Bliss – Chapter Three

More laughter.

“She must have gotten that from me.” This came from my father who, as soon as it escaped his mouth, knew he’d messed up in saying it.

My smile dropped, and the glare returned. “The only thing I got from you were bruises.”

Once again that awkward silence returned.

“Dakota, come on,” Dove pleaded. He was sitting beside our dad, opposite me.

I wanted to go on, but I felt the sadness in my younger siblings’ eyes.

“Excuse me,” I said. I got up from the table and went to fetch the bottle of wine from the refrigerator. Naomi didn’t know it then but I’d stolen another glass right before dinner was served, while she was in the bathroom and everyone was in the living room. This would be my third. I knew she wanted to stop me, to say something, but she wouldn’t, not with company. The table ignored me as I poured, talked among themselves.

“What are the twins like?” Josie asked in her overly enthusiastic way. “I really wanted to meet them today. It’s such a shame they fell asleep.”

“They’re boisterous, inquisitive, and think the world revolves around them,” Naomi said, chuckling. “Which it does. Someone keeps spoiling them…” She shot me a playful look.

I returned to the table, glass firmly in hand. “I love my children, what can I say.” I didn’t mean it to come out as defensive as it did.

“I think your family is beautiful,” Sarah commented.

I shot her a look. “So your church doesn’t condemn gay people?”

She shifted uneasily. “We’re not that kind of church. Everyone’s welcome.”

I nodded, gulping down my drink, then said, “Dykes, drunks and junkies alike, huh? How progressive.”

Now it was Naomi’s turn to scold me. “Dakota,” she said quietly but firmly.

“There are three gay couples with children in our church,” Josie offered. “Everyone loves them. I think you’d like it there. Dove said you used to be a Christian.”

“I was, before I met Naomi. I was basically living a lie.” Gulp, gulp, without even tasting the stuff. “The church is a great place for people to do that, you know. Live a lie. And when all’s said and done, they’re still the same mean, despicable person underneath.” I didn’t need to look at my father then, the whole room knew to whom my comments referred.

Any minute now, I thought to myself. Any minute now he’ll lose his shit, jump up and try to attack me, then everyone will see him for what he really is. I knew it was only a matter of time.

“Sarah, you’re a nurse, right?” Bless Naomi, she was really trying to keep the peace.

“That’s right. I stopped for a while to have these two, but went back once they were in school.”

“Mom’s saved so many lives,” Josie said with pride. “She does all the work, not the doctors.”

It was almost astounding to see how much they looked up to and were inspired by their parents. The only thing mine had ever inspired in me was fear and self-loathing. I understood Sarah’s appeal, but how could anyone respect my father?

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