Roman Harris rolled over in bed peering up with just-opened eyes at the cream ceiling above, he was still tired but the alarm had gone off and he needed to be up to do breakfast. Groaning he swung his legs out of bed and shivered as his feet touched the cold floor below.
“Get me a coffee.” The woman sleeping beside him in the bed muttered and he grinned before muttering something and stuffing his feet into slippers.
Walking over to the wardrobe he dragged on a dressing gown and tied the sash around his waist shrugging at the excess weight he had on his stomach now, no longer the hard muscles of his youth. He resolved to start running again but knew that it was a foolish thought; he never had time anymore now he was a married man with a family.
Moving out of the bedroom he went along the landing, avoiding the squeaky floorboard, and into the bathroom where he used the toilet before splashing some water on his face as the toilet flushed noisily behind him. He knew the noise would start the wake-up process and he grinned sadistically to himself and then heading out of the bathroom he head down the stairs. His gaze sought out the figure camped out on one of their sofas and he groaned before he saw the nearly empty wine glass on the low wood coffee table.
“Nicole.” He called loudly to wake his elder daughter.
“Shush, five more minutes!” she muttered rolling over and snuggling into the sofa.
He glared at his elder daughter with a look of distaste pinching his face. Struggling to hold back his comments he walked over to the table and collected the glass and the all-bar-the-dregs red wine bottle. He noticed a number of bright red rings on the immaculate table and swore under his breath knowing that his wife would not be happy with that on her precious table. Walking through to the kitchen he deposited the glass in the sink and the bottle in the recycling before grabbing the washing up sponge and after rinsing it out he went back to clean the table.
“This can’t go on Nicole.” He said slowly. “You’ve got a job to go to and you need to pull yourself together.”
“Five more minutes I said,” Nicole muttered stroppily pulling up the cover over her head,
“I take it you haven’t got my coffee yet?” A third voice asked from the stairs, a touch of petulance in it.
“Just about to do that,” Roman said standing up and walking back into the kitchen. He put the kettle on to boil and stood near the sink, his gaze going out the small window and into the back garden. He found his fingers pressing into the cold steel of the sink as his clasp tightened. It was no secret his wife didn’t like Nicole and vice versa. And since his daughter had moved back in there was no end of drama and arguments and more drama and he hated being caught in the middle.
“Come on sit at the table and Daddy will get you your breakfast.”
Roman turned at the words and saw his daughter being helped up into a chair. She looked like her mother, with nothing of him in her. Stepping over to the cupboard he took out her favourite bowl and placed it in front of her.
“Which cereal do you want Lindsay?” he asked softly.
“Coco Pops.” She called out.
He grinned and reached for the chocolate cereal ignoring the frown that her mother gave him as he tipped them into Lindsay’s bowl. Adding a dash of milk he presented it to his daughter before passing her a spoon.
He turned his attention to the coffee, making instant and not the cafetiere that he preferred, before passing a cup to Martha. She accepted it with a look before sitting at the table next to their daughter.
“So what are you doing today?” she asked him, a slight tone to her voice.
“The usual; dropping off Lindsay at school and then heading for the diner for my shift,” Roman said quietly.
Martha nodded, “I said that I would go to see Granddad.”
Roman nodded too, unconsciously mimicking her.
‘Is this it?’ He asked himself. The entire sum of my life middle aged, married, with kids doing the same job I was in a decade ago. Where is the restaurant I wanted to open? Where did my life go wrong? He sipped from his cup looking over at Martha expecting her to say something else, maybe even start up about his daughter Nicole again, and her drinking. Not that he wasn’t worried about the fact that Nic was drinking too much himself but there wasn’t a lot he could do about it. Nicole didn’t want his advice or his help; he could only hope to be there for when she did.
Silence descended between them once more except for the scrapping of the spoon in Lindsay’s bowl. It was oppressive he no longer searched for things to say to his wife to fill the silences between them. Or the moments when they should have spoken. It seemed that they only really talked when it was about Lindsay. The daughter that sometimes he felt he stole from Jack Holden, Martha’s first husband.
“Any coffee for me?” Nicole asked coming into the kitchen. She reached a delicate hand into her pocket and after pulling out a crumpled pack of cigarettes shook out the last one and put it between her lips. Martha immediately shot her a look of disgust which Nicole ignored as she stepped barefoot out the back to stand outside and lit up. A hint of smoke travelled through the open door and he saw Martha wrinkling up her nose in disgust she opened her mouth to say something before closing it again and pressing her lips together.
Roman gave her a quick searching look before he stood and made a black coffee and took that out to his daughter. He saw Nicole fiddling with her uniform before she ran her hand through her blonde hair. He watched as she perched the cigarette in her mouth as she lifted her other hand to her hair and somehow managed to put a band on it and tie it back neatly.
“Thanks, Dad,” Nicole said slowly accepting the cup from him. She blew out smoke and removed the cigarette before taking a long drink.
“So when are you going to sort things out?” he found himself asking and saw her expression change immediately.
“Did she put you up to that?” Nicole hissed out gesturing with her cigarette towards the house where Martha was sitting.
Roman shook his head but he could see from her expression that she wasn’t going to pay attention to his denial. He half smiled before turning and heading into the house. He paused long enough to finish his coffee and put the cup in the sink before heading up the stairs and into the bathroom to shower.
He couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t the life he was supposed to live…