Their father left just after bedtime on a Sunday night. He had tucked them into the bed she and Stacy shared. Kissed their foreheads, saying “I love you,” to each of them as he stroked the bangs from their foreheads.
Jodi knew something was wrong. She crept out of bed and followed him to the living room of their small rambler.
Stacy ran after her, clinging to her stuffed penguin.
“I’ll call you tomorrow,” their father told their mom, who nodded from where she stood in the doorway between the kitchen and living room.
“Where are you going?” Stacy cried, running to cling to their father’s leg.
He knelt down and hugged her close. “I’ll see you again before you even miss me,” he said, his voice husky with unshed tears. He came to give Jodi another hug.
She breathed in the smell of him, holding tight to his neck.
He untwined her arms gently and held her gaze. “I love you, don’t forget that,” he said, and smoothed her hair as he stood.
He didn’t look again at their mom, as he shouldered a stuffed duffle bag over his shoulder and left.