Roger Llywelyn left his family.
It’s easier to think about it in the third person, think of him as a fictional character in a story I’m telling myself.
Roger Llywelyn abandoned his family when his youngest daughter was in middle school. It happened a week after she got her third period.
I knew it was going to happen. I didn’t know the details and I didn’t trust myself quite yet, but in the weeks leading up to it, I did get premonitions.
There were a couple different kinds. At first, I kept wondering where he was in the generalized visions that I was getting that I eventually realized were of after he was leaving. Then, sometimes I’d get flashes of him elsewhere, not with us, but too blurry to track him down. Those were upsetting enough, but at times…
You know how, when something bad happens, you find yourself forgetting about it? Like the proverbial phantom limb everyone talks about amputees getting? You wake up, turn around thinking your boyfriend will be there because it takes a minute to remember he died in a car crash three months ago. Sometimes, you even get it with dreams. It takes a minute to get out of it. So it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine the opposite. Just imagine waking up three weeks in a row thinking your dad isn’t there anymore, taking five minutes to remember that he is—maybe he even knocks on your door before going to work and you think He’s back! when he never really left. And then imagine that he did. After three weeks, the lie became the truth. Roger Llywelyn abandoned his family without a word, without a trace. He just didn’t come home one night.
His youngest daughter had known something was going to happen, but hadn’t brought it up, hadn’t wanted to. She didn’t really believe it and she was afraid that by bringing it up, she’d somehow put the idea in his head—no, no, she tried to tell herself, I just don’t want it in my head!
Life, after he left, after he disappeared, was different. I’d like to say it was the little things, like Mom not finding his razor in the sink after he used it, but I can’t even think of any “little things” because he was the primary breadwinner—the only breadwinner, for any practical purposes. Any money Mom made as a paralegal was extra. And to make matter worse—
“What do you mean, gone?” we all heard Mom on the phone with the bank. All our savings—he’d cleaned us out. Thanks, Dad. We had to move to a place that wasn’t big enough and at the same time, we all had to readjust everything we thought we’d known about our father.
There were no “little things” anymore.
I had it easy, considering. Was it harder on Jasper, the man of the house just starting high school, finding out his primary role model was a piece of shit after all, or was it harder on Aly, the half-sister, Cinderella to a mom who wasn’t hers, abandoned by a second parent? At least she wouldn’t be part of this make-believe family for long.
I knew how it was going to turn out. I didn’t trust it, still. I still couldn’t convince myself of the difference between prophecy and self-delusion, but would that have made any difference? Would I have been happier, knowing how it would all turn out?