By Sam Vigil
"You're mean to him," I said to my mother as she slammed the phone onto its cradle; her last words to my father were, "I'll call the cops on you for harassment if you phone again!"
"I want to talk to Daddy," I said. "Call him back. I want to talk to him."
"He's not suppose to call here."
"Because I don't want him to."
"Why?" My voice rose a notch.
"Because I said so."
"No buts. You'll see him in a few days for Spring break," my mother said through tight lips.
"Enough, Roberta, end of discussion."
The doorbell chimed and she waved me off as she answered the door to welcome Auntie Karen who was visiting from Arizona and had our mail in hand. They exchanged greetings and she put the mail on the Mission writing-table. "Looks like there's one from the ex," she said.
"Hopefully it's child-support," Mia said.
Karen bent down to give me a hug and kiss,"What's with the long face, honey?"
"My mom won't let me talk to my daddy," I said with a quivering lip and chin.
Catching her sister's eye roll, Karen kissed the top of my head and said, "I tell you what; I'll take you out for lunch this weekend."
"I'm going to see my dad this weekend," I said.
"Then we'll do it next weekend. Just the two of us girls," she said. "We'll have fun, I promise, okay."
"Now go play outside with your dog while your mom and I do some catching up."
Instead of going outside I went to my bedroom until I heard their voices fade into the den. Then I made a beeline for the phone and dialed my dad's number. Afraid of being caught, I misdialed a couple of times with a trembling hand. I am not allowed to use the phone without permission and also have been forbidden from calling him.
"Hello." I heard his tender voice on the other end.
"Daddy," I answered. Suddenly the phone is snatched once again from my clammy hand.
My mother said, "What are you doing!" Infuriated, she hung up on my father.
"I was just... "
"Don't lie to me." She cut me off, intensity of anger rose with each word she spewed out. "You blew it, you're not going to see your father anymore. Go to your room and don't come out till I call you out. Do you understand?"
I swatted the mail from the writing-table onto the brown Mexican tiled floor. I ran outside into the backyard.
Stubbing my toe on a patch of crabgrass, I fell and skinned my knees on the unforgiving abrasive ground. My tears flowed unrestricted. They are not from the sting of sand granules embedded in my flesh but, from a torn heart.
Wallowing on my hands and knees, Monarch, my black Labrador retriever, nuzzled me with a wet nose of empathy. He watched the tears free-fall off the cleft of my sunburn checks, bombarding the forsaken ground.
"I miss him," I said into his uplifted ear. He whimpered and nuzzled me again.
I Sat cross-legged wearing a faded green tee-shirt with my elbows rested on skinned knees; which protrude through freshly torn jeans and my head perched upon my hands. I spotted a blue Adonis bush I planted with my father last year at the corner of the coyote fenced yard. Its bud are breaking through the shells of hibernation and will soon attract a verity of butterflies.
It's amazing how my dad turned the desert ground into a paradise of lustrous rich green foliage splashed with red, blue and purple flowers where the hummingbirds and butterflies would quench their thirst with the sweet nectar from the hollows of the blossoms.
I remembered swinging on the porch swing with my father's arm around me and asking him, "Daddy, how come there are no yellow flowers? You know it's my favorite color."
"Because, when the Swallowtails show up their yellow wings will pop-out from the other colors. You'll appreciate the color yellow that much more, you'll see."
A few days latter we were weeding the garden when a bright yellow spot catches my eye on the Adonis.
"Look, Daddy, look!" I said pointing to the fanning wings.
My dad inched up next to me and whispered, "Did you know that when you see a Yellow swallowtail it means that someone is thinking of you and has sent you a butterfly kiss."
"How do you know who sent it?" I asked.
"Who ever you think of first when you see one."
"Even if it's Monarch?"
"Even if it's Monarch."
I soliloquized, "I'm sending my dad a butterfly kiss." I ran inside to the mail scattered on the tile floor and picked out the envelope with my dad's return address. I snagged a sheet of paper, stamp, and envelope from the writing-table drawer and went to my room.
In my bedroom I drew yellow butterflies on the paper with great care and signed it Butterfly kisses, Love Roberta. After I Went to the mailbox to send it out I'm was met by Karen at the front door.
"I've got good news, pumpkin," she said, "your mom is letting me take you to see your dad for lunch this weekend."
A few days later at the City Limits Bistro I saw my dad sitting in the patio, and I ran to his open arms yelling, "Daddy, Daddy!"
He pulled me up onto his lap, kissed me and with a tear in his eye, he said, "I've missed you so much."
"Did you get my letter?" I asked.
"I've got it pinned up on my wall. I've got something for you," he said, presenting me with a beautifully wrapped gift.
I ripped open the wrapping and unveiled a most wonderful surprise. Framed in a shadow box was a Yellow Swallowtail with wings spread to its fullest. The brass plate engraved at the bottom read, Kisses, Love Dad. This choked me up with tears of joy.
He enfolded me in his arms, and said, "When you look at it hanging on your wall, it will remind you that I'm always thinking of you with love."
Two Swallowtails danced above our heads. "This is the best day ever," I said, and kissed him goodbye.
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