The Unexpected Guest

Posted May 30 2011, 3:15 pm in , , , ,

It’s November. My cell phone rings and I scowl at it. It’s a busy morning with conflicting deadlines on multiple priorities all falling to shit simultaneously and I think, don’t answer.

But I do.

“Trish. It’s… Dad.”

I knew who it was. He’s the only person in my life who calls me Trish. My scowl morphs into something that’s part gasp, part shock. Dad doesn’t call often. He and my mother divorced when I was twenty. He remarried a woman who hated my guts and died of cancer after eighteen years of wedded bliss. So, yeah. We don’t talk much.

And then a happy little hope blooms. It’s two days before my birthday. That must be why he’s calling.

“I have a problem. I… broke up with my fiancée. She kicked me out. Can I stay with you for a few days?”

Disappointment crushes hope and my scowl is back. My mind starts replaying twenty years of hurts, insults, disappointments, let-downs. A snarky little voice asserts that he’d say no if the situations were reversed. None of that took very long. Like a second. The mind is funny that way.

“Sure.” I hear the word leave my lips and I don’t know who’s more surprised – him or me.

I can’t reach my husband to discuss plans so am forced to dump the task on my son, when he gets home from school. Vacuum. Dust. Pick up the socks off the floor. New sheets on the bed. Find mom a therapist and/or stockpile lots of chocolate. Dad moves in that afternoon.

I get home from work. Dad’s watching TV. My husband and my youngest son are upstairs, cleaning up the room my college-bound son left in shambles. Dad thanks me, smiles sadly. “I can’t believe I let this happen. I feel pretty stupid.”

I wave if off. I can see the hurt in his eyes.

“How long can I stay?”

I swallow all those hurts and letdowns. “As long as you need to.”

I make dinner. He eats and retreats to his new room. I don’t see him until morning. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The morning of my birthday, he calls me into his room, opens his arms. I move into them. “Happy Birthday. Also, thank you,” he says. The hurts and letdowns aren’t so sharp. I go to work happy.

Days pass, then weeks. He meets me at my office for lunch one day. I introduce him to coworkers who tell him he looks like my brother, not my father. He beams. I am insulted and fume.

Holidays hit. He helps decorate the tree and I feel twelve again. I like it. We buy an extra ticket to a favorite holiday show to take him with us. He loves it. We have a great time.  My son comes home from college but has to sleep on the floor of his brother’s room.

That sucks because it’s the first time he’s been away from home and I gave away his room.  He says nothing. Not a single complaint. Because he knows about the hurts and let-downs and even though I don’t think it’s possible to love him more than I do… I do.

The boys get Xbox Kinect and invite everyone to virtual bowling. Dad says yes. My jaw drops. We spend a week competing against each other in virtual sports.

At the end of January, Dad decides to head to Florida to visit his brother.

He does not come back.

Instead, he buys a house, remains down there to settle. He sends a truck to my place. I spend a week packing up his stuff, and it’s done. My son gets his room back.

The phone rings over the weekend.

“Hi, Trish. It’s Dad.”

We talk. About nothing, really. Just, you know. Stuff. Nothing’s wrong. We talk for about thirty minutes.

I hang up and suddenly halt in the middle of my living room wearing a goofy grin.

I kind of miss him.

The hurts. The let-downs. The disappointments. I didn’t think about them.

Any of them.



This was written in answer to Chuck Wendig’s double dog dare. But it’s not 1000 words. Nor is it fiction. It just… wanted to be told.




7 responses to “The Unexpected Guest”

  1. Patty,

    Thank you. It’s nice to know that sometimes there can be a ‘happy’ (if that’s the right word) ending to some situations.

  2. Patty Blount says:

    Thanks, Sarah. “Better-than-expected” is what I was going for…

  3. tara tyler says:

    that was a nice change of pace and heartfelt emotions. thanks!

  4. You’re not only a good daughter, you’re a good person. Many would hold onto the bitterness or say that he got what was coming (karma, and all) but you were the bigger person. You took an opportunity to make things better for someone else, someone who didn’t necessarily deserve it, expecting nothing in return. But you reaped the reward. Thanks for sharing. Love your voice. :)

  5. Patty Blount says:

    Thank you, Tara.

    And thank you, Jolyse.

  6. Jeannie Moon says:

    Just read this. Wow. I have tears in my eyes and I imaging you might have when writing it. Bravo.

  7. CMStewart says:

    A refreshing read. Glad you got your “better than expected” ending. :)