I rushed towards the living room with my, now broken, fire truck. I had just gotten it for my seventh birthday, and was very upset to find that the ladder was not unattached to the hinges it was presented with. I held in my tears as my footsteps got closer to the entrance before I heard a yell, causing me to stop in the tracks.
"You cheated on me!" It was a woman's voice. My mother's voice. I tilted my head at that word. Cheated? Mother wasn't in school, and even if she was, cheating was against the rules.
I strained my head around the corner of the wall, peeking into the large living room. My father was sitting on our black leather couch with a glass cup with some red juice he always drank. My mother was standing up in front of him, and though I couldn't see her face, her stance gave me all the info I needed: She was mad.
"How could you! After nine years of marriage, this is what you grace with?" Mother asked, starting to walk back and forth in front of my father.
"Alice, please. You and I both know I wasn't happy in this...marriage of ours-"
"I could've helped! You could've told me upfront!"
"A man shouldn't have to tell his wife that he is unhappy. It is the wife's job to sense this and alter herself accordingly. I thought you knew this," Father said, taking a long sip before starting again. "Besides, you should be happy for me. For us!"
"Happy? What is there to be happy about? That you got some tail!" Mother stopped walking and turned to look at Father. "Derrick, you promised me. If there was ever a problem, we would talk to each other about it-"
"And I did talk to you. I told you about the affair-"
"Five years after the fact!" Mother let out a sigh then sat back onto our couch. "God I feel so stupid..."
Father took another sip before setting his glass down on the glass table in front of him, scooting over to pat Mother's shoulder. "Listen, Alice. There are things in life that cannot be prevented. This is one of them."
Mother slowly turned to Father. "...You have no idea how serious this information is, do you?"
"Oh, I do. That's why I'm leaving. We're getting a divorce."
That was the first time in my short life that I had heard Mother's voice crack. I watched her skinny arms begin to shake before she let out a loud cry, covering her face with her hands, Father's hand still on her shoulder.
"Jennifer is pregnant. Twins, Alice, twins! Isn't that amazing?"
"It would be with someone else!"
Father let out a sigh. He seemed annoyed. From the way things would going, I don't think it was justified. "I'm trying to be a father. Is that not what you want?"
"I do want you to be a father. But for Charlie! Not for someone else's twins! You are a father... you have a family! What do you think Charlie is going to say when she finds out that you're gone?"
"I don't give a damn what that child thinks. What has she done for me, huh? She plays with stupid race cars and trucks, refusing to get dressed for even the simplest of dinner parties, and called me 'Mama'. Twice."
"I'm tired of this." Father all of a sudden stood up, and I quickly leaned against the wall in an attempt not to be seen. "I told you the problem, like you wanted, and I fixed it, like you also wanted. There is nothing else to talk about." He huffed before walking into the kitchen, leaving Mother on the couch, continuing to cry into her hands.
I slowly walked over to Mother, pulling myself onto the couch and giving her a soft hug. She must've realized it was me, since she jumped when she turned to me.
"Oh, lovely... Did we wake you? I'm sorry," Mother said with a soft smile. A sad, soft smile. She gently pulled me into her lap and hugged me to her chest, caressing my back as if I was the one who had been crying seconds before. "I love you oh so much, Charlie. Always remember that, my sweet angel..."
I didn't exactly know what had happened. All the talking and yelling made me worried for Mother, and for me as well. Somehow, at seven years old, I realized that my fire truck was the least of my worries.
About a week later, Mother and I watched from the front steps as Father packed some bags into the back of our car. Well, his car, now. He was leaving us behind. Leaving Mother behind.
"I'd say I'll miss you both... but we all know that's not true," Father called as he closed the trunk. Mother's hand gently squeezed mine, so I looked up at her. She smiled, as if she was saying 'It's going to be okay, Charlie.'
Mother then turned back to Father. "I say the same to you," she said calmly. This caused Father to turn to face her, the first time that he'd done so all morning.
Father rolled his eyes then walked back towards the front steps, not daring to climb them. He looked Mother in the eye before turning to me, getting eye-level with me.
"Don't become a disappointment," he said with a smile. He ruffled my hair and stood back up. He didn't even get to turn around before I spoke: