"Time of Tears"

If you walked down the street on that night, nothing would have seemed
amiss. The people seem normal and happy, as you walk in this California
There is the man standing on his lawn, waiting for his dog to come in.
Nearby, two men talk in low tones, parting in an uneasy manner. A teenage girl
does her homework while staring out her lit window. A car drives down the
serene road, with its driver waving at you as you walk.
Nothing wrong here, you think, envying their quiet lives. This envy does
not last long, and you go home, listening to your watch tick, each tick
meaning you have one less minute in this world.
It was 7:30.

The student smiled as she heard the front door open. Now she could go home
and work on an important paper for class. Her only company in the kitchen was
a small, blond-haired girl. The child was vaguely pixiesh, what with her hair
and grining expression.
The latest arrival was a man, quite obviously the girl's father. They
looked alike, but they also carried themselves in the same way. Their
relationship was close, as evidenced by her tearing over shreaking "Daddy!" at
the top of her lungs.
"Hey, hey. Easy there, Birgen. Your dad just got in the door and may want a
few minutes without a little girl wrapped around him."
"Don't worry, I don't mind." This was most certainly true. Phil loved both
of his children more than anything else, and a few moments of privacy meant
nothing next to a few minutes with his children.
Birgen was already spilling out information about her evening. "We ate
macaroni and cheese for dinner, and I had two helpings, and remember, you
promised to read me my favorite story tonight, and-"
"That's enough for now, honey." Phil turned toward the student and said
"You won't be able to come on Saturday?"
"Right. I'm visting my family then. I hope it isn't too much of an
inconvience to you?"
"Oh, no, I've got Jenna Adams coming then, but I just needed to confirm
things. With our schedules, we won't be seeing each other until late August."

"Yeah, you guys are going on vacation. Well, when I see you again you'll
all have plenty of stories to tell me when you get back.
"Goodbye! See you later!" yelled Birgen.
"Sean? You in there?" Phil yelled in the living room.
"Yeah," called back his oldest child, engrossed in a video game. "See ya
later!" he yelled without really paying attention.
The student left, walking off to do her paper, walking away forever. She
would never come back to the ranch house that its occupents had dubbed "the

It was 7:45.

Part 2