The chair legs scraped loudly on the kitchen floor when Frankie MuRong pushed away from the table and strolled through the sliding glass doors to the backyard. He knew where he could find Paisley, on his way in the house through the patio door, he’d seen her diving into the pool.
The pool he’d had built for her after she watched a movie about a mermaid. As a child she became convinced she was a mermaid and they had stolen her and removed her ability to swim. She'd demanded lessons and learned well, determined to one day get to the ocean and swim far away. Where she would finally be happy.
Choosing to sit under one of the many trees provided to keep the area well shaded, he watched his eldest daughter. Her strokes were swift, long, hard, and angry. Back and forth she swam across the Olympic sized pool like a fish stuck in a bowl. Over and over until without warning, she stopped in the middle, treading water and crying. Her back was to him but he could hear her clearly. Her sobs echoed through the water, vibrating into his soul and he wanted to cry with her. He’d only seen her as a rebellious, recalcitrant child. Never imagining her to be so sad and heartbroken.
Looking up as a hand was placed on his shoulder, he stared into the weeping eyes of his wife. The tears falling from her eyes simultaneously with the ones dripping from the tips of his lashes, landed on the back of his hand and mingled. Sitting next to him on the cool grass, she whispered into his ear. Silently, he listened. He listened to her reminder of how his great-grandfather had not accepted the love of his own Chinese grandfather, and the family had not been destroyed. He remembered how he’d felt when Annie’s family wanted to keep them apart. How angry and frustrated he had been when his parents believed it would be best if he continued his education before he married her. Eventually, he nodded in agreement to Annie’s whispers.
Quietly, they watched Paisley plunge under the water, propel upward in a rise as if she would break free to reach the heavens, only to return to earth. Where she beat the water in anger until it rose and slapped back in its incapability to give her what she wanted. Spotting them, she swam to where they were, wiping her face and wringing her hair. Her habitual demeanor of porcelain beauty and obedience back in place.
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