“Goodbye, Dad. I will come back on Saturday,” George’s eldest daughter, Alina said while holding her seven-year-old daughter’s small hand. They were going towards their car, parked a little far from George’s house.
“Goodbye, grandpa,” Alina’s daughter said with her high-pitched, cute voice, waving her hand vigorously while her other hand was secured in her mom’s tight grip.
“Goodbye, Alina, and my favorite grandchild. I will be preparing your favorite pizza next Saturday!” George shouted for his granddaughter to hear him from inside their car. The girl popped her head outside of the car and screamed “Yay!”
George shook his head while smiling and waving at them. He watched the car disappeared from his sight and smiled when he felt his black, green-eye cat rubbing its head against his legs. “Hey there, you hungry?” The cat ‘meowed’ and continued rubbing.
George opened his door to let the cat enter his house and the cat stepped inside, but looked back at George, waiting for him to lead the way. After taking his time in locking the door, he said, “Come on, let’s get you something to eat.” The cat followed with its tail high above.
The cat was a present from his granddaughter. She gave him with the idea of not wanting to be alone for he lived alone in his old house since his wife passed away. Alina lived with her husband in their rented apartment while his youngest daughter, Alison, pursued her passion in a faraway country. When Alina’s daughter told him that she had a special gift for him, he was quite overwhelmed. When he asked why she wanted to give him a gift, she replied with a soft voice, “I don’t want you to be lonely.” On that day, George was on the verge of crying.
“That’s so beautiful,” exclaimed George and took a perfectly ornamented box from the girl. He kissed her forehead and opened the box. “Wow!” he said, “I don’t even know what to say.” He really didn’t know what to say because inside of it was a black kitten looking at him with its big, green eyes. Its whole body was so black that it was nearly invisible inside the box.
“Do you like it? I saw on the internet that pets are the best companions for humans,” the girl said softly. George looked at her intensely. He knew that his son-in-law didn’t love pets let alone letting his daughter pack a box of a kitten. And what his son-in-law said, his daughter just blindly obeyed. This was also why Alison and Alina became so distant and hated each other because Alison had never liked her sister’s husband and Alina never listened to her sister.
“So, did your parents know?” George asked with a soft voice. The girl shook her head. George knew that if he told her parents, her daddy would scold her which was the last thing George wanted to happen. George wanted to ask her where did she get it, but the voice, more like shouting, coming from upstairs interrupted him. He gently put the box on the floor and let the black, cute kitten wander around.
“Why don’t you stay here and make the kitten comfortable,” George said gently rubbing the girl’s head, “I will be back with some food for the kitten, OK?”
The girl nodded her head enthusiastically and ran to the kitten, “Don’t scare the kitten,” George said while walking towards the noises. He already knew what he would see.
“OK, here you go,” George said while bending down to place a large plate full of cat food in front of the black cat. The cat ate hungrily and George laughed, “If Jean would be here, she would sit down to watch you eat till you finish.”
Jean was his wife. She passed away five years ago. George missed her from the day she was gone. She was his life, his support, and the leader of their household; organizing everything systematically from financial to health and delegating responsibilities.
“Ring! Ring! Ring!” his phone alarmed him that someone was calling. He rubbed his wet hand with a small towel and picked it up.
“Hi dad, how’re you doing?” It was Alison. George looked at the table calendar and it was Friday. Alison always called on Friday night.
“Hey, Alison. I am fine.” George said while pulling out a chair to sit down. “So, how is your work? Is your gallery going to be opened?”
“Well about that, Dad, I am calling to tell you that,” she sounded sad. “It doesn’t come as expected.”
“Oh well…... good things take time, my daughter. Try again,” George did his best to encourage her, “Try again so that you won’t miss another coming success.”
Alison didn’t reply for a while and George was worried if he had made her cry with his bad choice of words. George rubbed his face and tried to find a word, but nothing came out.
After a while, “Actually, Dad,” said Alison, her voice surprisingly happy and confident this time, “the result came more than expected! I can open my Gallery in the coming month!!” Alison shouted through her phone, and George couldn’t be happier to hear his youngest daughter's exciting voice.
“Oh really! Oh my God! Thank God!" George cried out through his phone, “You’re telling the truth?”
“Yes. I am going to open my gallery, My Gallery! Isn’t that awesome, Dad?” Alison was telling with joy and pride.
“Of course, it is wonderful,” George said. He so badly wanted to share this moment with his wife. “If Jean would be here, she would cry out of joy and kiss me,” Gorge said in his mind.
“So, dad, since I will be opening my gallery next month, I will be a little bit busy,” said Alison, “and so I might not be able to call you as usual.” This made George unhappy. To be honest, George loved Alison more because maybe she was more like him.
