadequate to raise a teenage girl. Lord, help me, I plead.” He tightly rolled the newspaper on the table; tension creased his shoulders as he ducked his head. Tears ran freely from his eyes. “Oh, Jenny…”
A soft hand touched the back of his neck, and a shiver went down his arms. For an instant a flood of memory passed in his mind.
“Daddy, I miss her too. “
Mike put his hand up on his shoulder and touched this daughter’s hand. With a napkin on the table he wiped his eyes.
“Jackie, I just sometimes get so maudlin worrying about you. You’re 15 years old. In the blink of an eye you will be old enough to drive the car. I just don’t know what to do to help you. And, I’m not good at any of that female stuff.”
“Daddy, don’t worry so much about me. Aunt Patty lives just a block away, she does everything for me – you’re in the clear.”
Mike laughed. “Yeah right.” He sipped his coffee. “Patty will have you selling Mary Kay before you know it.”
“Nooooo.” Jackie giggled. “None of that old lady stuff for me.”
“It’s best you not say that around yer aunt.” He held out his cup.
Jackie walked to the coffee pot. “Why do you drink this stuff?”
“I like it it.”
“Matter of opinion. What are you drinking for breakfast?”
“Oh, health food.” Mike took the steaming cup from his daughter.
“And, so what’ll you be doing after school?”
“Do I know’em?”
“Susan Smith, Kari Overmeyer.”
“Only Jerry, Kari’s brother, and he’s a dweeb.”
“Dweebs I like.”
“Walk up to the shop when you are done, but I have to punch out at 5p, so don’t be late. I’ll plan on not picking you up.”
“No, 5 on the dot, not a minute late. Come early and you can sit out front and read automotive magazines.”
“I knew you would be.” Mike folded the paper and stood ready to leave the kitchen. Jackie rushed past him. “Hey where are you going?”
“Need to finish my makeup,” she shouted in the hallway. “I’ll jes be a minute.”
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