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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
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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