“MOM, HOW DID you meet Dad?”
It all started with a simple question, and I was not surprised my daughter asked it. Her entire life was composed of queries, some of which I could answer and others too complicated for Aristotle to explain. She was a Sagittarius, naturally curious; I, a mere Aries, was more of the accepting type. If someone asked me a question, I usually had to think long before answering.
This question was no exception.
Her eyes glinted in the falling light of the sun. “Mom, did you hear me? How’d you meet Dad?”
I suppose this question was bound to happen sometime. Most children know how their parents met, like the typical places such as college, or a sports bar in Midtown, or church. Yet how could I answer my little girl, someone who thought so highly of her father? How could I tell her the truth?
“Well, Evangeline, that is complicated.”
Evangeline frowned. When she frowns, it’s as if the sun is dropped in a bucket of gray paint. “You always say that.”
“Yes, I know, that is true. Then I uncomplicate things, don’t you think? Well, why do you want to know?” I could try to stall time, but there was no way around this. I would have to answer, and because of my personality, I would have to answer honestly. Sometimes I wish I could lie with impunity.
My daughter pulled out a notebook. I recognized it as her little journal, something she used for doodling and writing, and sometimes homework. I had bought it for her on her tenth birthday, wrapped it in silver paper, and placed a teal bow on top. She loved it so much she ran up and kissed me straight on the tip of my nose, something that was becoming increasingly less prevalent now that she was almost a teenager. Her father too had appreciated the gift, and all thoughts of his brand-new purple bicycle for her had gone out the window—at least for the moment.
I’d thought she would forget the notebook, but she never did. She took it with her to school, although I cautioned her against it, but she assured me she’d keep it safe, and she did. She wrote in it so much the entire thing was almost full, and unbeknownst to her, I had a new one stashed in the pantry, ready to gift to her at the appropriate time. In a world so full of technology and gadgets, Evangeline was an outsider.
I blew a piece of hair from my face. “Well, are you going to tell me why you want to know? Now, all of a sudden?”
“It’s for a class project.”
“Oh, really.” As I stuffed a piece of chocolate into my gullet, I considered this project. This might ruffle some feathers, including mine.
“Yes. We’re supposed to write a little article about it.”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” I said, sitting on a stool across from her. She cocked her head at me, such innocence.
“Fine. I’ll tell you, but honey, some of what I say is only for you to know. Not everyone gets to know this. I may not even tell you the whole story.”
“But… Mom. I’m twelve now. I’m perfectly responsible.” In this moment, she looked somewhat adultish.
I shook my head. “Sweetie, this is going to hurt me to tell you, okay? Plus, we’ve never told you the story. You deserve to know.”
“Exactly. Why haven’t you told me?”
“Why didn’t you ask before?”