Melissa sat in the airport bar, drinking and crying. She’d missed her flight yesterday, and while the airline had been nice enough to find her a seat in a flight a few hours later, it wasn’t soon enough. All she’d wanted to do was say good-bye. Her father hadn’t even been ill two months ago. She could have gone sooner; she could have taken time off and gone to spend some time with him.
She looked down at the Norman Mailer novel she’d picked up at the bookstore in the airport. She hated Norman Mailer, but her dad loved him. She thought she might sit and read to him, the way that he used to do for her whenever she was sick. She was sure he didn’t particularly love reading Sweet Valley High books, either, but he loved his daughter, and that’s what she’d wanted when she was ten or eleven.
Then her parents split, and she was pulled back and forth for a half dozen years before she finally had enough of it and moved in with some boy she didn’t even particularly like just to get away from the two of them. That was just the first step in what became a lifestyle of pushing them further and further away until they were pretty much strangers. She hadn’t seen her father since Christmas dinner two years ago when her brother convinced her to play nice for a couple of days so that they could all be together as a family. But then mom had the audacity to show up drunk and shooting her mouth off about her new boyfriend, and it became awkward and uncomfortable for everyone.
Her father tried to apologize to her, but Melissa hadn’t wanted to hear it at the time. Since then she’d spoken to him three, maybe four times on the phone out of obligation. Birthdays, and such.
When she saw his number come up on her call display an hour ago, she was relieved and anxious at the same time. When she heard her mother’s hysterical voice instead of her father’s warm baritone, she went lightheaded and had to sit down. She knew right away what she was going to say.
She didn’t say anything to her mother, she just hung up the phone, found the nearest bar and ordered herself a Southern Comfort and Coke — her father’s drink — and had been drinking ever since. If she’d just got on the plane yesterday, she could have at least said goodbye.