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Hope Springs


Dominic Martia

The mail box was far enough that if he met Sallee Berke on the way, she'd have time to bore him with another tale of her lawyer great-granddaughter. He didn't resent her bending his ear, but since the letter from Darlene, paying attention to someone else's life had become difficult.

He never claimed to be a perfect parent. God, if he could only do it all again, how many things he would do differently. Since reading Darlene's letter, he had spent every night picking at old wounds, creating new ones, reminding himself how often he had been thoughtless, stupid, inattentive to reality. How badly he had misread the needs of the people he had cared about the most. It all hit him like a hammer blow, when Alice left, but that was twenty years ago. And now here was his daughter reminding him of how much of a failure he had been. "Christ," he mumbled to himself. I wasn't evil. I didn't come home drunk and beat my wife and children. I made mistakes, but who doesn't?" He was fool enough to think he might tell this to Darlene, but whenever he called she was too busy to talk to him.

Sallee Berke wasn't out, so he walked to his mail box alone, opened it, pulled a few items and looked at each one. Nothing from Darlene, not even one of her cute little cards saying, Dear Dad, maybe I was wrong. I love you, or something like that. Walking back to his mobile home, he almost wished he had met Sallee. Tomorrow's Saturday, he thought. There'll be a mail delivery.

Had Sallee Berke met him at precisely this moment, she might have mistakenly believed he was glad to see her.

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