I spy my father through the glass French doors, with his back to me, leaning against one of the green chairs in front of his desk. I take a deep breath and push on the handle. “Dad, can we talk?” The word ‘dad’ feels funny to say. I haven’t called him it in years. The use of the word is strategic on my part, starting the conversation with a reminder of who he is to me.
Something I think he often forgot.
He hasn’t been any sort of father to me in years.
He isn’t a dad at all.
He spins around when he hears me come in, revealing that he isn’t alone. Tanner is sitting in one of the big green chairs in front of my father’s desk, smiling a little too brightly for my liking. Something is up. “What’s going on?” I ask, taking tentative steps further into the room.
The senator speaks first, “Tanner told me your news,” he says, straightening his jacket, yanking at the bottom hem. He looks down to where my hands rest against my rounded belly. He looks disturbed, as if someone has just told him his numbers are down in the polls, not that his fifteen-year-old daughter is pregnant.
“He did?” I was going to kill him.
“Yes,” he says, rounding his desk and taking a seat in his high-backed burgundy chair, more throne than office chair. His lips set in a straight line. “And as much as I don’t want to, I’m going to have to bring someone else in on this.”
Who could he be bringing in? Oh. Shit.
I hadn’t even really thought about telling her. To me, my mother was a non-issue. I rarely saw her and when I did it was at a function where she pretended to be the PTA-type mom, then when the lights went out in the ballroom, the switch on being ‘mom’ was turned off and she’d go back to ignoring me like always.
I don’t even hear my parents speak to one another unless they are bickering about something. And it’s always something to do with my father’s campaign. They stopped arguing about their relationship years ago.
It’s hard to argue over something you don’t care about.
“Okay,” I say meekly, preparing myself for the shit storm I am about to receive. And although I am shrinking into the seat next to Tanner I’m oddly looking forward to what is about to take place. I wring my hands. Tanner doesn’t seem affected. He sits casually with his ankle crossed over his knee.
My father stands up, looking impatient. “I will back in a moment,” he announces, and leaves the room.
I snap my head to Tanner. “What exactly did you tell him?” I whisper.
He whispers back. “The truth.”
I punch him in the shoulder. “Why the hell did you do that? I was going to tell him. That’s what we’d agreed!”
“Yeah, but I thought about it and I decided that it was better if it came from me because he can’t get pissed at me.”
“That wasn’t your decision to make, Tanner. You can’t just decide all the rules all the time on your own, you know.” I cross my arms over my chest. “And why can’t he get mad at you?”
“He can get mad, he just can’t kick my ass or anything. Because if he does he knows that all it would take would be me telling my dad how mean the good senator was to me. And just like that his number one campaign supporter would bring the money train to a screeching halt,” Tanner says proudly. He winks at me.
He’s got a point.
I’m still pissed though. “I’m glad you’re sitting over there all smug and cocky while I’m literally shaking in my boots,” I say.
My father comes back into the room, his cell phone in his hand. He takes his seat and sets down his phone on the desk.
Maybe his plan was to call my mother? I knew she wasn’t home, but had no idea where she disappeared to this time. I can just imagine what she has to say about this.
Her questions to me are always about what I’ve gotten myself into or contain some other snide remark suggesting I am anything other than the perfect obedient daughter that I am.
“Ramie Elizabeth…” The senator starts. That’s what he always calls me when I haven’t lived up to his impossible standards. Then he adds an accusatory third-person statement to the end of it.
Ramie Elizabeth decided to quit piano without telling me.
Ramie Elizabeth seems to think her little drawings are more important than a real education at a real school.
Ramie Elizabeth has been hanging around with that horrible Nicole Arnold girl again.
In an odd way I am really happy to be able to give him something to worthy of his disappointment. Everything else has been a mild annoyance. A fire drill leading to this very moment. He will be able to put his making-me-feel-like-a-failure skills to good use today.