An outsider would think that it was simply a night like any other. A typical summer night. Every few minutes, Jack took his hands off the steering wheel and wiped them on his new pants. The ugly pants which Anne-Christine had insisted on buying. His tie was beginning to suffocate him slowly. Probably just the humidity of the night. Anne- Christine was slouched in the passenger seat, but still not a hair or even an eye lash was out of place. As always, she had spent hours planning her outfit and preparing for the party. But tonight, her feet hurt. Anne-Christine threw her Black Jimmy Choos onto the back seat, glancing for just one stabbing moment at the empty baby-seat. Her shoulders felt heavy, older suddenly. If only people knew what was really happening behind her perfect make-up, the pinned-up blond hair, the impeccable black pantyhose. Jack took a quick look at his wife. Something was not right. He looked back at the road but could still hear her breathing loudly next to him. And then, without warning, Anne-Christine grabbed the steering wheel from Jack and slung the car infront of an oncoming truck. She couldn't do this anymore. There was no other choice.
Herbert Slump was a bit of a sad character. But it wasn't his fault. Not really. HIs life had just made him like this. It was rather unfortuanate really. It all started when he was a toddler. His mother had always longed for a daughter. She had managed to convince herself that he would be a girl and when he wasn't, well, that didn't stop her from dressing him in girlie clothes. Herbert was the only child that she would ever have and, therefore, he had to be her little girl.
It took a few years to 'find himself' in his manhood, but by the age of 12 he was in love with the little blond, pig-tailed girl next door. He truly believed that she was the love of his life and he found great pleasure in showering her with gifts. He had seen which bedroom belonged to her and ever day he threw little letters through her window. At times, the letters declared his undying love for her. Other times the letters simply wished her a beautiful day. On her birthday, Hubert stole all his mother's garden -contest roses from the garden, which he then also placed in her room through the window. The roses were yellow, his darling's favourite colour. The love affair lasted an entire three weeks before being abruptly ended by a loud knock on the front door one Tuesday evening. Her father had come to ask that Herbert please stay far away from his daughter, as his behaviour was a bit scary.
After that, his love life never really did pick up. He did have a first proper date when he was 17 years old though. It was a night that the then pimply, hairy teenage boy would remember forever. Herbert had been quite the cyber Casanova. He had set up a very flattering and slightly exaggerated profile of himself on one of the internet dating websites. Honestly, the profile picture he chose was not really one of himself, but he figured that certain things could be left as a surprise. It was exactly eleven days after registering that he met her. There was an immediate connection between them. The type of connection that happens quite naturally between two physically attractive people. He arranged to meet 'CyberSexy16' at a little Chinese restaurant. They would wear orange (their favourite colour). As he had sat at the table closest to the kitchen in the half-empty little restaurant he constantly wiped his hands on the face cloth he always carried in his left pocket. He could not wait to meet her. That would be THE night. He was certain. He had watched her walk through the door, tentatively looking for someone wearing the matching orange outfit. Finally their eyes had met and for a brief moment their was a look in her eyes that did not quite look like pleasant surprise. They made small talk for a while until 'CyberSexy16' excused herself to go to the 'Ladies room'. She never came back.
This marked the beginning of many similar dates. But he had recently given up on Internet dating. Shortly after his 36th birthday. These days he spent his evenings reading Jane Austen to his now blind mother. Despite everything, he truly loved his mother. And she truly loved Jane Austen.
There was one part of his life that was okay. More than okay. His daughter. His adopted daughter. Her name was Trish and she was the sunshine in his life. They spent almost every weekend at the lake; reading, talking and eating. She accepted him for who he was. Something no one else did. One thing she struggled with, however, was the question of her real parents. She repeatedly asked him to tell her what happened to her real parents. And he would always tell her the same thing: They had been two lovely people. But they had been much too busy to have a child in their lives. They were young and foolish and they didn't want the responsibility of a baby, because of the importance of their careers. He had heard that soon after the adoption they had passed away quite unexpectedly. This always made Trish sad, but she would walk away satisfied with his answer.
Trish looked exactly like her mother had at the tender age of 12. Taking Trish was the best thing he had ever done and he never regretted the day he carried her off during that moment of confusion at the super market all those years ago. It was a pity about the car accident that happened soon afterwards though. Afterall, he never did stop loving Anne-Christine, his little blond, pig-tailed childhood neighbour. Trish should have been his daughter. Their daughter. Things could have been so much more simple if Anne-Christine had seen it that way too.
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