At only five or six years old, my mother would send me to talk to my father whenever there was a tearful, desperate argument between them. He never lost his temper with me.
It was always night. My mother would be crying in the bedroom. "You can’t blame others for your life. That’s what your father does." She swept my hair across my forehead. "You see things clearly, Lucy. You have a gift."
She would drape her body over the second-floor banister as I tiptoed downstairs. The scent of tobacco warmed my lungs even before I entered the TV room. The smoke dried my eyes.
I would stand in the doorway facing the ripped leather couch lined with stale cushions. He was always watching Westerns, holding his wooden pipe. I loved cowboy movies then because of those times I spent with him. Sometimes he would hand me his pipe to puff for play. Then I would say, "Mom’s hurt. It’s not your fault. Can you help though? Make it better." He would pull me close to him so that my cheek touched his bristly cheek, so that my skin tingled and stung, and he hugged me, so that I loved him.
This Is How You Lose Her