Visiting Hours

I told you before how I live next door to my soon-to-be ex-wife and my children. When it’s “her days” with the kids, she allows me to stop in for a minute after I get home to say hi to them.

I text her once I get inside my place and ask if I can come over. I have to ask permission to come over to the place I lived for ten years. Then I walk about 30 feet and knock on my old front door. I hear my children inside yelling, “Daddy!” and running towards the door. My son usually gets there first and lets me in. He gives me a big hug, the kind little kids do when they jam their shoulder into your throat. He usually brings me a picture he drew for me, or wants to show me something in his room.

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t live there anymore, so I feel weird just walking around wherever he wants me to go. So I stand there awkwardly and tell him I’ll have to see it another time. The girls find me. My eldest is so big and grown-up looking. She says confidently and sweetly, “Hi Daddy,” and hugs me. I ask her how her day was and she tells me something short. My middle is usually last to greet me. Not because she’s indifferent, but because she’s usually absorbed in whatever her current art project is. But then she rushes over and hugs me hard. She lifts her feet and I have to try to not fall forwards. She’s so sweet and warm and I just want to hold her forever.

The house looks different now. She’s already made a lot of changes, but even the things that are unchanged are no longer familiar. I wasn’t even moved out yet and she had a painter in there updating the color in the living room. If she had murdered me, my body would have still been warm.

Other than seeing my children, I hate being over there. It’s not mine anymore and I don’t like the memories of when it was. It’s a Bizarro World Twilight Zone of surrealism that makes me uncomfortable and sad.

I hug and kiss them all again and say goodbye and I love you. Then I leave quickly before I start crying. I don’t say goodbye to her.

She doesn’t deserve it.

Today, to be divorced means bitterness.

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