The Family Way

“You won’t need that.” Lucy bossed.

Kim knew he wouldn’t need a second sweater; they were only going for two nights but that tone just worked on him. He’d once found it endearing.

“I might.” Risking a glance over at his wife, Kim continued folding the sweater. “I can’t know now which one I’ll want to wear.”

“You’re such a girl.” Even as they left her mouth, Lucy was trying to reel the words back in. Glaring, she left the bedroom, yelling for the kids to hurry up.

Every trip up to the house Kim’s folks had left him was a full-scale production and, not for the first time, he thought about putting it on the market. Lucy would never go for that; it meant something to her to have a ‘place in the country’.

“Da-a-addy!” Julie was whining, coming up the stairs, “Do we have to go this weekend? I made plans!”

“You want to tell your mother that?” Kim nodded towards the staccato barking coming up from the utility room at the back of the house.

“No! I want you to tell her!” Julie flounced onto the bed, kicking out her bare feet. “You’re the parent, too!”

Julie was twelve and the next six years looked to be trying. Kim didn’t remember anything in the past dozen years that could have prepared him for raising a teen-age girl. How had that spunky darling thing morphed so quickly into this? It was unfortunate that she sounded so much like Lucy.

“You know we’ll have a great time.” Kim tried for soothing. If he could calm her down without getting Lucy back up here…

“Nu-uh. I don’t know that! There is nothing to do up there.”

“Then you’ll just have to learn how to use your imagination and quit sitting around waiting to be entertained, won’t you?” Lucy startled them both mostly with that even, reasonable tone.

Julie wisely held her tongue and slunk out of the room.

“Get your shoes on. Your bag had better be packed because we’re leaving in five minutes.” Lucy called out over her shoulder before swinging her attention back to Kim. “You ready, yet?”


“It’s no wonder the girls never get anywhere on time with you as an example.” Lucy’s tone was still suspiciously calm and Kim tried to read between the lines.

His final surgery was scheduled for next week and he was still waiting for Lucy to break. Lucy had always been the wild child, teasing Kim on their first date about voting for Reagan. She was the one who wanted to home school the kids, who volunteered at the local food co-op. It had taken a lot to talk her out of naming the girls Luna and Eclipse.

She was the only woman that Kim could be honest with about his special things. When she bought him a red and black garter belt for their first Valentine’s Day he proposed. No one got it about Lucy, that her loudness and impatience were her defense. Kim protected her with his name, his success as a respected professional in the sleazy world of high budget advertising and this enormous pre-war apartment overlooking the Hudson, another legacy from parents who never had known what to make of their only son.

“Just this once let’s leave the girlie stuff home, ok?” She lowered her voice even though both girls knew that their Daddy was going to be a lady after next week.

“Why?” Kim didn’t even own men’s underwear.

“Dammit, Kim, haven’t you had your way enough yet? Do you really need to do this?”

“This?” Kim had known it was coming and somewhere deep in his belly everything got calm. Let her say it. Let Lucy shoot her most direct shot and be done with it.

Lucy stood there and Kim stood there and the girls stopped whatever they were doing. Julie crept up to the doorway and waited.

No one said anything for days, weeks, eons. Then Julie stepped into the room.

“Leave her alone, Mom. And hurry up; we’re going to be late getting out of here and traffic will be murder.”

Photo Credit — John Oxley Library / WikiMedia Commons


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