Jolyne looked up at the wall clock once again; he was an hour late, but he said he would be here in time to read her a story. Her father had been away on a long trip to Japan, and he was due back today, and after the long phone call she’d had with him earlier in the day, he’d promised to see her before bed. The phone rang in the other room, and Jolyne ignored it, her eyes still fixed on the door, waiting for it to open and reveal her father; She was already late to bed, but she’d begged and cried to be allowed to stay up late to great him as soon as he was home. She missed her dad, and as much as she loved her mum, she could easily pick her up onto her shoulder and carry her around, she couldn’t cook her favourite dishes properly, and she couldn’t take her down to the beach and shown her how to catch the fish in the rock pools safely. Her mother marched into the room, a scowl on her face as she came to stop next to her.
“Come on Jolyne, it’s best you head upstairs to bed now.” SHe said softly, bending down to face her. Jolyne knew that she only ever acted like this when she was delivering bad news, which meant only one thing.
“Dad’s not coming home tonight, is he?” She asked quietly, tucking her legs up against her chest as water began to build up in her eyes. She needed to stop getting so excited whenever he said he’d do something; she was six now, and she couldn’t even count the number of times her papa had disappointed her already. Her mother pulled her into a tight hug, rubbing her arms as Jolyne began to shake and sob slightly, disappointment already settling deep in her heart. Dad was meant to be here, he was meant to carry her up to bed and tell her about his adventure.
Jolyne quickly threw herself out of her mother’s arms, ignoring the concerned calls of her name as she sprinted up to her room. She slammed the door shut, and jumped down onto her bed, wrapping herself up tightly in her powerpuff girl bed sheets, cocooning herself off from the rest of the world. The fat tears ran hot and heavy down her face as she buried it into her pillow; it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair that he would run off for so many months and keep telling her he’d be back soon. It wasn’t fair that he wasn’t here when she had to go to the hospital with a fever. It wasn’t fair that he couldn’t keep a simple promise like a flight time to her. All she wanted was her father, and he kept failing to be there for her. She kept crying, her eyes, nose and mouth filling as the heavy shakes too over her body, and she so desperately wanted the strong warm arms of her father to wrap around her and tell her everything was ok. But they weren’t, and even she could see that.
Jolyne suddenly bolted awake from the sound of noises downstairs, wondering how and when she had fallen asleep, or who would be shouting right now. She slid herself off the bed, still wrapped up tightly in the quilt from earlier, and slowly made her way to the top of the stairs. She could hear the noises more clearly now, recognising the sound of her mother’s high pitched shouting, and the deep rumble of her father’s voice.
“-fucking six Jotaro, she shouldn’t be feeling like this!”
“I know, but I didn’t have any choice in the matter, there was a dela-”
“Yes of course there was! There always is with you. Why do you even come home Jotaro? Why do you return when you’d rather not be here?” She sounded so hurt, and Jolyne wanted to go down there to comfort her mother, but she didn’t dare move.
“Because you and Jolyne need me here, the-” Her father tried to explain, but her mother just shouted across him.
“Need you? We’ve been doing plenty fine without you. I’ve been the one here, looking after Jolyne, trying to hold this house together, trying to be both her parents, while you’re running around Japan dealing with apparent family issues. What about this family Jotaro? What about me and Jolyne?”
There was nothing but silence for too long, and Jolyne could feel the tears starting to build in here eyes. Her dad really didn’t love her, he didn’t have an answer for them, didn’t want to be there with them. She was about to run back to her room, before she heard her father finally let out a sigh.
“It’s… I don’t want you guys to get into trouble… there’s… I can’t explain it properly, it’s shit from my past coming back to haunt me.” Jolyne didn’t know what the sound in her father’s voice was, but it was sad to her, something deep that she couldn’t explain. There was a scoff from her mother.
“Why didn’t you tell em about this before? Oh yeah, because you never share any information about your life with me until it’s basically biting me in the ass. We’re meant to be doing this as a family Jotaro, whatever concerns you concerns me, but you won’t let me in.” She sounded annoyed, but there was an edge of sadness that Jolyne was used to by now.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I tried.” He sounded so defeated, and the sofa creaked. “I’ll just make it easier for us. I’m going to pack my bag, say goodbye to Jolyne, and go. That’s what you want right?”
“I don’t know what I want anymore Jotaro… I thought I wanted you, but now… Now I want a divorce. Just pack up and go, Jolyne is in bed and I don’t want you waking her.”
Jolyne sat there, staring down into the bottom floor of the house, her eyes blurring and burning with the tears that were forming. She didn’t understand what the word divorce meant, but from the way her parents were talking, she knew it was serious, and her dad was leaving? Why would he leave them? They needed him. She quickly scrambled up, and ran back to her room, ignoring the sobs that were starting to escape her small body as she dived back onto her bed. She just wanted to close her eyes, and wait for it all to go away, to wake up from this nightmare and just go back to being a normal family.
But it would never happen.