This is a continuation from my last excerpt.
Let me know what you think, honestly! Rip it to shreds if you must.
Oh, and feel free to let me know how incredibly tacky it is that he’s consumed with thoughts of another woman while he’s burying his wife. I’m having trouble with the concept too, but if you read the entire story it makes a little more sense.
Brian stood there with his hands on his daughter’s shoulders, looking out over her bowed head. He felt like he’d been thrown back in time and back to a day he knew he would never forget.
Their blond heads so perfectly matched as they tilted towards each other in an iron embrace. He remembered the day like it was yesterday, the picture as clear as the bright blue sky above his head. He knew right then—as sure as he was breathing that he loved Alyssa—who knows this stuff at eight? He wanted to scoff at himself but he didn’t have the energy. Who the hell knows what love is at eight? He couldn’t explain it to himself but he couldn’t deny it either.
Watching Alyssa and Ali cry over their father’s coffin on that day twenty-five years ago was so like today. There they stood, holding each other again, Ali’s hand reached out to Bobby’s but her arm around Alyssa, their heads together crying all over again. He glanced at their mother, Susan Parker and knew he’d not given her enough credit for what she’d done, raising her daughters alone, being widowed at a young age. Her girls growing up without a father, his friends, he remembered how hard it had been for them both. He wanted to cry too, and he did. He cried for his friends and for Alyssa, it hurt him to his soul to see the pain and tears in her eyes everyday.
Brian remembered growing up hating Susan. Every time she kept Alyssa from him, every time she wouldn’t let Alyssa see him or talk to him he cursed her, but now he had a better idea of what she had went through. They were just kids, he and Alyssa. Whadda ya know, Susan Parker had been right about Brian all along. All he did was hurt Alyssa in the end just as Susan had known he would.
For Brian it was just beginning. He looked again at Julie’s shining coffin glinting in the bright sun and wanted to kick himself for thinking about Alyssa on this day, the very day he had to put his wife in the ground. If Julie could hear his thoughts she would hate him, ironically enough so would Alyssa. Alyssa would never respect him, not after what he’d done to her and especially if she knew his true feelings now, Brian again had to force back his tears.
How did he get here? How did so many things change since that day? Nothing was what it should have been, but how could he regret? How could he—as he stood there with his daughter? Regret her? Regret his life to this point? Regret Julie? No, he didn’t, of course not, but regret Alyssa? Yes, there were regrets where Alyssa was concerned. He loved Erin with his whole heart; he couldn’t imagine his life without his beautiful daughter. He’d loved Julie too, but Alyssa was different and he knew it. He couldn’t explain it, just different than Julie. Alyssa held a part of his soul. To this day she still gripped it in her hands. That part of him had been missing in his life with Julie, the part he’d left behind with Alyssa when he’d decided to marry Julie.
Alyssa will always have it, even after she marries that jerk-off from Berkeley. Even then she’ll own a part of him. His stomach lurched at the thought of her with him, but what could he do. He’d given up on her; he’d walked away and given himself to Julie.
Is this what it felt like to Alyssa? Did she feel this sinking overwhelming sick feeling when she found out about him and Julie? Had she been living with it for fifteen years? Was her love for him equal to his for her? He couldn’t remember if he’d ever told her how much he loved her. Did I tell her? Did she know? Did that make everything harder for her? Did I tell Julie? Did Julie know how much I loved her? It’s too late to fix that—she’s gone—Julie is gone, Brian, Julie is dead—urgh! Did she know how important she was to me? Even after the hateful things he’d said he still cared for her—and now she’s dead.
What if Julie were here? What if Julie was here and Alyssa was in that coffin? Brian inhaled a loud gasp at the thought. He felt his chest tighten and tried to take a deep breath. Don’t, man—just get through this day and stop thinking about Alyssa, Christ, man—stop! He reached up and rubbed the sweat from his forehead.
Erin turned to look at him with red-rimmed eyes and a slight smile of support. “I love you, Daddy.”
Brian cupped her neck and kissed the top of her head as a tear rolled down his cheek. “I love you too, hunny.”