His third wife pours ketchup on the floor and knocks over the furniture. She leaves the kitchen door ajar, and when dad pulls in from working his second job, she sprawls on the hallway floor. It is after 10 pm. Dad comes into through the door jangling his keys like he always does to let you know he’s home. He steps around the fallen chair and heads to the hall. He stands there in his chef uniform. He has been at work since 7 am. “A—,” he says, looking down at her and her askew and red-stained clothes. “Hey, A—. You awake?”
She doesn’t move. A knife is next to her body. Dad nudges her sides with his foot. “A—? You awake? I’m home.”
She calls me later to complain about how difficult he is. “It’s like he didn’t even notice the ketchup!”
My dad taught me how to look calm and impassive no matter someone says. “That art is second-rate” or “I couldn’t read past the first chapter of your book” gets no more than a nod from me. How do you react to criticism said directly to your face?