Waiting for the Storm
by Marie Landry
Publication Date:April 9th, 2013
“Oh, Charlotte, there you are.” Dad walked into the kitchen and looked at me as if he hadn’t seen me in ages. “That boy who’s working on the porch…what is his name, and why can’t I remember it?”
“Ezra,” I prompted.
“Ezra!” Dad said, snapping his fingers. “Ezra asked me to tell you he had to leave early today to check on a project he’s doing for someone else. Said he’ll see you soon, though. He seems like a nice boy.”
“Yeah, he does,” I agreed. The old Dad—as in pre-Zombie Dad—would have prodded me for information about whether I liked Ezra. He would have jabbed me lightly in the ribs and teased me until I told him everything he wanted to know. I waited a minute, hoping he might ask, but he didn’t.
“He’s a fast worker, too,” he commented instead. “I thought it would take ages to get that porch down, but he’s almost done.” I just nodded, unsure how to respond. After a few seconds, he said, “Anyway, I was going to head into town, check things out. I thought you and Ella might like to come along, but she just left. You up for it?”
“Absolutely,” I said without hesitation. I thought for sure it would be days before I’d get a chance to go anywhere, and I was eager to see what else the island had to offer.
“Great.” Dad gave me a small smile and stepped closer, running his hand down my long braid and tugging lightly on the end. “I know this isn’t easy,” he said quietly. “I know you and Mom were close…and I know I’ve been…” He waved a hand around, as if hoping to grasp the right words from thin air. Finally he shrugged helplessly, searching my face for understanding.
“I know, Dad.” My throat was so thick I could only whisper the words.
He leaned his forehead against mine and closed his eyes. I closed mine too, and felt tears slip down my cheeks.
“I’m so angry, Charlotte,” he whispered. “So angry at her for leaving us.”
I jerked back and looked at him in shock. His eyes were wide, and he looked like he desperately wished he could take back his words. The guilt in his expression made the hollow ache around my heart return. He started to back toward the door, but I grabbed his wrist, stopping him.
“I’m mad too.” My voice was a barely audible whisper now, and I prayed that wherever Mom was she hadn’t heard me. I hadn’t let myself acknowledge that particular emotion because it felt like I was betraying Mom. She hadn’t asked to get sick, and she sure as hell hadn’t asked to die, but it didn’t stop the anger.
I had made up my mind it was one thing I would never share with another living soul. My sadness, my pain, my inability to understand how life could be so unfair sometimes—that was one thing—but the anger was something I was ashamed of.
Until now. Until I realized I wasn’t alone.
Dad just stared at me. He looked like he wanted to believe me, but he wasn’t quite sure if I was just saying the words or if they were true.
“I’ve been angry for so long,” he told me, his voice quiet as if he were confessing his sins and hoping to be absolved. “It’s not fair. She was so…so young and beautiful and vibrant, with such an amazing life ahead. But it was ripped away from her. She was ripped away from us. I know it happens all the time, but it’s just so wrong.”
“I know.” I was still holding his wrist, and I could feel his pulse fluttering under his skin like a trapped butterfly. “I know.”
“But…” He shrugged and wiped at his red eyes. “That’s life. Being angry doesn’t bring her back. It doesn’t change a damn thing, does it?”
I shook my head. Without a word, he pulled his arm from my grasp, turned, and walked toward the sliding doors in the living room. “I’ll be waiting in the car,” he called. “Take your time.”