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Separate Well or Separation Hell – Peter Nowosielski & Eric De Bruyn
The Equal Parent Presumption – Edward Kruk
Parents Acting Badly – Jennifer Jill Harman PhD & Zeynep Biringen PhD
An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation - CA Childress PsyD
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Every Second Sunday Night - Nigel Rae

It's Sunday night and I'm at that point now. That point where I get right down to it. It always happens about this time – six or seven beers, a joint or two, Cold Chisel or Pearl Jam on the CD player. That's when I look at the truth of it, no matter how much it rips my guts apart. I take it out and turn it over, look at it from every angle – hers, mine, the kids'. I gnaw on it like a dog with a bone. And the same answer comes up every time; a job, a pay-check. She threw me out because the company downsized. I've been over it and over it and I can't find anything else. I was just a fucking income. We weren't the perfect couple by any standard, but the same problems were there when I was working as when I wasn't. The difference was the money. Twelve years, a house and two kids; a life snatched away because of a job. Or, more to the point, the lack of one.

To take my mind off it I think of Benny. The way he looks at me when he's here, like I'm his hero or something. I see it. He follows me around every second weekend like the proverbial puppy. Whatever I do he does, whatever I say he says. His moods are my moods and that worries me. I'm in a bad mood most of the time, and I know it can't be good for a four-year-old to be constantly unhappy. I try as much as I can to do all the things we used to do. Go down to the park and kick the footy around, wrestle with each other all over the house, give him little jobs to make him feel important. But it's not the same and we both know it.

I crack another beer and take a long pull on it. I look around my grimy little flat and each piece of furniture tells me a story. The coffee table has that big scratch across it where we dropped it moving house years ago. For a year or so Christie put a tablecloth over it and we used it the same as always. Eventually though, it ended up in the shed with all the other clapped out odds and end that she found too tacky for the house, but too sentimental for the dump. The extraordinarily uncomfortable futon we stupidly bought now takes pride of place in my lounge/dining/kitchen area. The ottoman that I used to teasingly call a 'poof' now sits forlorn and useless in the middle of the room. My old stereo – so ancient I've had to rig a car CD player to it – sits on the kitchen table and reminds me of good times, back when I first left my parents house and lived with mates. Back when Christie and me were just “seeing” each other. It seems now that all this furniture slowly found its way into the shed for a purpose. Over the years we collected almost enough crap to fill another place, my place.

My eyes fall on the picture of Jade, taken around a year ago when she still had a bit of that little girl look about her. My Jade. She used to be so sweet to me that I worried she might turn out being used by some dickhead as an easy ride for her whole life. But since the split she's changed. She's still sweet and I know she loves me to bits, but sometimes I'll look at her and see her mother there before me. It happens when I've done something stupid – dropped a plate or burped loudly or something. She'll throw her hip out slightly, her head back, pout her lips and close her eyes a little. “Daaaad!” she'll say. Sometimes I almost say she shouldn't be a stuck-up bitch like her mother, but I stop myself in time. Once when I went to their place, – my place? – to pick them up, I overheard Christie calling me a no-hoper. My daughter flew to my defence like a pit bull. The words she sprayed at her mother made me cringe and smile at the same time.

I finish off my beer and go to get another but the fridge is empty. I look over to the flagon of muscat on the sink and realise I'll be crook in the morning. After pouring a glass of the vile stuff I take the bottle, go out into the corridor and head outside. I think about knocking on Brad's door to see if he's up for a few drinks, but I remember his kids don't go home till the morning. Brad's been here two years now and he tells me he's slowing getting it together and it seems that he is. He's got a full time job and says he doesn't drink everyday like he did when he first moved here. Sometimes late at night when I walk past his door I think I hear one of his kids crying in there, though I don't know if they come over through the week.

It's a beautiful night and a clear sky shows all the stars, like little tiny promises everywhere I look. I sit on the ground and Dopey, the resident mutt, comes over and puts his head in my lap. I think about looking for work in the morning. A fresh pang of sadness hits me momentarily. I chase it away with the knowledge that it's only twelve days till they come back. I sit and drink until I feel myself going over the edge, into sweet alcoholic nirvana.

Nigel Rae