He makes me so angry I want to scream. I thought he was out of my life forever after that final blow but every day he haunts me and I can’t seem to escape his suffocating grip. Seems he can still suffocate me from 300 miles away.
“So, how’s the new boyfriend?” God, I want to punch him in his stupid face. “I hear he’s an accountant?” I hear the smirk in his voice and it’s all I can do not to cry. “That seems like a stable profession.” A muffled snicker, as if covering the mouthpiece with one hand.
“What do you want?”
“I just wanted to talk, catch up, you know? Or am I not allowed to ring up an old friend anymore?” With those words I feel his hot breath on my neck, his hands tracing along my spine, putting every nerve in my body on end.
“We aren’t friends anymore, you know that.” His teeth grazing my cheekbone.
“Oh come on, I thought we put this behind us.” His fingers raking the tender skin of my belly.
“Maybe you left this behind, but I’m still living in this nightmare. I couldn’t escape.” His lips whispering against my ear, whispering it would be over soon.
“Now don’t be like that, you know you could walk away whenever you want.” The heat of his body pressed heavily on mine.
“No, I can’t. Maybe it was easy for you, but I can’t just abandon her like you abandoned me.” The pain and the guilt that pulsed through me.
“It was your choice. You made the decision.” The hope that maybe this would patch up our wounded relationship.
“I had to. You weren’t enough of a man to do it yourself.” The disgust I felt when it was all over. But it’s never over.
“I was willing to pay for it.” His eyes, blazing in the darkness, staring straight into my soul and stealing whatever secrets I had tucked away. Hidden deep down away from the prying eyes of the world.
“You were willing to pay for her death, but now I’m paying for her life. Just leave us alone.”
“How is she?” I knew it. That was all he cared about. The bloodline.
“She’s doing fine without you. She’s asleep. Don’t call here anymore.” I started to hang up.
“Wait! Is there anything I can do to help? Can I send a check?” Of course. He wanted to put a Band-Aid on it and make it all better.
“No. The only way you can help is by staying out of her life. She doesn’t need a toxic parent like you.” A sigh. A dejected sigh. And unexpectedly soft sigh.
“I just want to help in any way I can.” Was he crying? Did he really feel sorrow for what he did? He felt?
“Well, you can’t. Anything you would do would be an insult. Just stay out of the picture.” A choked sob.
“I really am sorry.” He sounded like he meant it and I felt a twinge of pity. But not enough to bestow any mercy.
“Likely story. Good night. It was lovely catching up with you.” A dial tone. Silence. And then a tiny sniffle. I whipped around to see my daughter standing in the archway to the kitchen. My heart leapt into my throat.
“Honey, how long have you been standing there?” She just sniffed and dabbed small tears from her dazzlingly blue eyes. The eyes that once enticed me, and still haunt me to this day. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“Daddy doesn’t love me.” Tears welled in my own eyes to see pain in hers.
“That’s not true. Daddy does love you, very much. He was crying because he can’t see you.” I left out that I was the one keeping them apart.
“Really?” She smiled broadly, her father’s eyes beaming up at me in the dim light of my office, hopeful even in sorrow.
“Really. But he’s a very sick man. He can’t be with us.” She nodded once, understanding beyond her years. “Why don’t you go back to bed sweetie, and I’ll come tuck you in.”
She sniffed once more before compliantly shuffling back to bed, dragging her blankie behind her. I heaved a sigh and sank back into his old chair, rubbing my eyes. Maybe that check wasn’t such a bad idea after all.