“Yeah? That’s OK,” George hid his unhappy voice unsuccessfully.
“That’s why I’ve already booked a ticket to come home,” Alison surprised George who instantly changed into a happy mood. “I will arrive on Saturday, I guess,” Alison continued. This latter statement worried George because Alina also promised to visit him on Saturday.
“Oh, that’s good,” George said with his voice low, “your sister will be home, too”
This stopped Alison from doing whatever she was doing while telling on the phone. Alison sighed and said, “Dad, you know how we were and are going to be like when we’re together. She is not the same sister she was. That bastard turned her into a blind monster.”
“Stop it, Alison!" George yelled.
“I know you don’t like him, Alison. Just give a chance to your sister and be like inseparable sisters you two were before,” George tried to ease Alison’s temper.
“All right, I just want to make a happy memory when I return home, Dad. If it turns out bad, I would regret coming home,” Alison reasoned herself. George didn’t say anything.
“Dad, I have an appointment. I have to go,” said Alison.
“All right, take care. I will prepare your favorite dish when you come back,” George tried to cheer her up.
Alison laughed and said “OK, Dad. Bye,”
George sighed and looked at his black cat licking its hands after it finished eating.
“That’s all?” asked George.
“Yeah, that’s all,” answered Alina before gulping down a bottle of water. Alina arrived at the airport on Saturday early morning, and George was carrying his daughter’s belongings to his car.
“So, how long will you stay?” asked George, his eyes giving attention to the road.
“I will be leaving in Monday early morning. I have an important appointment on Monday,” said Alina looking out from the window to observe the surrounding. Nothing had changed except the climate. George just nodded.
When they arrived home, Alison went straight to her old room while George was preparing breakfast for Alison. Saturday went well because Alina didn’t visit George telling him that something important came up. George had prepared for the time when his two daughters would meet each other, but he couldn’t be relieved more when he heard the news. Sunday was a different story though.
It was in the early morning of Sunday when Alina showed up in front of George’s house with her daughter and husband. When the two sisters met, it would like time stopped, but not in a romantic way, more like a time for hell.
“I didn’t expect you to be here,” said Alina with poison leaking in her voice. “What? Are you going to stay here from now on because your dream didn’t come true? I told you, you should only capture what you could, not what you want,” said Alina sarcastically, knowing well that this would break her sister, but she didn’t know that her sister had already achieved her success.
“I thought you had an emergency,” retorted Alison, “Is your husband having an issue with another girl?”
The two sisters knew each other too well, they knew which are the weak points of others. Alina’s husband was not good before and would never be, that’s what Alison believed. For the first reason, Alina’s husband refused to take responsibility when he learned that she was pregnant. Second, they married only three years after her daughter was born. Third and the final blow was that Alison accidentally saw her sister’s husband kissing a brunette girl, even after their official marriage, in the club where she and her friends went. Alison didn’t tell her though because she knew that would hurt her sister.
If a look could kill, the two sisters were killing each other with their dagger-like glares. Alina's husband just rolled his eyes at Alison provoking her more.
“Aunt Alison,” it was the girl who saved George because he was almost going to faint due to anxiety.
Alison softened as soon as she heard the girl’s soft voice and looked over her sister’s shoulder. The girl ran toward Alison, but before she could reach her, her father grabbed her and said, “Now, Now, don’t run. Let’s get inside first.”
If Alison had a knife or something sharp in her hand, she would stab him in his most vulnerable part. Alina, on the other hand, looked disappointed at her husband but quickly covered it.
“How rude! He is not even invited,” said Alison bitterly.
“Should we leave, dad?” asked Alina.
“No, No. Please, stay. I’m sure your daughter wants to meet Alison,” replied George and gave a pleading look toward Alison.
Alison just sighed and went inside.
The room was so thick with silence that a knife could cut through it. George was sitting at the head of the table while Alina and her husband sat on his left. The girl and Alison were talking and playing in Alison’s room.
When the girl was born, their mother, Jean, was having heart disease, therefore, it was Alison who took care of her sister and the child. Alison was more like a father figure, protecting and providing both of them, and Alison unnoticeably built an unbreakable bond with the child. But, when the child's father came into their lives, Alina changed her behaviors. What frustrated Alison more was that Alina calling her a liar and told that she was just jealous of their happily-ever-after family when she told her sister about her husband in the club. From that day on, it was almost every day that the argument and the fight went on. One day, Alison drove out Alina’s husband and that made Alina leaving her home. Their mother’s heart disease became more vulnerable, seeing their two daughters hated each other. Not long after Alina left, Jean suffered from a sudden heart attack and passed away. The two sisters blamed each other. With their mother gone, the arguments were more violent and harsh. At some point, Alison could bear no more and left her home too, leaving George alone.
