Chapter 8: Daddy Issues
I tried to talk to Veronica more about the problems at home but she closed up on me. For the following week, she refused to acknowledged the topic and would change the subject as soon as I broached it. One morning before school, we agreed to meet at the track for a jog and I was intent on getting her to talk about it. Or at least acknowledge it.
"Have you talked to them yet?" I asked, venturing into the familiar yet forbidden topic.
"Who?" Veronica asked feigning confusion.
"Your parents." I replied looking straight ahead as I jogged.
"I have nothing I need to talk to them about." Veronica said trying to shut down the subject once again. Before I could respond she stopped jogging and walked over to one of the tables between the track and the pond. "Have you talked to your dad yet?" she asked sitting down.
I sat beside her. "I talk to my dad every day V. What specifically?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes at me and looked toward the sun as it rose. We'd need to get showered and changed soon for school. "Erik of course. Did he say anything after you got back from your date with him? Is he going to try to get to know him or does he still disapprove?"
I shrugged. "He hasn't brought it up again." I paused and looked away from her. "He still has that look though."
"Looks like I'm not the only one who should but isn't talking to the parentals." Veronica said standing. "We better go or we'll both be late for school."
Once again she's avoided the topic and slipped away from me. After school, Erik came home with me so we could study for a history test together. At least that's what we were supposed to be doing. I couldn't help but dwell on Veronica. I wanted to help her but if she didn't open up about it again I wouldn't know how. I tried to explain this to Erik without actually giving away any of the details. "How do I get her to talk?" I wondered aloud, I didn't expect nor need an answer from Erik and he didn't venture one. I flipped the page in my history book without realizing I hadn't actually read the page before.
"Gin." Erik said with a small smile on his face. He tapped my open history book.
"Hmm? Oh right. History." I said turning the page again, clearly distracted.
"Do you even know what was on that page?" Erik asked with a chuckle.
I looked down at the book and blushed. I turned back a few pages to the last page I actually remembered reading. Erik took the book from my lap and put it on the table. "If you're going to be distracted..." he said as he leaned closer.
"History.." I mumbled as his lips met mine. When the kiss broke briefly I just shrugged. "Will wait." I said putting my arms around his neck and pulling him into another kiss.
History was forgotten and we were lip-locked until I heard the clearing of a throat behind us.
I knew it was my dad without looking and Erik and I quickly separated to opposite ends of the couch as he approached. I had to bite my lip to keep from giggling.
At first my dad seemed calm and okay about it as he approached us. I could see the struggle on his face though. He didn't want to upset me but he still had some issue with Erik that I couldn't entirely understand. "Erik, I think you need to leave." he said sternly. "Now" he said raising his voice an octave.
Erik got up from the couch before I could and while he was irritated by my dad, he kept his mouth shut and said nothing. "Daddy!" I exclaimed from the couch. Disapproval was one thing, but he was crossing into just plain rude.
I did not have the control Erik had and jumped to my feet. A half dozen things ran through my head to say to him. "Why should he Daddy?" I asked a little loudly and angrily. Meanwhile was packing up his school stuff and preparing to leave.
"Gin, I think he's right." he said looking toward my dad. "I think you two need to talk. I'll see you at school." Erik said. I glared at my dad a moment longer and then gave Erik a lingering hug.
After Erik left I turned my back on my dad only to see him again in front of me, this time a photograph. "Ginny." he said quietly when I stopped in my tracks, staring at the wedding picture of him and my mom.
After I didn't reply he got closer and put a hand on my shoulder. "Ginny..."
I whirled around and glared at him. "What?" I asked when he didn't say anything.
"I'm worried about you." he said.
"Why? I haven't gotten detention since the first day. I'm doing fine in my classes. I'm happy and I even had Veronica over for a sleep over so I clearly have not abandoned my friends. What, exactly, have I done to make you worry about me?" I asked.
He didn't reply for several moments. "I just don't like him." he said.
"Why not?" I asked annoyed.
"I don't know, he's wrong for you...." he said sighing.
"No Daddy, he's very right for me." I said looking away.
He didn't say anything. I thought he was thinking but when I turned to look at him, he was walking away. "Oh no! You have to give me a reason. You can't just throw him out and tell me you don't like him without something more substantial." I said following him to his office.
He sat down at his computer and pulled up obvious work documents, trying to ignore me. "Daddy!" I said after a few minutes of being ignored. "I won't do this! Talk to me!" I asked, pleaded with him.
He stopped typing but still didn't look at me. "Daddy. Please talk to me, we always talk..." I said trailing off. He didn't reply but I saw a slight change in him. "We were supposed to movie night tonight Daddy - you're not going to stay in here working are you?" I asked trying to prod him.
"I have a lot of work to do Ginny, we'll do it another night." he said sadly. Returning his gaze to the computer I felt dismissed.
I looked at him a moment longer and then as I turned to leave my eyes fell on the picture on his desk. It was the last family picture we'd taken before Mom died. I picked it up and ran a finger along her face sadly. "Daddy," I said still looking at the picture, "You haven't missed movie night in eight years." I said softly. I placed the picture back on the desk and left his office; wiping a tear from my face. I walked outside thinking about my mom and how much I'd like to talk to her now.
Lost in my own thoughts, I found myself at the seldom used playground still in our backyard. I sat on the squeaky swing and resisted the urge to cry. I don't know how long I sat there before I heard his approach on the pebbles but I didn't look up.
"You did." he said quietly. He stood a few feet away watching me.
I was confused for a minute and then everything suddenly made sense to me. "You're not worried about me giving up my friends or doing bad in school really." I said as the clarity got stronger. "You're worried about me giving up you." I said looking at him for the first time with new understanding. "Oh Daddy..." I said starting to stand but he he held out a hand to stop me. He came over and pulled the swing back to push me. It squeaked loudly in protest but he persisted.
The swing's protests got louder with each push so the moment didn't last long. I stopped the swing and smiled at my dad. "It's been just you and me for eight years kiddo" he said still looking sad. "It's a little hard for me to share you like this." he said giving me a half smile.
"I'm sorry." I said simply. There were suddenly so many moments over the summer and last few weeks I realized I had favored others over time with my Dad. "You're always first Daddy" I said getting up and giving him a hug.