Missy, who is 12, knows when not to talk. Her dad, sitting next to her on a bench in the grocery store is on the cell phone. She is waiting with him to get her allergy prescription. They come about once a month and she is very patient, but clearly bored. Missy is all legs, sharp eyes behind serious glasses and usually carries a book.
Her mother is never with them, which is because she died several years ago. Her dad works long hours and leaves her with his sister (Auntsilvia) a lot. Missy doesn't tell her dad that Auntsilvia talks loud, and smells bad (she smokes) and drives really badly. He has too much to worry about she tells her friends.
Missy is verygrownupforherage. She has heard this from people for years. She used to be proud of that, but now she knows it is a phrase that sounds nicer than- "her mom died and we feel sorry for her." Now that she has figured it out it doesn't really mean much, but she gives her best GoodGirl smile and they smile back.
Missy wishes her dad would buy her a cell phone, but he won't. She thinks it would be cool to talk to friends while she hangs out at her Aunt's house, but he says it’s wasteful and he can reach her there when he needs her. Missy thinks her dad is missing the Big picture, but she doesn't tell him that.
The prescription is ready and she reaches over the counter and grabs the bag. Her dad pays, but she always carries the bag. They don't hold hands when they leave the store, but they walk close together and her dad makes sure she is within arms reach. Missy would never tell her Dad that she appreciates that, but she does.
By the time they get in the car, which is parked close to the entrance at which they exit, her dad is off the phone. He opens the door for Missy to enter before he himself goes around to get in the car.
Missy waits for him to start the car. But he doesn't. His hands are on the wheel and he's looking ahead.
She turns to look at him and sees his right eyebrow tucking underneath his left just a bit – this is how he looked when he first started leaving her at Auntsylvia's. His eyebrow would shift ever so slightly as he'd give Auntsylvia instructions about Missy's allergies and medication. So she knows he is thinking something important right now.
She thinks about asking him what's wrong, but thinks better of it. Her dad always tells her important things, even if he doesn't tell her other things; like things he thinks are funny, she knows he'll always tell her the important things. Missy really would like to know what makes him laugh though - she can't remember the last time she saw him laugh.
Missy bites her inner lip and waits for him to talk, keeping her eyes on a row of trees planted in little cement circles along the parking lot. Some of the trees have too little leaves and weak looking scrawny branches. She wonders if they would be happier somewhere else. She imagines herself digging one out, roots and all, and running away with it - to somewhere completely different; somewhere more peaceful.
Her dad interrupts her imaginings. She almost forgot she was waiting.
"Missy," he says, "I think it’s time we went to see your mother." He paused here, and then dropping his hands off the wheel and looking at her, he continues, "I know I should have taken you long ago, but...”. Missy keeps quiet; she doesn't know quite what to say.
Then he goes on, “Pick a day, any day, and we'll go put some flowers on her grave... or something”, her dad’s voice is so low he’s almost mumbling, but the car is so quiet she hears it all. And as she thinks about this, Missy looks back at the trees again still biting her lip. And Missy's dad starts the car.
-Thanks, e (on who's homenode this story began).