Alison and the girl entered the room making it tenser. The girl unaware of the situation sat beside George and Alison took place beside her.
“Hungry?” George asked with his genuine smile, the girl excitedly nodded.
The sight of George’s homemade pizza eased a little of the tension and the family started to eat. But it didn’t last long.
Alina’s husband broke the silence, “Alina has something to tell you, George.”
“It didn’t sound respectful for him to talk his father-in-law like that,” Alison thought. She was itching to punch him straight in his face.
Alina choked on her food and glanced at her husband. She looked uneasy to speak to her father which was unusual. Alison felt something bad is going to happen which would not end well.
“Uh, …. Uh…., Dad, I …., I….,” trembled Alina.
Her husband rolled his eyes, and he, instead, said, “We would like our share of the inheritance. We knew Jean had left a letter of will which might state our share of the inheritance.”
“How dare you!” Alison exploded and banged the table making the girl screamed and cried.
“Stop it, Alison,” George said sternly and comforted the crying girl. George directed his gaze to the man, “Can we talk after eating this?”
“I would prefer as soon as possible because I have a meeting in two hours,” said Alina’s husband rudely.
When no one was unaware, Alison grabbed the bottle of water, drank, and spilled it on his face. This caused chaos between the man and Alison, and the child crying out on top of her lung, and Alina just sitting helplessly in her seat while her father was trying to pull them apart. They were lucky because their neighbor called the police, and no one got hurt except a few scratches and scars on Alison and her sister’s husband. Alison sent an apologetic look to their neighbors and they just nodded understandingly.
No one got arrested though. Alina’s husband told George that he would hire a lawyer for an inheritance affair, and then left for his meeting. Alina stayed at her father’s home while her daughter was taken to play with their neighbors’ children. George was dressing Alison’s wounds when Alina came inside.
Alina looked at her sister and said, “I’m sorry.”
Alison snorted, “Like it will fix everything.”
Alina wanted no more argument, at least for today, so she started to leave the room, but before she could do that,
“Are you that stupid, sister?" shouted Alison, “Are you that blind? What spell did he put on you?” She didn’t let her speak, “Did he ever give you the happiness you deserve? Did he ever give us peace?”
“I know everything,” shouted back Alina, tears started to form in her eyes and her voice started to tremble, “I knew everything. I knew that he was cheating on me before you knew.”
This was a shock both for George and Alison.
“I just wanted to fix it. I just wanted to have a family like Mom and Dad built for us,” Alina continued with her crying, trembling, low voice, “I don’t want my daughter to be embarrassed when her friends and teachers asked her about her father.” Alina could speak no more. So, she ran up to her room while Alison and George were left silent in the room.
Later in the evening, Alina’s daughter was picked up by her father while Alina remained in George's house. George brought dinner to her.
“Eat it up, Alina. This will give you strength. My Food will be transformed into power inside your body,” George said, putting a strand of hair behind her ear. Her eyes were swollen from continuous crying. She smiled and George smiled back.
“Your sister will leave tomorrow morning. She is going to open her gallery next month,” George said and started to leave her alone. Alina cried, even more, when she learned that her sister would leave tomorrow giving her no enough time to fix this.
George found Alison in the kitchen playing his black cat. He sat opposite to her and talked with her for some time.
When it was time for bed, “Go to bed, Alison. You have an early morning flight,’ said George. Alison kissed her father on his cheek and went to her room while George stayed to check every light was off.
Inside Alina’s room, Alina was laying on her bed with her eyes wide open. Her thoughts were in different directions.
“What would Mom say?” thought Alina. “I miss you, Mom,” she said with her low, hoarse voice, “if you were here, I would know what to do.” Alina then closed her eyes, tears rolling down on her cheeks.
Alison was holding an old photograph of her family, sitting on her bed. Her mom was smiling gracefully and her father was holding her waist firmly. Both of them secured the sisters with their arms. Alina looked beautiful at such young age and she held her sister’s hand while Alison was sticking her tongue out.
“Mom would know how to fix this broken family,” said Alison to herself. “I miss you, Mom. I need you by my side to tell me what to do,” she sounded desperate. Alison tightly held the photo against her chest, then laid down on her bed and closed her eyes.
In the backyard, George was sitting on a bench with the cat sleeping on his lap. He was rubbing the cat’s head gently while looking at the sky.
“What would you say to me, Jean?" George whispered to the sky believing that his wife was somewhere up there.
“I miss you so much, Jean” George broke down into tears but not so loud to not let their daughters hear. “I need you to tell me what to do,” George said in his tearful voice.