The father stood at the front of the family photo with his chest out and beamed a huge smile. The kids were seated in front of the father on little stools.
His wife Deborah was at his side, and he had his arm around her, tightly gripping her waist.
The camera was an automatic one that the father had set before quickly running to get in the frame.
Click. Big smiles.
The father walked over to the camera.
Just one more.
Click. Big smiles.
It was done. A perfect family portrait. Get this mocked up in a frame and he can take it with him wherever he goes.
The father put the kids to bed and then put his wife in front of the TV. It was Desperate Housewives re-runs. Her favourite.
The father could hear Gabi laying into her husband on the TV. It made the father smile.
Don’t worry dear, I’ll do the dishes. I’ll load the washing. You just watch TV.
The father was a perfect husband. He did everything he said he would. A real whizz around the house.
The house was sparkling by the time he had finished.
There was a chime on Deborah’s phone.
It was her sister Mary - Hey, not heard from you all day. You ok?
Deborah won’t mind, I will just shoot off a short message so that Mary isn’t too alarmed.
Hey all good, just watching TV, really tired. Long day. Off to bed soon xx.
It’s fine. They look at each other’s phones all the time. There’s trust in the relationship.
A reply from Mary - OK call me tomorrow xx
The father thought for a moment, just a moment, a flicker of worry, then replied - sorry better I don’t, I’ve caught a bad sore throat.
The father went to Deborah and gave her a big kiss on the forehead.
The next day, the father puts the frame up in the hallway, the first thing people will see when they walk into the house - the beautiful family, everybody’s dream.
Then he spent about an hour mowing the lawn.
After everything around the house was sorted, the father knew that he could relax, finally relax and that the pressure was on for anything unexpected visits. God forbid, they walk into a dirty home.
He got into the car and took it out of the garage, turned it around and hit the road heading south out of suburbia and through the city.
He loved his family, he really did, but sometimes a man needs a change and this father needs a fresh start. It wasn’t his first change of scenery.
He looked at the picture of his wife and kids on the dashboard and he felt a stab of pain.
If only he had taken that picture when they were still alive.