Fly on the Wall: Isabel

By: Adam Sutton

It’s 2am. 

My wife looks gorgeous on a sunny beach.  I think it’s the Bahamas, but I’m not worrying about the specifics.  Those aren’t important for this story.  She’s a couple pounds heavier, a little grayer and a whole lot saltier than when we met 25 years ago, but she still turns me on.  Something about growing the 2 most beautiful creatures on the face of the planet more than makes up for the changes in her physical appearance.  We’ve had a few beverages with the umbrellas in them.  The few inhibitions I have disappeared 2 drinks ago.  My wife’s seem to be leaving quickly too.  I like—


That’s an ugly sound for such a pretty lady on such a pretty beach. It must be—


What the?  No. NO. NO!  There are no kids at this resort.  None.  Strictly prohibited. 

“I’m siiiiick.”  It’s Isabel. 

I’m up.  I’m not happy.  It’s a lot darker in this house at 2am than the beach in the Bahamas. 

“Hey, kiddo,” I announce as I push open the door to reveal my daughter huddled around the toilet.

“I called for mom.”

“Yeah, I was calling for her too.  We don’t always get what we want.  Can I get you a drink of water?”

“UFght,” came the reply, which seemed like a yes.  I head for the kitchen. 

Kneeling next to Isabel, I pull her long blonde hair from her face.  “Here.  Rinse your mouth out.  I’m sorry.  Being sick is no fun.”  She takes the small cup and rinses her mouth then drinks a few sips.  “Looks like somebody gets a day off from school tomorrow, though,” I whisper, trying to boost her spirits. 

“That’s not possible.  I’ve got a presentation tomorrow.”

“Mr. Wiggins, this question about the Founding Fathers and how radical they were is really tough,” Isabel said, almost begging.

“Tough in the sense that there is no simple answer.  Yes, I suppose it is tough,” Mr. Wiggins smiled back offering very little support or direction.

“Come on!  I’m dying here!  I know all the documents, inside and out!”

“I know that too,” Mr. Wiggins deadpanned. 

“Like, am I supposed to answer this like a person living today?  I mean they were sexist, racist bigots who probably hated gay people.  Right?  Total losers.  Or, should I think like some 18th century commoner?  These guys decide to overthrow the strongest, most secure and stable government existing in the entire world.  Pretty ballsy.  Totally radical.  Out of their mind radical,” Isabel said, looking as if she could crumple to the ground in tears. 

“Yup.  It’s pretty clear you understand what’s going on here.”

“Mr. Wiggins!”

Isabel looks like a racoon.  Her eyes are shrouded with dark shadows.  Her hair is tied back but still it’s everywhere.  She looks haggard.  If she weren’t in 9th grade, I’d think she’d spent the night on the town pounding cheap beer.  But, she’s got nice slacks and an incredibly professional blouse on.  She’s carrying heels.  I think they’re her mother’s.  At the risk of offending my own daughter, it’s the epitome of lipstick on a pig right now.

“What are you doing?” I ask. 

“School,” she growls. 

“Uhhh.  You look very nice.  That blouse is beautiful.  I’m sure those shoes will make you look professional beyond your years.” I’m impressed by this kid’s tenacity.  We’ve encouraged her to be tough, and I’m proud that whatever she is committed to right now, in this moment, is pushing her to this.  I don’t want to challenge her toughness right now, so I continue cautiously, “But, ummm, you look like someone who spent the last 10 hours hugging the porcelain.  Perhaps, staying home would be the better part of valor here?”

“I have spent 3 weeks studying, writing, revising, editing, writing, researching and revising some more for this presentation in Mr. Wiggins’ class.  It has taken years off my life.  I will not miss it.  Get in the car,” she orders.


“You will take this presentation from my cold dead hands.  Get.  In.  The.  Car.”

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