Chapter 2

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Annoying Pinspiration Quote #2

"Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."

The nice part about living in the same city as my dad meant that I was only ever a train ride away from immediate comfort. Walking into his corner store, I found my dad behind the counter, reading a Woman's Day magazine. "That'll rot your brains out, Dad," I said, smiling weakly.

"Actually, Daughter, these magazines are highly educational. Did you know some rapper named his daughter North? Apparently, you can name kids anything these days." He stood, a giant of a man with a flowing mane of grey hair and a beard to match. Although he had no belly, the smaller kids who frequented his store were convinced my dad was Santa – a rumour he did nothing to dissuade.

"How are you?" he asked in his rumbling tone, wrapping me inside a hug.

"I'm okay, Daddio." I wanted to shield him from the total devastation of my life if I could. My dad had been through enough.

But those savvy blue eyes didn't miss anything. He examined me and said, "Nah, you're not. Not even a little bit. Is it Cody?"

"How did you know?"

"Because if it wasn't him, you'd be there instead of with me." He shrugged. "I'm lucky. You only visit me when you're happy, and you visit Cody when you're not. I get the good deal. Except lately, you're not visiting much, and now you're here and you look like someone put a cane toad in your shoe. I figure a certain psychologist might have something to do with it."

Sighing, I wandered over to the freezer and selected a chocolate ice-cream on a stick. "It's not just Cody. It's everything."

"Those are four dollars," said my father.

"I don't have any cash, Dad."

"They're still four dollars."

"I'm your flesh and blood! Have a heart, sir."

"Unpack this crate of tomato sauce and we'll call it even."

"Slave labour." I stuck the ice-cream in my mouth and took the box from my dad's plate-sized hands. Together, we walked down the narrow aisle until the sauce shelf appeared, and I earned my keep, placing the bottles in straight lines with one hand and devouring my Magnum with the other. While I worked, I verbally recapped my woeful life situation, managing to keep the tears at bay by concentrating on the different sauce varieties; low salt, traditional, smoky barbeque.

"So, Cody and I aren't talking, I'm about two days away from being homeless, I'm single, I don't have a job and my life is going nowhere." Awash with self-pity, I licked the little wooden stick clean. "But I suppose as long as I can trade manual labour for ice-cream, I won't starve."

"See? It's not that bad." My dad laughed and clapped a long arm over my shoulder. "It's going to be okay, my girl, you'll see."

"I don't know what to do next, Dad. The worst part is... I think Cody might be right." The words stuck in my throat, but I knew they were true. For the last few nights after our argument, I'd lain awake, contemplating everything he'd said. "I'm starting to think it might be better to fail spectacularly than fail miserably."

"Learning opportunities, not failures," Dad said, wandering back to the counter.

"Now you're starting to sound like Cody. But still, failing is failing. And I'm so scared to lose anything else."

Sometimes, when Dad and I were standing together, I could sense my mother hovering somewhere nearby, watching, desperate to join the conversation. I'd never raised the eerie feeling with Dad, but when I looked up, his eyes were red-rimmed. "You know, Mia... We never told you when you before, but you... You weren't your mum's first baby."

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