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  • I am in my local coffee shop waiting on my wife, who is on her way home from work. I open my newspaper. A young woman has died in a car crash. My eyes start to mist up. Suddenly, I am at my kitchen table saying goodbye to the most important people in my life - the people to whom I have devoted years, the people who are my everything, the people whom I have nursed. The tears start running down my cheeks.

    My wife arrives in.

    "What's wrong?" she says, alarmed.

    "You all died in a car crash," I say.

    "Stop! Don't be saying that, or it'll happen!"

    "It has happened," I say, a tear falling to the table.

    "Oh, for Godssake, stop the drama!" she says. "Have you ordered something for me?"

    I know she is trying to pull me back to reality, but I am having none of it. Reality is no match for my imagination, particularly when I love you, I love you, I love you like never before is blasting out on from the radio on the overhead speakers. I get thick with her.

    "I suppose you're going to ask me what I wore at the funeral, just in case I looked ridiculous," I snap, irked.

    "No," she says.

    She falls silent.

    The waitress brings us our coffees and croissants.

    "I suppose you wore your Algerian gandoura that flows all the way down to the ground," she says, all of a sudden.

    "Now who is talking like it has happened?!" I snap. "And, anyway, I didn't wear my gandoura. You gave it away to the Traveller lady at the door last week, remember? Without my permission!"

    "Oh, that's right. I forgot about that," she says, bursting into laughter. I laugh too. I am back in reality now. My heart lightens. Our conversation turns to our children.

    "The little one is really anxious about her first Brownies' class tonight," my wife says. "She's worried about making friends."

    "She'll be okay," I say. "She'll know half the class."

    We return home. We gather around the kitchen table after Brownies/Girl Guides.

    "Well, how was class?" I ask my 8 year-old daughter.

    "It was great. I made loads of friends," she says.

    "You're so like me," I say. "You make friends easily."

    "Yeah, you can say that again!" my 13 year-old says, dismissively. "Sure, you talk to all the drunks of the village."

    I feel the dagger going in. I'm not the perfect father for my perfect daughter.

    "The kiddies' den needs cleaning tonight," I snap at her.

    "You don't tell me what to do!" she says. "I'll do what I want. You don't control me."

    I hold my breath and count to three. My youngest leaps up from the table. She calls me into the den a few minutes later. It's sparkling clean. I'm in awe.

    "I'm a Brownie girl now, daddy. I'm different. Brownie girls do the housework."

    "Pity your sisters didn't go to Brownies!" I say.

    "Shut up, daddy!" my 13 year-old says. My 14-year-old daughter scowls at me.

    "Welcome to the world of teenagers!" my wife says.

    To be honest, sometimes I prefer the world of my imagination.
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