Mariah looked at herself in the mirror. She couldn’t understand why so many kids chose to pick on her. She wasn’t bad looking. No she didn't have the biggest or perkiest breasts in high school, but she held a nice physique. She always dressed nice. But then again, she was the child with two fathers. She always overheard the gossiping and whispering. She wished she could live in a more open-minded town where kids were nicer to her.
A knock sounded at her door. She quickly wiped away any trace of tears that threatened to cloud her vision.
“Come in”. Her dad, Brandon, gently opened the door.
“Dinner is almost ready,” he said softly.
“Thank you. I’ll be down in a minute.”
Brandon closed the door, giving a faint smile. But Mariah knew the pain behind that smile. The divorce had been ugly. It had shattered Brandon’s dreams of raising a perfect family. His ex-husband, Ryan, had decided that he didn’t want this life anymore. Claiming he didn’t want to settle down. Brandon tried to comfort Mariah by telling her that Ryan felt this family was a burden. But Mariah knew the truth. Ryan, the one she used to call “Daddy”, had cheated, and it was too much for Brandon to handle. Mariah knew that she was the only person keeping Brandon from falling apart. There had been so many times where Brandon, whom she called “Dad”, would apologize to Mariah, with tears in his eyes. Those were the nights she would try to soothe the guilt he felt.
“We’re gonna make it sweetheart. I promise,” he would say. Mariah was actually proud that she handled the divorce much better than Brandon.
She exited her room to set the table, although it would just be her and her dad.
“Sweetheart,” Brandon called to her.
“I got the new job. Remember the one I was telling you about?”
“Really? That’s awesome!” Mariah knew how much this new position meant to her dad. Sure, it included a nice pay raise, but it was more than that. It was a step towards independence and strength for her dad. The ability to care for himself and his growing daughter’s needs.
She walked into the kitchen and hugged her dad. “I’m so proud of you”.
Brandon placed a kiss Mariah’s forehead. “Thank you sweetheart”.
He handed her a plate. Mariah could only feel gratitude for her dad. He hadn't let the turmoil of the separation deter him from being a caring father. If she dared admit, she always felt closer to Brandon than Ryan anyway.