By Kelly Smith

A toddler, warm with illness, lay in the crook of her mother’s neck.

She was running late, a woman now.

“Hi Kid, um, it’s Dad,”

She ran into the restaurant - greeted by simple noise.

Sickness was weighing her down, crushing her simple disposition.


She sat at the end of the table, last to arrive, and was fed feeble hellos.

“I just wanted to say, thanks again for spending so much time with

me today.”

The two remain quiet.


It was summer, with the breeze carrying fragrant warmth.

Off to work, her father made his way down the staircase.

“I really appreciate it,”

About to walk out the door, he took a glance at his ailing babe, and made his way.

She looked mediocre at best, hair undone, makeup lacking, and underdressed.

He wrapped his arms around his sweetheart,

“I’ll talk to ‘ya later, okay?”

After each obligatory greeting, they all returned to speaking of alcohol and sex in


And held tight,


She got sick,

All except one, who stayed.

He stayed.

*This is from a voicemail left by Mark Smith on June 11, 2018.