Is Mama coming home soon?
I slurped my cocoa as I pondered my next question. The time felt right for the big one. “Is Santa real?” Dad’s eyes narrowed, deciding whether he should tell the truth. “No,” he said. “Dad?” He looked over and smiled at me. “Juni?” “Is Mama ever coming home?”
Dad nosed the car up to the curb outside Sue’s Café, the wheels displacing a wave of grey slush. Dad got out first and swung me over the icy black water. We went inside hand in hand.
We stomped our boots as we crossed the mudroom and as we pushed through the interior door we were met by a blast of warm, sweet air.
The smell of food and the rolling chatter of the diners always revived something in my father and I saw him relax.
Dad did his best to keep some sense of normal life. Mom was dying and our world was falling apart. In the beginning I only knew that she was very sick.
Sue’s café was packed, the eating, talking, breathing fogging every window.