Not Even Close

You’ve got to be kidding me. 

But he’s not. Not even close.

I’m sitting at home when he tells me. I’m sprawled out on the couch in the middle of the day, watching Full House reruns and shoveling leftover macaroni into my mouth when the phone rings. I fumble around the couch cushions and come up with it on the third ring.

            “Hello?” I’m croaking into the receiver. I must sound hung over.

            “Taylor?” He’s confused. 

            “Uh, yeah, it’s me. Hi.”

            “Oh, I didn’t quite recognize your voice at first.”

Does he really think I’m buying that?

            “Well, you know…” I pause. “It’s not like we’ve seen each other that much lately.”

            “Yeah, about that…” 

What about it?

            “…I was wondering if I could maybe come over to your place some time today.” 

I’m sitting up now. Eyes wide open. Macaroni all over the couch cushions. 

            “You, uh…today? You want to come over here today?”

Of course. The day I look like I was run over by a garbage truck and dragged for 18 blocks. I have to push hair out of my face just to talk into the receiver.

            "Well, I…yeah, sure. I, I…guess that would be okay."

Could I sound more reluctant?

            “Okay, great. I’ll, uh…I’ll pick up some pizza and head over to your place around 6.” 

I know I’m not seeing the clock right. I blink. Twice.

            “So, I’ll see you later then?” 

What is this, an ambush?

            “Uh, yeah, okay. Later.” 

I’m already on my feet tossing the phone onto the charger and booking it to the bathroom. I’ve got one hour to turn myself into a human again.

My hair is still in a towel at 5:45 as I frantically shove dishes under the soapy water in my sink. Out of sight, out of mind, right? 

I’m picking Cheerios up off the floor when the doorbell rings. I go to the door in boxer shorts, an old T-shirt, and no makeup. 

Boy, am I a sight to make eyes sore. 

            “Hi.” I’m smiling awkwardly as I push the door open wide and step aside.

            “Hey. I brought extra cheese, just the way you like it.” 

I ask myself why I’m doing this as I gesture towards the couch and then towards the kitchen. 

            “Beer? Water? Milk?” I never know with him.

            “Water is good.” 

He’s on his second slice by the time I reach the couch. My People magazine is spread across the coffee table, today’s daily scandal unrecognizable through a layer of cheese and tomato sauce. Classy.

It takes ten minutes of quiet munching noises to get him to talk to me.

            “So, Tay…” 

He’s calling me Tay now? I must have missed that memo.

            “I just wanted to tell you that I’m proud of you.” 

Proud of me? Of what, exactly? My ability to order take out or the unbelievable skills I’ve acquired in dish washing?

            “Um…thanks…” 

            “No, I really mean it. I never really thought you’d get this far.” 

Well, thanks for the vote of confidence. He paid for this pizza, right? 

            “And I also wanted to tell you…” 

He’s got more to add to this? Forget the water. I’m going to need a beer.

            “I wanted to let you know…”

Come on, spit it out.

I’m expecting something lame. Something tired. The same old lines I’ve heard over and over again for years. 

I’ve got a mouth full of pizza when he totally shocks me.

            “I love you.”

Did I hear that right?

            “I wanted to come here and let you know so many times…” 

I swallow hard. The pizza is rough going down. So is my pride. 

            “But I didn’t know how you would feel…” 

You’ve got to be kidding me. 

But he’s not. Not even close.

He’s standing, so I stand. And I can’t believe that the first time I’m going to say this to him will be over pizza, surrounded by dirty laundry, in my boxer shorts.

            “Wait.”  

Where did that come from? 

The same place as what I say next. 

            “I love you too, Dad.”

The End

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