He was trying to drive while watching the two of them in the rear view mirror. How quickly did sixteen years fly by? When had she gone from riding in a car seat to sitting with a boy in the back of the car? He struggled to keep his emotions in check; who did this character think he was, asking his daughter to the movies, and then asking for a ride there? He glanced sideways at his wife, laughing silently at his pain. He pulled in front of the cineplex.
"What movie are you going to see?" He was doing his best to be polite.
There was a sort of half hearted mumbling sound from the back. His daughter reluctantly translated for them.
"Satan's Halo. It's supposed to be really scary."
"Have fun guys," his wife called out.
"Not too much," he grumbled under his breath.
"Ugh" was the exasperated reply, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
He sat at the curb and watched them go in, watched as the young kid made an awkward attempt to put his arm around his daughter's shoulders. Pulling the car back into traffic, he turned into the parking lot and shut off the motor. His wife looked at him.
"What are you doing?"
"Let's see a movie. We haven't been in a while. You said you wanted to see Death Abstain From Death."
She looked at him, and gently put her hand on his arm.
"Honey, I know this is difficult, but you can't do this. Let her go."
He stared out the window, then opened the door.
"We won't be at the same movie. We might as well stay,we're just going to have to pick them up later anyway to bring him home."
She sighed and got out of the car, holding his hand the way one holds onto an unruly toddler who might at any minute dash into traffic. They walked into the theater; their daughter was sitting on his lap, talking to a group of friends. A look of horror appeared on her face as she saw them; silently she mouthed "MOOOMMM". He was doing his best not to be the big gorilla, to not go over there and make his presence known. They got some snacks and walked into their theater, leaving her behind.
They found their seats and sat quietly, waiting for the movie to start. His wife rested her head against his shoulder. He sighed and took a sip of his drink.
"I didn't think this would be so hard."
His wife kissed his cheek.
"My mom used to say my father would pace the floor whenever we went out. And we all know what a gentleman you were."
He groaned to himself, and said a small prayer that karma wouldn't strike at him like that.
Halfway through the movie he left his seat and walked out towards the concessions stand, supposedly to get a refill on his drink. He looked around the empty lobby, searching for them. Ok, for her. He started to return to his theater when suddenly she and a girlfriend came giggling and texting out of the restroom. She froze in her tracks, then whispered something to her girlfriend, who continued to giggle and text as she went back to their movie. His daughter came up to him, her mother's mocking smile appearing on her face.
"What are you doing out here, Daddy?"
He held up his drink cup. "Just getting a refill."
"Not trying to spy on me, are you?" God, she was such a little stinker sometimes.
"Nope. Your mother drank all the soda within five minutes of the coming attractions starting. She never leaves me anything except ice."
His daughter looked around, then quickly threw her arms around his waist.
"I love you Daddy."
He hugged her back, trying not to keep her forever in his grasp.
"Love you too, baby."
She broke away and went skipping back into her theater. Old enough to date, but still skipping. He brought a hand up to his eyes and walked back into his movie. His wife looked at him, and once again kissed his cheek.
He took in a deep breath, and returned her kiss.