If there was one thing Lacey’s father believed in, it was tradition. That was one thing that wouldn’t change, with or without her mom, or his job, or their spacious apartment. Lacey was smart for twelve. She had known it was possible they might lose one, even two, of them some day. But losing all three in two years.
Still, it reassured her slightly that some of their old rituals would remain as untouchable as a priceless piece of art. So she and Dad climbed into the family car for a dinner to celebrate her straight A’s. Usually they were able to leave later, but the only apartment that her father’s new job would support was over an hour away from Marcella’s- the Italian bistro where they always celebrated.
Fastening her seat belt across her new sundress, Lacey glanced at her dad thoughtfully.
“Uh…if this is too much, we don’t…have to go.” She hated to suggest that, but she couldn’t stop thinking of all she’d heard in the past months. Words like fired, foreclosure, and cutting back seemed to be jumping out at her like unseen terrors in a horror movie. Was she being selfish, asking him to uphold their old traditions?
Dad raised his head, giving her a long look. She squirmed against her seatbelt, waiting for his answer and beginning to regret asking at all. But all he did was chuckle.
“Honey, can I let you in on a little secret?” He looked around the car (empty, except for them). “Don’t tell anyone.”
They shared a laugh, and he continued. “I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. Honestly, we would’ve gone if you’d gotten straight F-minuses. So,” he gave her a sharp stare that she recognized from just before he would hand out a chore or punishment, “Have fun tonight. “His soft hazel eyes drifted to his still present wedding band.
It took her a moment to answer, having followed his gaze to the elephant- more like a T.rex- in the room. But with a wary smile and nod from her, and a responding nod and gentle tussling of her hair from him, they set out.
It took her an hour and a half to remember that her dad’s idea of fun was very, very different from hers. It happened the moment he saw the restaurant’s extensive wine list.
“So, Dad,” she started, “Sunset Beach opens tomorrow. And since you have the day off-“
“Wha-? The beach? B-but you hate the beach.” He guffawed at top volume. “You’re always goin’ on about how the sun fries your skin like an egg.”
So they were about to go down this road. A road paved by discomfort, sadness, and memories that were painful for both of them.
“No, Dad…that was Mom. Mom was the one who hated the beach. Remember?”
“C’mon, Blair, cut the comedy-“
Silly her. She’d forgotten that some traditions weren’t nearly as nice as others.