It is a cold and blustery outside, and Papa has yet to return with wood for the fire. He left hours ago, and told me he would only be an hour. I’m worried he may be lost.
It has been a year since the death of Mother, and since then Papa has been acting strange. He sulks around, drinks relentlessly, and doesn’t eat. I try to make him feel better by telling him jokes that he used to tell me when I was younger. He barely musters a grin. When he looks me I can see the anguish of Mothers death etched into the newly formed wrinkles on his face. It saddens me the toll it has taken on him.
It is very cold today. The sun shining is very deceiving and it’s becoming more obvious inside. Our walls are paper thin and there are cracks in the window sills. I can feel the frigid air seeping into the cracks of our walls. Aside from getting colder, I am starting to get hungry. Papa had said he would pick up a loaf of bread from the bakery while he was out. Where is he? The country store is only about a mile away, and Papa has made this trip in less than an hour countless times before.
I remember when Mother was alive. She, Papa and I would take walks into town. We would stop off at the post office, then to the candy-shop where Papa would get me chocolate dipped cherries, and would get Mother her favorite; caramel squares. We would then stroll over to the corner store on Main Street and would pick up the basics: Milk, eggs, bread, etc…. Papa would get his newspaper and Mother would pick up the latest Sears catalog.
Mother made wonderful suppers every night. Porridges, and roasts, sometimes we would even have chicken dinners (which was rare, because the nearest chicken farm was 200 miles away in a neighboring town.) She was a lovely cook, and I’m certain that was one of the many things Papa loved about her. Most nights, after dinner, Mother and Papa would tuck me into bed and sing the most beautiful lullabies. I could never stay awake long enough to hear the whole thing though. Papa and Mother always got along and never quarreled. I could see the love they had for each other was unique and special.
Then, Mother fell ill. She was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors told Papa and me that she had less than a week to live. We didn’t have the money to get her the really expensive medication she needed and the best we could do was to keep her comfortable. She died in her sleep and since her death things began to worsen. Papa couldn’t make it through the day without clearing a liter of gin. I hear him crying every night, cursing in prayer and saying over and over, “Why did you take her?” He got laid off from his job at the nearby coal mine and we can hardly afford food for supper anymore.
“Where in tar nation is Papa?” All of a sudden the door swings open. Papa is standing in the doorway with a loaf of bread and a bundle of kindling for the fire. I smile at him and he smiles back. The first time I have seen him smile in months.
“Sorry I took so long, I have been offered a job at the country store as a clerk!” He says excitedly. “No more freezing house and no more food less suppers! It’s time I stop being so selfish and realize that God took your mother, but has privileged me with a wonderful daughter who needs me!”
Over the next few months, Papa stopped drinking, and has even found a girlfriend. She is a wonderful cook and at night Papa and she sing me lullabies, just like Mother used to.