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In a white room with black cutains

A beautiful 5-year-old girl plays on the fence rail of a bachelor pad/animal house. “Hey sweetheart be careful those rails aren’t very strong” I am taken by deep dark eyes and a mischievous smile. “Okay mister”. Mister, I was not called mister often, with my long wavy brown hair in 1976 I was more likely called miss with a snotty sneer than mister. However, I was mister to this little girl, wow! I had soon met this little dark angels mother and we precipitously entered a relationship, my first serious love. I still to this day could not tell you if it was my love for my ex-wife or my love of being this child’s “dad” which I was more taken by. I was a student and poor as dirt but with the optimism of youth, I set out to finish school and be a real dad to this child. Now Karma is a funny thing. It loops events back upon themselves bringing seemingly unrelated events and people together. As it happened one of my first jobs at 15 was as a pool boy for a local resort. The assistant maintenance person and I became friends. His name was Rick and he looked just like Jesus. Long brown hair and beard and these odd liquid eyes I was going to see in my future. Well one day Rick and I are on break and he tells me about his baby girl and shows me the picture. She was a pretty little baby with those liquid eyes.” This is my daughter her name is Ellen she was just born last November. The pool job ended but Rick and I remained friends, and I would visit a couple times a week for a game of chess and conversation. Over the years Rick got increasingly into cocaine and group sex and I, the conservative romantic, was turned off by the open sexuality. Rick and my friendship dwindled away over time.

Ellen’s mother did not like to discuss her father and I was content to fill the role so Imagine my surprise when I found out where I had seen those liquid brown eyes of Ellen’s before. Rick drove up in his VW van and asked for Ellen from my roommate. I walked out, saw Rick, and unknowingly said “Hey Rick How long has it been three years?” He seemed surprised to see me as I pushed on “ You must need your ass kicked in chess again” grinning broadly and happy to see an old friend. He said “ Nah, man I am here looking for Lori and Ellen, my daughter” Well you could have dropped me with a feather. Rick was Ellen’s Father. Lori was the girl in the picture I saw so many years before and Ellen was the baby in her arms. I never felt such an awkward moment as I looked at my old friend and find out I am marrying his ex and raising his daughter. I decided to lay it all out and said “ Hey Rick, you gotta know some stuff. First, the person you heard Lori is marrying is me. Second, I have been raising Ellen.” It was his turn to be shocked, after all, I was only 15 when we worked together, the same age as Lori in the photo. However, I was now a 20-year-old man and looked like Jesus with long brown hair and a beard. After much awkward silence I said “ Look we are still friends right?” he nodded yes “Well at least take consolation she’s with someone who will love her like you would Rick.” That broke down the barrier and we hugged, determined to be united for Ellen’s sake. We then left the porch and went inside where Lori was waiting. “ So your friends with this bastard?” I said “ yeah Rick and I have known each other since Ellen was born funny you never mentioned that Rick was her Dad even when he came up in conversation” Ellen’s mothers eyes flashed fire and said “ When I found this bastard in bed with two girls I swore he would not have any part in raising my daughter” Shit! Just

when Rick and I get the testosterone worked out the estrogen throws a kink into things. “Rick you better leave now. We’ll talk later” I looked at Lori after he left she was livid. However, I had to call her on this “It would have been decent of you to mention that Rick is Ellen’s Dad his name has come up often enough for you to say something. The way you acted led me to believe her father was not in the picture at all” “It was none of your business and besides Rick is supposed to stay away from us” “ Well if Ellen were my child I would not stay away either. I think your being cruel to Ellen because you’re mad at Rick.” “ Okay fine I’ll talk to him.” She fairly spat the words at me It was icy cold with Lori for several weeks but my relationship with Ellen was becoming strong and loving. Years passed and Rick actually made little effort to be with Ellen. I did my best as a step dad but at 25-26, I was ill equipped for a pre adolescent daughter. Lori’s concrete hatred for Rick continued until his untimely drug related demise at which point he was elevated to a sainthood by her I still cannot fathom. Ellen grew resentful of her mother’s emotional instability and resented my authority as a stepparent. By thirteen, she was running away for weeks at a time. I would spend every free moment tracking Ellen down to bring her home. I would retrieve her from some precinct house from Seattle to San Diego. Dressed in a blue Mohawk and Italian shoes that cost more than I made in 3 months, she would curse me the whole ride home and try to escape if I turned my back on her. “ Ellen don’t you see I love you! Why do you hate us so much? The same stony response I had come to expect from her mother, nothing. I look across

the seat at this leather clad kohl eyed person and my heart cried for the little liquid eyed child I had loved so much. After Ellen’s mother and I divorced, I still tried to reach out to her but she has never accepted my happiness with the true love of my life, Tam or her jealousy over our children, Vance and Olivia. I miss the liquid eyed little girl who would walk though the oak groves with me and her little brother, Ryan. . I will forever miss her lost childhood; taken by an emotional storm I had not a clue how to handle.

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