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Someday You'll Understand

Both the best memories, and worst, haunt us and never die...

Fresh snow blanketed a sleepy, Saturday morning, making it the picturesque winter day that we dream. The jungles of concrete and asphalt were hidden, with white on evergreen, as far as the eye could see. Silent coffee aromas, maple sausage smiles, and fluffy pancake pride danced with the early banter that filled their home. In the rock surround, flickering imitation flames removed the edge from February’s subzero extreme. It was not short of perfect. It was.

The excited children had just shared their goodbyes, leaving with their mother for an early morning swim at the nearby recreation center. Their father gratefully remained home to lounge about the house, reading, writing, and digesting, and savoring the caffeine injection needed to start his day.

He didn’t expect callers, but before he got comfortable with his second mug, the door bell interrupted his peace. How appropriate, he thought, as he approached the door. Two peace officers. One of each.

“Are you mister… ?” the burly, young male in uniform asked, fumbling the pronunciation of the man’s last name.

“I am,” the man replied and then added with a chuckle, “Who wants to know?”

Knowing that law enforcement usually visits a taxpayer’s home for one of three reasons: complaints, arrests, and death, the man's defensive smile faded when the male police officer handed the conversation over to the older female.

“We’re sorry, but… “

We’re sorry, but…

That was all the man remembered. Even at the funeral, that’s all he heard; it echoing on repeat in his head. Her words were stuck, like a skipping record.

Sorry?

It’s not your fault. You didn’t know my kids or their mother. Why are you sorry? Are you sorry that you two drew the short straws to tell the poor man his family had been killed; T-boned by a speeding, uninsured driver, running a red light on their way to a stupid spin class?

Sorry?

Seriously?

Are you sorry that you couldn’t prevent the speeding woman from colliding with our lives, killing its future? What the hell do you have to be sorry for? Tell me. No don’t. I don’t care. No, tell me. Screw it. No, don’t tell me. Just leave me fuck alone.

The startled man woke, abruptly rising from the couch where he thought for a few moments, he’d just rest his eyes. His racing heart slowly calmed by the sound of the crackling fire and the smell of the cooking sausages. The coffee remaining in his mug, was now lukewarm. The cream had created a film on the surface, but it didn’t matter. He swirled his cup, mixing the skim coat with the brown liquid before drinking the remainder.

With his heart still in medium gallop, he checked and was thankful that the cooking sausages had not burned. He then tested the griddle for readiness. The droplets of water sizzled and bounced, as they should, prior to adding the pancake batter to the heated surface. The man filled the griddle with irregular circles, and watched the heat bubbles form between the blueberries before flipping the fluffy four. He took great pride in the flapjack’s rise. It was due to a secret recipe mixture that he always playfully boasted about to his family. The man didn’t realize it, but his face was flushed, his eyes were red, and tears had streamed down his cheeks.

He then noticed, with her plate in hand, his patiently waiting daughter at his side. The mindful nine-year-old looked up at her weeping father as he removed from the griddle, the first, absolutely perfect, blueberry pancake for his little girl.

“Daddy, why are you crying?” she asked in her sweet but concerned voice.

He looked at his daughter, smiled through the still falling tears, and then replied, “Someday sweetie, you’ll understand.”

Then in slow motion, the pancake traveled through the spectre of her plate and ricocheted off of the floor, leaving blueberry skid marks on the hardwood. The shell of a man then collapsed at the foot of the fondest snowy morning memory that once was.

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