‹ Prequel: Winners and Losers
Status: Complete :)

Is That Your Final Answer?


All throughout my relationship with Patrice, my dad had told me it wouldn’t work out. He’d leave me, break my heart, and I’d be so grief-stricken that I’d throw myself from my apartment balcony. Yes, my dad can be a tad dramatic sometimes, but his heart is in the right place. One time when I was younger, he’d told my date that if he parked his car in my garage, the next day he’d have no car.

At the time I’d been outraged that my dad had basically threatened my date with castration if he tried to round home with me, but two months later after our failed relationship, he’d been arrested for aggravated sexual assault. My dad had blown up, and had insisted that from then on that I listen to him.

I’d never listened to him to a certain extent, especially not with Patrice. In retrospect, I should have.

Because then I wouldn’t have had to metaphorically throw myself off my apartment balcony.

“I am going to kill him!” My dad’s booming voice rings through the house like a giant in a cave. I wince and shrink into the back of the couch as he paces like a captive tiger in front of me. “I’m going to castrate him! I’ll burn him alive! I’ll –”

“Oh Gary,” my mother interrupts from her spot across the room in her usual oversized chair, “calm down.”

My father stops pacing, and sends a dirty glare in the direction of my mother. He’s livid; his face red and pinched, and his posture squared off in defense of his anger. I bite my lip and look at my mother from under my lashes. She stops her knitting, placing her folded hands in her lap, and concentrates on the fabric of her pants. She picks an invisible piece of lint off her pants, and sighs noticeably. “Gary, you better not be glaring at me, the person who is not above putting you on the couch for a couple weeks.”

My father, wisely, retracts his look and turns around to look out the big bay window in the living room. The silence is enveloping in the tiny room. My mother resumes her knitting, unperturbed, which takes away from the silence, but I can tell just from looking at my dad’s back that he’s a volcano waiting to explode.

Sure enough, I can hear him inhale sharply, and then he spins on his heel with a loud, “I told you this would happen!”

At this point in time, my mother discards her knitting in a small woven basket beside the chair and stands up. “You are not helping, Gary,” she tells him calmly as she makes her way to him and loops her arms around his one, “Monique doesn’t need someone to tell her what she did wrong.” She looks over at me softly, “And honey, you did nothing wrong.”

I try to smile, but the feeling on my face feels too fake so I advert my gaze to the floor. The carpeted floor creaks as my mom leads my dad into the kitchen. He’s silent, but I don’t have to be able to see him to know he’s still fuming. I’m still his baby girl, he told me when I’d arrived two weeks ago, my face blotchy and tear-stained. Apparently he’s still angry.

A moment later my mother returns, and places a motherly kiss on my forehead. “Why don’t you go for a walk – the fresh air will do you good.”

Internally, I let out a sob and bang my head against the wall behind me. I didn’t need good, I needed Patrice.

When my family had moved out to rural Nashville, I’d waited until nightfall to pick my room. Why? Because when the sun sets, it casts a beautiful orange and red hue over my entire bedroom. The colours are soothing, like a blanket of comfort as they cover everything within reach.

But I want this blanket to smoother me; to make me forget that he isn’t here, that he broke my heart. I push my nose into my knees as I draw them up to my chest, and exhale shakily. He should be here, holding me and comforting me, whispering in my ear that everything would be all right.

The phone rings, loud and annoying in the solitude of my bedroom. There’s a loud thump from the floor below me, and I cringe as my father bellows, “LEAVE IT!”

I sigh; it wasn’t like I really wanted to talk to anyone anyway. I look out my window and down my driveway. The snow running along the unpaved driveway is untouched and pure. Part of me wants to go and kick at the snow, stomp on it and disturb it to the point where it’s just dirty slush. Because that’s how I feel inside; how I want everything that was once perfect to be. Patrice and I used to be perfect. We used to be each other’s world. We’d lock eyes, and nothing else mattered. His brown eyes were kind; loving. With a sideways nod of his head, I’d always know he was thinking about me. Sometimes he had a crooked smile, but I liked it that way. It was crooked like his nose, and it told a story.

And his accent was just so damn sexy. It tickled me pink, rendered me speechless, and made me fall in love all over again every time I heard it. The memory of him, pressed up against me, whispering things in my ear as his hands run up and down my arms makes me bite my tongue to the point where I taste blood in order to stop the tears from falling. I still love him.

