A Glimpse of Molly
“Did Dad call yet?” Will asked. The hope in his eyes made Molly want to kill her ex-husband.
“No, not yet.”
Despite the emails she’d been sending, and the voicemails she’d been leaving, for a month, the bastard couldn’t be bothered to respond, let alone show up for his son’s sixth birthday at the water park. She noticed Will craning his neck around to look at the other people in line. He was clearly hoping his father would appear and surprise them.
The line to get into the water park moved another step forward. Molly kept her grip tight on Will’s hand. While her ex, Troy, had spent the last four years flying around the world playing commando, Molly stayed in central Texas to care of their son and her aging grandmother. Not that it was much of a problem…except for moments like this. How could anyone miss a six-year-old’s birthday?
“What do you want to ride first?” Molly asked, hoping to take his mind off his missing father.
“The Black Knight,” Will exclaimed as he jumped up and down. “You promised we could do it this year since I’m bigger.”
His enthusiasm forced a smile. Molly suddenly realized he didn’t have soft, baby features anymore. He looked like a little man now, with Troy’s stamp on his face. Troy was over six foot tall and it looked like his son was on his way to being even taller. For all his personal faults, Troy had made them a handsome son.
“You’re definitely big enough to ride it,” Molly said and mussed his hair with a grin.
“I can’t wait,” Will giggled as they stepped forward again.
When Molly had found herself pregnant, despite precautions, she’d hoped Troy would step up. They had both served their full, four-year enlistment in the Army and were due to get out before the baby would have been an issue. Troy’s initial reaction when she shared the news had been for her to deal with it.
When she terminated their relationship instead of her pregnancy, fully intending to raise Will alone, Troy came around and sweet talked her into marrying him. After they got out of the service, Troy tried getting into law enforcement but couldn’t settle into civilian life. He missed Will’s first birthday because he took a job at the last minute with an overseas security company.
“What do you think Dad will get me for my birthday?” Will said. “I want a machine gun like Noah had.”
“I don’t know,” Molly said as they got closer to the ticket counter.
Her grandmother had given him their tickets to the water park for his birthday. Molly had gotten him the new jeans he needed, some fun t-shirts, and underwear. The toy machine gun Will really wanted cost more than she could afford with her call center job. Since Troy continued to work overseas, she’d had no luck forcing him to help support Will. He would occasionally drop in for a weekend and spend a ton of money on toys and games, but did almost nothing to help with the day-to-day expenses.
When they were first married, Troy had been good about depositing his pay in their joint account. They had a nice townhouse in San Antonio that was close enough for Molly to help her grandmother, who still lived in the old family home a little over an hour away. Her decision to divorce Troy came after the money stopped coming. Molly found herself abandoned with a toddler and no way to work or pay rent. Troy never answered her frantic phone calls or emails until it was too late. Thankfully, her grandmother had taken them in.
“I’m sure glad Nanny gave us the tickets to come here though, aren’t you?” Molly asked as she presented the printout from the website to the employee behind the glass.
“Yeah, I just wish she could still live with us.”
A shadow passed over his face as he said it. He didn’t understand why his great-grandmother got confused sometimes. She had been a fixture in his life for the last couple of years, but her dementia had gotten worse.
The McDill family had once owned a huge chunk of prime Texas hill country. Over the years, it had been sold off in parcels until just the land around the family homestead remained. Nanny had found a buyer for her last thirty-two acres, and he’d even paid her asking price without a fuss. That money would buy her way into an assisted living center and take care of her for the rest of her life. The ancient house and surrounding four acres of land were left in trust to Will.
“Here you go,” the woman behind the glass said as she slid over two wristbands. “Enjoy your day in the park!”
“Thanks,” Molly said with a smile.
After helping put on Will’s wristband, Molly put on her own as they walked to the park entrance. Will gave one last hopeful look around.
I wish I could give him the father he deserves, Molly thought as she resolved to make today his best birthday ever.