What does she have that I don’t?Â I ask inwardly.Â Automatically, my head answers for me: everything.Â She has everything.Â She is still a gorgeous island princess with a successful career, a busy social calendar, enough designer clothes to open her own shopâ€”and Mika.
Since the marriage ended, the relationship between them and me became nonexistent.Â Talk is mediated through our lawyers.Â Tiresa picks up Abe and Fi, nephew and niece and soon-to-be stepchildren (no pregnancy stretch marks on her, not when she can get kids the easy way), on Thursdays.Â Mika, who is usually busy at the firm, returns them home on Saturday evenings.Â That’s it.Â They never ask for my forgiveness; I never offer it.Â It is the black hole in my soul.
I catch a glimpse of the hippo at the end of the hallway again.Â Damn.
The park wasn’t too crowded, which made it easier for Mika to keep an eye on Abe and Fi.
They ran screaming up the play set ladder and then screaming down the slide. “Daddy, Daddy, push me!” they shrieked for Mika to push them on the swings.
Mika preferred taking them to the newer park near his house, but the kids like their old neighborhood park better.Â For Mika, it reminded him of embarrassing moments with Bella after she gained all that unsightly weight.Â Once, while sliding down the old-fashioned metal slide with Abe, she got stuck and a line of impatient kids had already started sliding behind her, causing a traffic jam.Â Bella shifted her massive hips so that only one butt cheek was on the slide while the other hung over the edge as she scooted to the bottom.Â Another time, he mounted one side of a see-saw with Abe while she sat on the other.Â She crashed to the ground while he and Abe rocketed upward.Â It was a good thing he had a tight grip on Abe lest the toddler would have catapulted over to the North Island.
“Hey kids, let’s get an ice cream,” Mika called after they had exhausted most of their energy and weren’t climbing and running anymore.
“Yay!” the shrieked and ran to him.Â The ice cream shop was just across the street.Â Once they were settled on the outdoor cafÃ© table, Mika cleared his throat.
“Abe, Phoebe, there’s something I want to talk to you about,” Mika began.Â Neither child acknowledged that he had said anything, so absorbed they were in licking their cones.
“You know how Mummy and I aren’t married anymore.”
“Yeah, we know that,” Abe shrugged.Â “You divorced Mum because you don’t love her anymore.”
“Yeah,” Fi agreed with ice cream smeared across her chin.
“That’s not true,” defended Mika.Â “I’ll always love your mother because she is your mother, the mother of my children.Â But sometimes people change.Â Mum just isn’t the same person as she used to be.”
“Who did she used to be?” asked Abe, eyes growing wide.Â “Was she a bad guy?”