“Monique!” My mother calls from the floor below me. The way she says my name is reminiscent of the way Patrice used to say my name. I let out a strangled cry. My mother isn’t even French. She shouldn’t remind me of him.

“Monique!” The second time she calls my name, I heave a heavy sigh and stand up from my bed. I’m dressed in an oversized Harvard sweatshirt and a pair of boy shorts. My brown hair isn’t as pretty, but I’ve got no one to impress in this house. I messily gather my hair into a bun, not caring that I’ve missed a few strands here and there. When I sniff, I notice my nose is stuffed. And if I were to look in a mirror, I bet my cheeks are hollow and my eyes red. Being depressed is ugly.

At the bottom of the stairs, my mom waits with a tender smile on her face. “Your father and I are going out.” She gestures me forward with her left hand. I step towards her silently, too tired to agree or disagree. “Get the mail before your father realizes I’ve put the flag down.”

I pull away and look at my mother. My mouth opens slowly, my immediate question hanging off my lips. However, before I can ask the question, my father comes shuffling into the front foyer and my mother pulls away instantly.

“Barbara, let’s go. Those damn Predator games are always so damn busy.”

Predator games.

Before I can help myself, a loud sob erupts from my mouth as I turn and bound up the stairs. Patrice played hockey…

“Gary, honestly. Your daughter was right there.”

“Barb, the girl is twenty-four years old. She can’t keep moping around! I told her when she started seeing him that he was no good. They’re all the same! In it for the sex, no matter who they hurt.”

It’s silent, and I can imagine my mother being calm yet vicious at the same time. “I swear to God, Gary, if you have done anything to hurt our daughter…”

The rest is cut off by the sound of the front door. In a fit of rage, I pick up a picture frame that had resided on my bedside stand, and threw it against the opposing wall. The glass shatters, the picture lying beneath the cracks, and all I can do is scream out in frustration.

I loved him, and I don’t understand what happened; what went wrong. My father is right, but fuck him! I don’t need my mistakes rubbed in my face. Patrice broke my heart and I need compassion, not a kick in the face. I’m not sure whether or not I should be sad or furious, but either way I cry. I cry because I’m all alone in a crowded room.

Just like I had wanted to, I stomp through the snow that hadn’t been wrecked by the tracks of my dad’s car. I take immense satisfaction in flattening the snow that probably wouldn’t even be here by tomorrow, thanks to not very cold temperatures. I stop down the driveway; all the way down the driveway, and to the mailbox that sits at the end of the driveway.

The fact that I can see a weed poking out from under the snow by the round wooden post the mailbox sits on just pisses me off to the point where I kick it in frustration.


I furiously tug at the metal latch and open the baby pink mailbox. A few letters, nothing exceptional looking, as I slam the mailbox shut and stomp up to the house. The first envelope, I notice as I slam the second wooden door shut behind me, is the electric bill addressed to my father. The second is a tiny postcard for my mother and father from Switzerland, where my brother is on an exchange with his University program. The third is a nondescript white envelope with my name on it. I instantly drop the magazine and other two envelopes on the kitchen counter. Curiosity has gotten the best of me as I rip ferociously into the envelope.

The content of the envelope is a single piece of paper, folded three times. I open it up, and the second my eyes land on the chicken scratch handwriting, I know exactly what this is and who wrote it.

P.S. I love you.

Rage builds up in me and I crumple the note up. How dare he have the balls to write me a note! And to send it to my parents’ house? What would have happened if my dad had gotten to it first?

Despite being livid, I know I can’t just leave my garbage wherever I please. So I move to the cupboard under the sink where we hold the recycling bins. When I open the mahogany-stained wood, I notice a completely untouched envelope. The fact that a pristine envelope was sitting in the recycling was odd, and clearly a mistake, so I take it out. My father better damn appreciate it.

However, when I see my name in the same scratchy writing on the front, I suddenly don’t want to help my father that much.

I’m sorry, is all it says.

I’m sorry, P.S. I love you.

There’s a flashing red light on the phone as I look up from throwing the notes out. A new message that I should’ve just left for my dad was just waiting for me to mess with. I have a feeling that my dad is the one responsible for the discarded envelope, and for that, I feel like deleting the message. But instead, I hit play.

