8: The Star Family

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         Kareem, Kasashn and Kahran Star

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      Kareem, Kasashn and Kahran Star

"Dad? Daddy wake up!"

Kareem wakes up to tiny hands smacking him against the face. He can barely open his eyes due to the multiple stubby fingers attempting to pull his eyelids open for him.

Kasahn and Kahran are the first ones to come into his vision as he sits up. The second thing that he notices is the broken alarm clock that's shattered on the floor. With a ball of nerves in his stomach, Kareem peeks at his cellphone to figure out what time it is. When he realizes that he's running behind, he skyrockets out the bed with both boys in his arms.

"We brushed our teeth daddy, but we couldn't reach the clothes." Kahran informs, an innocent smile spreading across his toothpaste stained face.

"That's alright, thank y'all for being big boys for me." Kareem glows with pride as he pulls out their outfits. "Get dressed for me while I clean up this broken clock."

The twins follow his directions and dress themselves, messing with each other during the entire process. Kareem returns to his bedroom to straighten up and get dressed as well, his heart thumping the whole time.

When he finishes the tasks, he rushes into the kitchen to grab everyone's lunches. He throws the two Batman lunch bags into their backpacks and ushers everyone out of the apartment. Luckily for Kareem, the distance to the boys' school is only ten minutes away from their place.

"You don't have to walk us in dad, we got it." Kasahn insists with an assuring smile.

"He just wants to see Miss. Brooks!"

Kareem's ears perk up. "Miss. Brooks? Who is that?"

"Our new teacher lady. Kasahn said she's pretty."

Even though he's more than late to work, Kareem has to use a moment to admire both of his children as they sit behind him. Staring into their eyes is like staring at Leena, a potent mixture of bitter sweetness that he can't fully decipher. The loss of her still presses heavily on his chest as if it occurred only yesterday and not years ago.

After becoming a single father of two, Kareem's life and plan drastically changed in a way he wasn't expecting. Although his daily routine consisted of taking care of the boys, certain days he couldn't help but wonder if he was doing a good enough job. Leena's tragic absence in their lives only stung more on days like this.

"Alright then, y'all have a good day and I'll see you later. I love you!" Kareem shouts out the window, watching them walk down the stretch of cement leading to the school building.

Although he knows they're more than capable of walking in the school alone, he still finds himself watching them walk the entire way. He doesn't drive away until the boys open the door and enter the building.

As soon as Kareem starts his journey to work, he pulls out his phone to notify his boss of his tardiness. His phone call is abruptly cut short when a loud boom explodes in his ears, along with a high pitched screech. Confusion strikes him until the car begins to wobble like it's only seconds away from falling apart. Stomping his foot on the brake, Kareem pulls over on the side of the road to examine the car.

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