Good night, pumpkin.
Yesterday was perfect.
Yesterday, Dad and I made a giant snowman. We stayed outside so long I turned into an icicle. Then Dad built a big fire, Mom wrapped me in warm blankets, and we ate yummy soup and bread.
When I got sleepy, Dad carried me upstairs and tucked me into bed. "Lilah tov, Pumpkin," he whispered in my ear, like he does every night. Lilah tov is Hebrew for "good night."
That was yesterday, when everything was perfect.
Today there's a truck in our driveway. Not that a truck is a bad thing. Unless it's hauling your dad's stuff to the other side of town.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning, Izzie," Dad says, giving me a hug.
I barely squeak out "bye" before stomping up to my bedroom. My dog, Sammy, licks my face like everything is normal. But, really, nothing is normal. Especially my belly, which feels like it's turned inside out.
I've had lots of stomachaches since Mom and Dad told me about the divorce. Last week, I had to go to the school nurse three times. She told me I would feel better when I got used to the idea. But I don't want to get used to the idea.
I want to cry, but my tears are stuck. I punch my pillow instead.
When Mom tells me it's time for dinner, I tell her I m not leaving my room.
"Ever?" she asks.
"Ever and forever," I say.
Mom leads me downstairs anyway. She sits across from me. Dad's chair is empty. We don't talk. We don't eat.
The phone rings.
"Hello?" I say.
My heart stops. "Daddy?"
"My new apartment building has an indoor pool, so bring your swimsuit tomorrow, OK?"
"I don't want to go swimming."
"Well, think about it," he says. "It could be fun."
But I don't want to have fun. In fact, I'll probably never have fun again.
I wait for him to say "Lilah tov, Pumpkin." But all he says is "See you tomorrow."
Like I said, today stinks.
When I crawl into bed, there's something scratchy under my covers. I reach down and find an envelope. It says: To Izzie. Love, Dad. I open it and pull out a picture of a pumpkin. It's not even near Halloween.
Great. Not only are my parents getting divorced, my dad has forgotten the month.
I turn the pumpkin over and see the words Lilah tov written on back. I hold the picture to my cheek and think of Dad.
Then I think of something else.
I open my top drawer, pull out my favorite swimsuit, and lay it on my dresser. Just in case.
Today stinks. But I have a feeling tomorrow will be a little better.
By Geri Kolesar Art by Robert Squier