One, unheard message. First message.

A male inhales on the other end of the line. “Baby, I’m coming.” Click.

I inhale sharply, my body losing all feeling. I hit repeat. Baby, I’m coming.

He’s coming. Repeat. Baby, I’m coming.

I can’t focus; he sounded firm. “He’s coming?”

With a startled yelp, I jump and face the front door. My dad’s a big guy; an ex-wrestler from college that had kept his muscle mass to use as an intimidation factor. Now, as he stands in the doorway, I can tell he’s trying to intimidate me. But I’m not scared. “You threw his letter out?” I hadn’t heard the door open, which is probably half the reason I’m so on edge.

All at once, my father explodes. “He doesn’t deserve you, Monique. He’s a goddamn hockey player! He has women all over the place and I refuse to let you be one of them!”

What was he even doing at home?

“I’ve been here for two weeks and you don’t think to give it to me? How long have you had it for?”

“That doesn’t matter!” He bellows, “Because you are not dating him. I forbid you.”

“You forbid me?” I repeat shrilly, “I’m twenty-four, dad. You can’t tell me what to do! I can date whomever I please!”

“What would you have done if he had cheated on you?”

“He didn’t, though!” I retort, throwing my hands in the air.

“But he could have! You’re lucky I got you out when I –”

The second I notice his slip up, his voice fades out. The colour leaves his cheeks and for such a big guy, he seems suddenly small.

What?” I scream, “Dad, what did you do?”

His gaze falls. “I’m just here to grab my cell phone –” he picks it up from the designer table near the front door and shows it to me. “Now bye.”

Tears well up in my eyes as I try to comprehend what he’d just told me. “Did you do something to him, dad?” I whisper, taking a step towards the man that towered over everyone in the room, yet couldn’t hold my eye contact. “Did you threaten him? Twist his arm?”

No answer.

I sigh in frustration and wipe at my eyes. “I have to go,” I say, going to the door and slipping on my boots as I grab my purse from the floor.

My dad moves out of the way, but doesn’t touch me. “Mon, wait –”

I close my eyes and jerk my head as his fingers brush against my back. “Don’t touch me,” I tell him, deathly quiet as his hand drops to his side.

“Where are you going?” he asks as I carefully watch my steps down off the deck.

“To go tell my boyfriend that my father is dead to me.”

“Monique –”

I freeze in my spot just at the bottom of the deck stairs, but not because of my father. There, standing in front of his headlights, is Patrice.

His silhouette is beautiful against the backdrop of his headlights. His hair is short, yet sexy and disheveled. His facial hair is light and scruffy, his eyes sad and downward. When he looks at me through his lashes, my heart bleeds a little bit. He came…

Snow crunches beneath my right foot as I take one step forward. I pause. He looks unsure of himself as he stuffs his hands into the pockets of his overcoat. I take a few more steps forward, slowly, as if testing the water. When I realize he isn’t going anywhere, I pick my pace up. I’m over to him in the blink of an eye, wrapped up in him and never wanting to let go. I hold him by the back of the neck and pull his head down so I can kiss him.

He doesn’t fight any of it, his hands coming out of his pockets to hold me by the hips. I’m standing out in my driveway in Nashville, Tennessee, wearing frumpy clothes and messy hair, kissing one of the sexiest guys to ever play hockey. And I don’t care what I look like. Happy tears slide down my cheeks when I pull away.

I slap Patrice good and hard, and try not to laugh at how calm he remains. “You’re dating me, baby. Not my dad.”

A tender smile spreads across his face as he leans his forehead against mine. “I’m so sorry,” he mumbles, “I deserved that.”

I sigh. “Whatever he said to you,” I whisper, “isn’t true. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

We both sigh, and he straightens himself so I’m left hanging his waist. “Ask me again,” he says suddenly.

My eyes focus on the little pink mailbox at the end of my driveway as I quickly rack my brain for what he’s talking about. Suddenly I feel bad for being so rough to it earlier. My answer comes quickly. “Patrice,” I ask, biting my lip to contain the intensity of my smile, “will you come to Thanksgiving?”

He presses a kiss to my forehead. “Yes.”

I stand on my toes and place a kiss on his lips. “Is that your final answer?”

He cups my jaw in his hands. “It will always be my final answer.”
♠ ♠ ♠
For round two!

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