TITLE: DEAR DEAD DAD
"Mom, are you home?" Amanda swung through the front door.
Penelope, the family dog, rushed over, sliding on the hardwood floor. Amanda allowed her ankles to be sniffed and licked. She scratched Penelope on her wrinkled pit bull head and in back of her silky ears. She shrugged off her navy school blazer and dropped her heavy book bag at the bottom of the stairs.
“Mom?” She called again. There was no immediate answer, but she’d seen both her mother’s car and her Aunt Vivian’s in the driveway.
"Come in here, honey." Her mother's voice, oddly stressed, came from the study.
Amanda stopped in the door. Her Uncle David paced behind the couch where her mother and aunt sat. Aunt Vivian held both of her mother’s hands. The room was dark, one floor lamp lit against the mid-November gloom. The wooden shutters had not been opened, and scant light filtered in from two high round windows filled with eighty year-old stained glass. It was an old house, old by California standards anyway, 1930’s, Spanish style. The fireplace was rimmed with colored tiles that two years ago, for her father’s birthday, her mother had painstakingly matched against the originals.
"What's going on?" Amanda asked. A cold feeling spread through her middle, radiating from where her lowest ribs met.
Uncle David stopped behind her mother and placed his hands on her shoulders. Everyone looked strained and strange.
Amanda’s mom stood and held out her hands.