[I was a bit hesitant to post this flash fiction piece. I apologize if it is upsetting for anyone to read. A bit darker than what most would like to read. I would encourage all parents to address their own issues and not to take it out on their children. Sometimes we do not know when our time is up and what effects our actions may have on those that care about us most.]
“What do you need, Natalie,” Martin’s voice was flat, nearly cold. He had paperwork piled on his desk, charts spread across the floor, and the phone had not stopped ringing all day. He was no stranger to stress, but this was getting old.
“Dad, it’s not my fault…okay…I was just going back to school after lunch like I was supposed to be…”
“Natalie, cut to the chase. I have too much to do. What do you need?”
There was a pause on the other end of the phone.
Martin bit his lip, trying to be patient. That was what the mediator had told him and his wife at their divorce counseling session last night. A twelve-year-old girl needed patience from her parents. He had told the therapist that he was out of patience.
“I…I am…I was arrested.”
Martin stood up out of his chair, slapping the desktop, knocking papers to the floor. He had spent all morning organizing those papers! “God dammit!”
He did not hear Natalie crying.
“How the fuck does a twelve-year-old get arrested? What did you do this time?”
She was sobbing. Martin didn’t care. He was going to have to leave work and nothing was going to get done. She was going to get him fired!
“I…I was just walking home.”
“Walking home does not get your ass thrown in jail, Natalie Marie!”
Martin twisted around to stare out the window. He tried to let his body cool off, not to yell back. He was twenty-seven stories off the ground, above the noisy city beneath him. God, he wished he could just fly away and never come back. Why did he even have children?
“The kids were smoking some pot on the corner… Ashley was there and I was just saying hello…”
“Jesus. I told you to stay away from Ashley. She is nothing but trouble!”
“I didn’t do anything, dad!”
The roaring sound outside the building overshadowed Martin screaming into the phone. He stared surprisingly at the gleaming silver that crashed through the side of the building. An explosion sounded immediately after, shattering glass and flinging shrapnel around Martin’s office. The phone was released from his hand.
Across town, the young child gripped the receiver in her hand, “Daddy…”