Patrick: Family Life

Family life had a rhythm. It was chaotic in the mornings; the twins shovelled food into their mouths. After a mad search for homework, they flew through the door half dressed to catch the bus. The evenings were noisy but slower-paced. The girls moaned over homework. Leticia assisted, keeping a loving eye on Patrick as he prepared dinner. She surprised herself with how easy it was to slide into family life. Taking on the role of a mother had its drawbacks. Luliana was loving, open and excitable. Having a mum was everything she dreamed of, and Leticia fit the bill most days. Daciana pushed back, yelling at Patrick when he intervened. Leticia rubbed her temples; Daciana could do maths in her sleep and recite chess moves. It made no sense to scream about the variable expressions when she knew what they represented.

The weekend meant forgetting the childish bickering and tantrums. Leticia ensured the girls had no homework or projects. They refused to let anything, the weather included, dampen the two days of excitement. Luliana woke Saturday morning eager to start, unlike the rest of the house. She would shovel pancakes into her mouth faster than Patrick could make them. Speaking with her mouth full, Luliana searched the paper for events or new movies for them all to enjoy.

After Rylan died, his work found itself in the dusty regions of the library, making way for new writers. The movie Patrick hoped would meet the demands of their family weekend was “Breakaway”. It was his favourite book, at least when Eliza would read it to Charlotte, and he pretended not to be listening. The girls were curious but preferred to see “Reading With The River”. Patrick cringed at the idea of another children’s film, suggesting he brought it on DVD. Daciana shrugged; her noncommittal attitude to family life was grating. She wanted to bury herself in her room, crank up the music and ignore the world around her. Patrick dreaded the day the girls became teens; Daciana was a ticking time bomb.

They arrived as the cinema opened its doors. Luliana ran to the counter to request their tickets. She yelled at Leticia asking if she wanted sweet popcorn. The movie was a highlighted version of the book Patrick remembered. A fragmented story flitting back and forth between past and present. It was a relief to Patrick he had read the book, as the girls began a popcorn fight, and Leticia checked her watch. Luliana spoke smugly, how they should have seen her film choice.

Daciana eyed the arcade machine, challenging them all to a game. Patrick watched Daciana, a large grin as she blasted the oncoming spaceships. He wished she would show this side of herself at home; he missed her energy. One by one, their ships exploded. Luliana pouted as the first to go. Daciana remained to the end, completing the level and achieving a top-ten score. She wriggled free his celebratory hug, the smile replaced by cold indifference. His shoulder drooped. Patrick’s enthusiasm to make a fool of himself on the skating rink, disappeared.

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