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The Singularity, Chapter Four, Moll


  11:59:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 835 words  
Categories: The Singularity

The Singularity, Chapter Four, Moll

Author's Note: Laptop lost power, destroying most of a day's update. Sorry for the delay.

?It's good,? Kevin said, running a bite of chow mein over his taste buds. ?Good enough I can almost forget I'm not eating real food.? He meant it to be playful, but he'd already had enough wine that his words slurred, and the humor wasn't present in his voice.

Sam sighed. ?Tofu is food. Meat is unethical- as well as unsustainable.?

?But it is delectable.? Kevin smacked his lips; but really, the tofu was nearly indistinguishable from chicken, he just liked to tease his cousin about it, because at their last family reunion, the two men attempted to eat an entire pig themselves.

His daughter, Molly, was staring down at her plate, scraping her fork against it, and it made a noise that stopped everyone from moving. The older men looked at her, which only made her shrink more in her chair.

Kevin swallowed. ?How was your day, Moll?? he asked.

She stared into the chow mein, but her elders stubbornly refused to forget her, so she said, ?It decided to be rather than not.?

?Okay,? Kevin said. ?But how was school??

?It happened,? she said.

?Oh,? he replied.

?Is everything okay?? Sam asked.

She dropped her fork. ?I think I'd like to go to bed.? She slid her chair away from the table. Kevin watched her disappear up the stairs and into her room, then he started poking his chow mein with his fork, trying to read the strands of food.

?Is everything okay?? Sam repeated. Kevin didn't notice at first, as if the words were just an echo through his wine fog, but he could feel his cousin's eyes on him. ?I'm being serious,? Sam said. ?At work, you put on this, this persona-?

?It's called a bedside manner,? Kevin said.

?But at home you're a completely different man. You're in a funk, and I understand it. But you've got a little girl- you don't have the luxury of wallowing in self-pity forever. You've got to get out of your rut.?

?Maybe you should get out of my home,? Kevin deadpanned.

?I can't afford my own place. Of course, you know that. You were just being a dick about it. But you?re family. That gets you out of the occasional bout of dickery. And yeah, I haven?t always been the best dad to my kids- but I made my choices because I wanted to be happy. But you, you can?t be happy without your little girl. She needs you.?

?You're one to talk about being a responsible parent.?

?My kids still have their mother.? Kevin's mouth dropped open at the same time as Sam's. ?Jesus, I didn't mean-?

?You did. And it's okay. You're right. You know it. I know it. Even Molly knows it.?

?No, I don?t. You don?t. Accidents happen, and there?s no guarantee things wouldn?t have gone down the same had you been sober as a judge and alert as a speed freak. You were way below the legal limit.?

Kevin raised his hand for emphasis. ?Doctor, remember; I know any liquor impairs your reaction times- and I know mine were impaired.? Kevin raised the bottle and poured himself another glass.

?If you made a mistake- if­- it was crawling into a bottle, so I don?t see how crawling into another?s going to fix things.? Kevin winced. But he also knew Sam was right.

?You want the rest of this?? he asked, tipping the bottle towards Sam. Sam licked his lips, but he knew that he couldn?t accept the temptation without weakening what he?d just told his cousin. ?Naw, man, that?s all right.? Kevin poured out the bottle, and dropped his glass into the sink so nosily Sam wondered if it might have chipped.

Kevin walked up the stairs, slowing his steps as he reached the top so he didn't disturb his daughter. Molly's door was ajar, and he looked through the crack. He'd hoped she be asleep; when she slept, she didn't look sad- she looked the way she had when her mother was alive.

The lamp on her nightstand was on, and heard pages turning inside. He felt self-conscious, intruding, and turned towards his own bedroom, but his shoulder brushed the door, which creaked uncooperatively.

?Dad?? Molly asked.

He poked his head into the larger opening. ?Hey,? he said sheepishly.

?You want to come in?? she asked.

He hadn't wanted to, but he recognized the vulnerability in her voice.

She tried to set the book she'd been reading face down into her nightstand drawer, but Kevin recognized it as his wife's dog-eared copy of The Hobbit. She had it under her arm when they met; and she read it to their daughter nearly every night before bed. His eyes welled up with tears.

He sat on her bed and put his arm around her, and she curled against his chest. He couldn't find words for his daughter. ?I miss mom, too,? she said.

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