He fidgeted with the tie again trying to get the knot just right. It never seemed to look quite the way he wanted to. Wayne wished he would have learned that windsor knot Pops tried to teach him. The version that he did pick up worked okay on the cheap ties, but not on the designer ones that he had started to don. He stole one last stare in the mirror and frowned. It would have to do. It could have been much worse, he rationalized.
"Are you ready, Daddy?" shrieked his tiny angel as she came bounding into the bedroom.
Dana had been looking forward to Sunday morning the entire week. There was nothing she enjoyed more than spending time with her grandparents. However, going to church with them was a special treat all itself. She got the chance to dress up and sit next to both of them as the joyous sounds of the choir filled her ears. She cherished the best seat in the house as the older lady who always sits in the same aisle seat would start doing her happy dance. The only thing better than Saturday morning cartoons to Dana was Sunday with Gramma and Grampa.
Despite his better judgment, Wayne adjusted the noose one last time. Still the same frown graced his face, but his daughter's presence caused it to drift slyly into a semblance of a smile, "I'm ready, baby girl."
He reached down to kiss her on the top of her curly locks just as his cell phone went off. He instinctively looked at the clock before even checking the caller id. 11:30. They were running late. They should have already been in church and then he never would have heard it. Then he would have a valid excuse for conveniently forgetting that he was supposed to have Dana back to her mother's by11am as promised. As the divorce decree stated. He shook his head in frustration as he thought on that again. He should have never agreed to that time just because of his odd work schedule.
She would never know they weren't in church. He could still use that as excuse. Nevertheless, Wayne sneaked yet another glance at the caller id anyway just out of habit. Sure enough it was the ex. He quickly pressed the "ignore" button and turned the phone to vibrate. There was no way he was going to let her spoil what should be a perfect day with his folks and his daughter. Her drama had eaten away at him all week long and there was finally one day where he would have some peace.
"I'm gonna go see if Gramma is ready!" the bubbly 7-year-old beamed. And with that she was out the door as quick as she had appeared. The way she could brighten a room by both her presence and even her magnificent exit caused Wayne's face to glow. Suddenly, he didn't care how straight the tie was.
He sauntered down the steps as he gradually made his way to the living room. His father already sat in there catching the last few minutes of Sportscenter while he also waited on the matriarch of the family. The elder gentleman found a way to look stately even as he just sat in his favorite recliner. Wayne knew no matter how hard he tried to pull off a debonair style, he would never come close to the presence that his father commanded.
A ring of the doorbell interrupted Wayne's train of thought. Not Pop's though. "Get that, son. It's probably your brother," he stated. The gentle order came without his concentration ever leaving the latest news story about his beloved Chicago Bears.
Before he could even round the corner, his bubbly daughter cut him off at the pass. She seemingly came from nowhere as she insisted to be the one to open the door. All he could do was beam enthusiastically once again as he continued to marvel her energy. How quickly the bliss disappeared with the sound of just two words the moment the visitor was revealed: "Hi Mommy!"