They escorted my children and I into a room we'd never seen before.
The walls were grey and cement, there were no windows, and only a faint glow of the lights above lit the room.
"Will someone just explain what's going on?!" I asked for the hundredth time. "Please, we haven't done anything!"
"Mommy, please don't be scared," Addison whispered quietly, tightening her hold on my hand. "I'm right here."
In any normal situation, I might have laughed. Addison was usually the easiest to frighten of my two children, so that must have said something for how scared I was.
"Thank you, Addy," I replied, squeezing her hand for my benefit, as much as for her own.
The door behind us closed, leaving us trapped in the room.
"Not gonna lie, I'm scared too, Mom," John admitted. "This place looks like a prison."
I exhaled a breath. I had to agree.
Suddenly, a light flashed on behind us, and Addy cried out in surprise. I hushed her. "Shh, it'll be alright, baby."
I had to say though; I was shocked by what I saw.
A man sat behind the glass, which was crossed over with metal bars on both his and our side.
The man was dressed casually--with a yellow-and-white-striped turtleneck and a pair of slacks.
But I knew this man. I wouldn't be surprised if Addison didn't know him anymore, but John and I did.
After all, he was my husband.
My mouth dropped open, and a gasp escaped me.
"Kevin?" I stepped closer to the glass and then stopped.
What was I doing? Why did I still want to go near him? He left us. Just when I needed him most, he left us!
I drew back as a shudder went down my spine.
"Dad? Dad, is that you?!" I heard John exclaim. "You--you're here! You're alive!" He didn't hesitate to go near the glass. In fact, he placed his palms against it as if he could easily pass through it and reach his dad.
Oh, to be so naïve.
"Mommy, who is that?" Addy asked.
What was I supposed to respond to that? 'Oh, that's your dad'? Or maybe, 'Oh, I know you haven't seen him in years, but this is your dad! Surprised, honey?'
No. I couldn't say any of those things.
So I remained silent to her question and instead focused on scanning every inch of his face.
Not much had changed. His hairline had receded slightly, and he'd grown a little more grey around the ears, but other than that, he looked just like he did four years ago.
A thousand emotions ran through my head--very few of them were pleasant.
"That's our dad," John answered for me. "I--I thought he was dead!" John looked at me, betrayal in his eyes. "You told us he was dead!"
I stepped back as if he'd hit me. "He was--is--to me. He--he left us years ago! No word of where he went. I--I thought--" Tears blurred my vision and cut off my words.
Kevin shook his head, his palms braced against the glass, lining perfectly with John's. I forgot how similar they looked now that he was nearly fourteen.
"I didn't leave you--I promise I didn't," Kevin argued. "I swear, if I didn't have to, I wouldn't have."
I felt like stomping my foot in anger, but that would have made me look immature. "You didn't have to! I thought everything was fine between us! I loved you! With all my heart I loved you! Why did you--" I cut myself and swallowed. "You know what? It doesn't matter. I don't care about you, you obviously don't care about me. Just let us go and we'll pretend we never saw you."
"No," John cut in. "He's our dad! You can't force us to not see him!"
I scoffed bitterly. "He forced you not to see him the day he decided to leave. So go on--make me the bad guy here--but at least know this: I stayed, he didn't."
Kevin looked as if I'd visibly slapped him. "I--I promise I didn't, Mary. Please believe that." He stopped and cleared his throat. "Look, something will happen soon, and there are some things we need to discuss before they do."
I released Addison's hand and lifted her into my arms, settling her on my hip. "What would that be?" I asked, trying to reign in my emotions.
He waved a hand and suddenly a noise was heard from under the door behind us.
Four trays of food slid under the door. There were a lot of things that would have surprised me, but I wouldn't have imagined popsicles being on that list. But maybe that was the point of the surprise.
I raised an eyebrow at Kevin and sat Addison on the ground.
"Popsicles? Really?" I asked.
He picked his own off the ground. "Yeah, don't you remember?"
"You of all people should know this. They were the first thing my dad gave me every summer, and the first thing I ever ate."
I scoffed again. "Like I'm supposed to keep up with every detail of your life."
He smiled sadly. "You used to."
I looked down. "Well, things were different then, weren't they?"
He shook his head. "Not now, please. Let's just--pretend things are okay. Just for a little while."
I inhaled, and with an exhale, shouted, "And why should I? How am I supposed to pretend after four years of pretending?! How am I supposed to be okay everything you did?! I don't even know why we're here!"
He closed his eyes and returned my shout with one of his own. "Because everything's about to change, okay?" He stopped and whispered, "At least for me, it is."
"Dad, what's going on?" John asked. "Are you okay?"
Kevin nodded stiffly. "Look, please, let's just eat."
I sighed and picked up my popsicle. "Fine." I tore the wrapper off. It was red--my favorite.
We ate our stupid popsicles in silence until Kevin finally broke it.
"Listen, whatever they say to you, I promise I never did it, okay? You can think what you like about me, but I promise I never did anything wrong." He looked at John. "Okay, Son? Promise me that!"
John nodded eagerly--only remembering the dad he used to love.
"Okay, Dad--I promise."
He nodded to himself then and looked down at Addison. "You sure are pretty, you know that? Just like your momma."
Addy giggled shyly, tucking her face behind my leg. "Thank you."
Then he looked at me. "I love you."
I didn't reply.
Suddenly, doors broke open on his side and armed guards walked in, handcuffed him, and lead him out.
"I love you!" I heard him scream down the hall.
I let the first tear fall.
The door on our side opened, revealing two policemen. "You're free to go now, Ma'am," the one said.
"What's happening?" I asked. "Why did you bring us here?"
The policemen looked at each other and the one sighed before admitting, "Your husband was charged for murdering a woman. His penalty was--" He glanced at my kids and whispered, "Four years, and death."
I gasped, and my hands flew over my mouth.
Horror dawned on me as I realized the stupid meal of popsicles we'd just shared with him had been his last meal.
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Hi Daisy! I'm in your critique group this week. I thought that your story was very original and the build-up to the twist at the end was great. One thing I noticed was that sometimes the dialogue/descriptions edged on melodrama. Also, there could have been more "showing, not telling." Little descriptions can have more emotional impact than telling the reader. All and all, great story!
Thank you so much!! Mm I think I agree with you now haha XD Thank you so much for critiquing my story!