- Vol. 09
- Chapter 02
WHY THE LONG FACE
It’s their day – Dad Day. Collected at ten am every second Saturday, following the same routine. A walk in the park, then a visit to the local gallery before lunch in the café. No deviation from the established schedule, but it is Dad Day, so Boy and Girl don’t mind. At least they see Dad.
They look at the art. Boy sees that Dad keeps looking at his watch. He always does that when they’re together.
There is something new to see.
“What is it?” asks Girl.
“Can’t you tell?” says Dad. “Look carefully. It’s obvious.”
“A horse,” Boy says simply.
“The old joke,” Dad laughs. They look at him. They don’t know it. He tells the joke and ends with “Why the long face?” and laughs again.
Boy smiles but Girl looks puzzled.
“I don’t get it,” she says. Boy snorts his derision and Dad places a hand upon Boy’s shoulder to quieten him and silently shakes his head. Boy gets the message and shuts up as Dad says to Girl, “It doesn’t matter Sugar. It’s just a silly joke.”
“Let’s go eat,” suggests Dad and Boy says, “Yes, let’s go.” He wants to move on. Perhaps he has upset Dad and he doesn’t want to be in his father’s bad books. He wants to please Dad, not make him cross. It’s important.
Lunch is fish, chips, ice-cream. They eat slowly and Dad asks about their school, their friends, their mum. There isn’t much to tell as it doesn’t really change. Lessons, games, and Mum sometimes crying when she thinks that Boy and Girl can’t hear her.
Dad looks away when they tell him that, then changes the subject.
“We’re going to have to go soon,” he says.
Boy looks at him.
“But it’s our time with you,” Boy says.
“It’s the only time we get to see you, Daddy,” whimpers Girl.
WHY THE LONG FACE“I know, I know,” Dad explains. “But somethings come up. Work.”
“It’s always work,” thinks Boy but he doesn’t say it. He stares at his plate instead.
Girl cries big, sad tears, even though Dad is hugging her. They course down her face as she sobs. They were supposed to be together for the whole day.
“I’ll make it up to you,” he says.
Boy says to himself, “You won’t. You never do.” Boy doesn’t speak, but he will remember.
As they leave they pass by the horse’s head.
Why the long face?