“Where have you been?” His voice is a whip, is a crushing, but under the anger a fear that takes my breath away. Who am I, that I should know this?
A week ago, I would have said: “Out,” made reference to the bottles beside his chair. Now I say nothing, every word feeling like it’s too much.
“Kate Emilia –,” he begins into my silence.
“Dad. Don’t. I can take care of myself. You don’t have to be scared for me every time I’m out late.”
He rocks back a step, eyes narrowing. “That’s what you think this is about?”
He doesn’t know. I almost laugh, choke it back. “Underneath, yes.” I don’t say I’m not mom, that I’m not going to leave. I reach for my own anger, can’t find it. I know him too deeply, hearing what he is saying and the words under that.
You can’t hate someone who loves you. Not when you know what drives them.
“I don’t want this.” The words slip out. “I haven’t –. It’s not –.” The magician said I wouldn’t have magic, not unless I found his name, not unless I spoke it. But this seeing, this knowing, this peeling back: this I seem to have no matter what. I’ve been marked and I don’t know how to undo it. It’s too much I don’t have words for, not ones that wouldn’t hurt or confuse.
“Kate?” The anger is gone, Dad fear-cold sober. “What is it? Drugs? Boys? Girls?”
“Nothing. Nothing like that. I promise.”
He stares at me for a moment that stretches almost to breaking, then: “There is pizza in the fridge.”
I nod, head into the kitchen. He’s trusting me, and somehow it’s that which threatens tears. I take a deep breath, another, a third. I don’t cry. I don’t cry. I don’t cry.