Mike walked into the house and dropped his hockey bag and stick at the door. He went into the kitchen and got some orange juice out of the fridge and drank it straight from the carton not wanting to rummage through cupboards to find a glass. His body hurt from the game he had just played and he rolled his shoulder to try to get some of the soreness out of it. George had hit him into the boards, the big oaf, and he could still feel it. The big oaf should learn to play hockey at his age but at least he bought him a beer after the game.
Mike looked at the clock and it was after 1:00 and boy, would he be tired in the morning. He smelled and just wanted to get a shower and go off to bed. He had to write his teenaged son a note about the hockey try-out tomorrow and he didn’t want to text him at this hour because he would probably wake him up. He knew his son always left his cell phone on in case Sidney Crosby might have the notion to text him – yeah, right!
Mike got a paper pad and looked around for a pen but all he could see was the fruity little pen his daughter loved. Around and around he looked but no pen or pencil was evident and his gaze came back to the fruity pen. No, he couldn’t use that. He probably couldn’t even hold it; it was so thin and small. It was pink, fluorescent pink and had sparkles on it and a fluffy pink thing at the end. If he used it, it would smell from his hockey glove. He looked around some more but no, not a single thing was there. Tomorrow he would have to go out and buy some pens for this place.
He picked up the fruity pen and it slipped out of his hand. It was so thin; he had to hold it harder to keep it in his big swollen hand. Oh shit, it even wrote in pink with sparkles in it. No, he couldn’t use this. His hockey playing son would just laugh at him. Who would buy something like this? Oh, he had.
He had come home late from the office one night and he was pissed. His project had gone badly and he was told to go back and redo it after all the hours he had put into it. John had shown his and he knew how to kiss up to the big wigs and they went overboard on telling him how great he did and a promotion was being thrown around for John even though Mike had done all the work.
He walked into the house and his daughter had greeted him with yet another one of her pictures of him and her. There it was again. A big piece of paper with happy colours on it and he was in it with long arms and she was holding his hand. In the picture, she had this big silly smile on her face and his was grumpy – like he was usually. She kept tugging at his arm to get his attention but all he wanted was a stiff drink to forget the day. He finally barked at her and she stopped. Suddenly her eyes filled up with tears and now he just wanted to have 2 drinks – one for the office and one for being a bigger oaf than he was normally. He said he was sorry but he really wasn’t and she threw her arms around him and then ran away to her room with the picture still in her hand. He went to have his drink but it tasted rotten and he couldn’t finish it. They had dinner and his son talked about his school hockey game and his daughter was silent.
Later his wife insisted on going to the mall and Mike went with her. In the mall, he waited for his wife outside of the dress shop she was in. There across the hall was a store with all sorts of frilly girly type things. Mike looked at the things in the display window. Everything was fluorescent pink and fluffy exactly what his daughter would love. His heart contracted with the remembrance of his daughter’s eyes. He walked into the store and was surrounded by pinks, white and all sorts of soft colours. He looked like a gorilla in there but he didn’t care. What was he doing in this store? What could he buy her? A young sales girl walked up to him. She was petite and had all sorts of different colours in her hair. Her hair was caught back in little ponytails all over her head and he could imagine his daughter being older and exactly like her. She asked if she could help him. She didn’t even reach to his shoulder but her smile was so similar to his daughter’s. He told her about his daughter and she knew exactly what she would like. They walked around the store and picked out a little bag with a flying horse on it and put so many little things in it all pink and fluffy and soft. The fruity pen was one of them. He thanked her and paid for his purchases.
He returned to the dress shop in time for his wife to come out with her purchases. He stood there with his bag and she commented on it but he said it was nothing. He couldn’t explain. They went home and there sat his daughter still silent and sad at the table. She was making more pictures but they were darker this time. He sat down beside her and asked to see them and she showed him reluctantly. His arms weren’t as long in these and she wasn’t wearing a smile. He handed her the bag without saying anything and just watched as she opened it and found what he had bought her. She squealed with delight at each item and everything was better than what she pulled out before. She loved the fruity pen the most and she always carried it with her wherever she went. She threw her arms around his neck and this time the tears in her eyes were for joy and in his also. She bounced away to her room to call her friends and tell them about her new treasures. Mike looked up and there standing in the kitchen doorway was his wife and she had been watching him. She just smiled at him but her eyes were soft and full of tears. She walked over, leaned down and gently kissed him.
Mike remembered that night and after that he changed at the office. He did his best there but he never brought the office home again. After that, his daughter’s pictures were full of bright colours, his arms got longer and he always wore a big silly grin.
He picked up the fruity pen and wrote the note to his son. He laid the pen across the note pad, put the orange juice back in the fridge, and went to pick up his hockey bag and stick from the foyer. He unpacked his hockey gear to dry, showered and tiptoed past his daughter’s and son’s bedroom doors. He glanced at each of them and knew his children slept soundly in their beds. He paused with the feeling of it then wearily moved onto his own and with a smile, crawled into bed, wrapped himself around his wife and fell asleep.