Mending to Love
Turning off the stove, I picked up the pan to place it somewhere else to cool down, all the while, glaring at the man who sat by the kitchen island, staring at me.
Like the situation with Amelia, he was, somehow, able to convince me to talk to my father. I didn’t know how he did it but he still did it.
Though, fortunately for me, he wasn’t able to convince me to visit him at my childhood home. There was no way I would come face-to-face with my father’s ‘loving family’.
So, according to his next suggestion, I called my father, letting him know that I wanted to talk to him. I told him that there was a lot left unsaid between us and that I wanted for these blurred lines clarified.
He was surprised since I avoided talking to him until absolutely necessary and even when I did, I never brought up the past. But, he still agreed to meet me and so, I invited him to my apartment for dinner.
So, here I was, cooking a presentable dinner and waiting for his arrival, anxiously. Pierce thought that he shouldn’t be present as our conversation would be quite personal but I shut his protests with a glare.
He crossed that personal boundary a long time ago and after all, he was the one who convinced me to do this. Like hell was I going to let him relax while I had to suffer.
The doorbell rang and I felt a bundle of nerves buzz within me. The dread I felt couldn’t be challenged. I felt the familiar emotion of just forgetting everything and running away.
I didn’t want to do this. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing his face after all these years.
I haven’t had a direct conversation with him since I left my home and I haven’t seen his face since my college graduation.
With a deep breath, I willed myself to walk to the door and opened it. And there he stood, tall and proud with no smile on his face. Black eyes met my hazel ones.
He wore a gray shirt and black dress pants. His hair was the same shade of brown as mine except for the few gray streaks. He looked almost exactly the same as the last time I met him.
I cleared my throat. “Come in” I invited him, stepping away from the door. He stepped inside and started looking around. I waited as he examined the place I called my home.
“Nice apartment” he commented, “You must be doing very well.”
I smiled. “I am.”
I led him to the living where Pierce stood, probably waiting for us.
I stepped back and look at the man I called my father. He stood opposite to Pierce, studying him, his gaze somehow hardening.
“Who is this?” my father asked before I could introduce them.
“He is a friend of mine. Pierce, my father” I introduced them.
On the mention of his name, Pierce pushed forward his hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr.Vione,” Pierce said politely, and I suppressed a smile. Unsurprisingly, Pierce behaved like a true gentleman. It wasn’t anything new.
My father shook his hand with a nod but he said no words. Then he turned to me. “I thought you said that we are going to have a private conversation.”
I nodded. “Yes, we are. Pierce is going to join us for dinner. He won’t be there when we talk.”
He hummed, implying that he understood. No one said a word after that.
So, after a minute of awkward silence, I decided to just get it over with. “So, let’s just have dinner. We can continue with our conversation after that.”
My suggestion compelled us to walk to the kitchen and start with dinner. With an unintended rush and a wave of weary silence, we had our meals.
Once we finished, I got up to put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Suddenly, Pierce placed his hand on my arms. “I will take care of it. Go and talk to him” he uttered quietly.
I studied his face before nodding. He squeezed my hand with a reassuring smile. I gave him a shaky one of my own in return. Then he started collecting the dishes and carrying them to the kitchen.
I looked at my father who was staring at me. The expression on his face told me that the little exchange between us didn’t go unnoticed by him.
Ignoring it, I said, “Let’s talk in the living room if it’s okay with you,” staring intently for his answer. He nodded and got up.
I led him back to my living room. We sat on the single sofa, facing each other. The coffee table in between provided the needed space.
For a while, none of us knew what to say. The silence stretched between us like a rubber band and the air grew thicker with tension.
“Does that man live with you?” my father asked suddenly. I was taken aback by his question but gained my composure just as quickly.
“No, Pierce doesn’t live with me” I replied.
“Then, what is he to you?” he pried.
I licked my lips. “I told you. He is a friend” it didn’t sound completely honest, even to my ears.
Still, he nodded unsurely and I sighed. I couldn’t delay the conversation any longer.
So, with a shaky breath, I asked one of the many questions haunting me till now, “What did you see in her?”
He looked directly into my eyes before looking away. “I can’t explain that. You will understand one day.”
I smiled, a bitter taste in my mouth. Memories of a girl younger than me replaced the picture of her mother in my head. The girl I never talked to but saw in every place I didn’t want to. “Was I such a bad daughter? Where did I lack and she didn’t?”
I asked that to myself so many times only to come up with blank spaces. I couldn’t understand why I was abandoned by my own father while she was accepted by someone else’s.
He sighed. “I never valued Mae more than you, Ivy.”
I laughed, the bitterness inside me seeping into my words. “I don’t want to hear lies, dad. I’ve been left unanswered and unnoticed for too long, don’t you think? I deserve an honest answer now.”
He looked at me, face hardening. “What do you want me to say, Ivy?”
“The truth. Even if it’s harsh, I want you to say it. Maybe hearing it would be the closure I seek.”
He frowned. “You are my daughter. I love you, Ivy. No matter what you think, I do. And nothing can change that fac.”
I smiled sarcastically. “That’s why you didn’t even try once to stop me when I left ‘my home’, vowing to never return.”
“I thought it was for the best. Look where you are now. you have a successful career, you are financially stable and in a better state than you had ever been” he said, his voice rising.
“I would have gone to college even if you told me to not leave my home. The only difference would have been that I would return to my home for Christmas like my roommates” I stated, not understanding his reasoning.
His tone was unsure. It was like he himself was trying to find reasons as to why he didn’t stop me that fateful day.
He closed his eyes. “I made a mistake, Ivy.”
“And you still haven’t apologized. You married that woman even when I voiced my disapproval. You brought her to our home even if it caused me to walk out forever. You chose them over me, your own daughter.”
“I won’t apologize for marrying Mae’s mother, Ivy. She is the best thing that happened to me. And Mae is like my daughter now. I won’t apologize for bringing them into my life.”
“So ‘they’ are more valuable to you than me. Don’t worry, I knew that. I just wanted you to admit it in front of me” I stated, my eyes stinging. I had already accepted it but that didn’t make it any less painful for me to hear him admit it in front of my face.
He groaned in frustration. “No, Ivy. You all hold an equal space in my heart. I would never choose them over you.”
I closed my eyes, a pain-filled smile playing on my lips. “You already did.”
He stood up and moved to the loveseat closer to my sofa. “No, Ivy, I didn’t.”
I shook my head. “Don’t lie to me” I looked at him, the tears I tried to stop forcefully dripping down but my eyes remained cold, “Tell me, did ever care for me? You were never there when I needed you but you still found time to be the supporting pillar whenever your second daughter wished for you to be.”
I brushed my hear away from my face, scoffing. “Did you even have an idea of what I was going through?”
He looked down, a sad smile making its way up to his face. “I did, Ivy, I did. I just didn’t know how to handle it. I married your mother because I loved her. Imagine what I felt when she left. But, I saw that you suffered more than me. I know how much she meant to you. But, I was just too focused on my grief and I didn’t know how to take care of you.”
I looked away. “You just needed to be there.”
“Maybe but at that time I didn’t know that,” he told me.
A poisonous smile pulled at my lips at his words. “Funny how you learned all that when Mae came around.”
He shook his head. “No, Ivy I didn’t learn all that when Mae came around. But, Mae’s mother was around. She helped me.”
I gritted my teeth to stop the sob from escaping my throat. It was painful to grow up without the support of a father. But, it was excruciating to see your carless father being so careful someone who wasn’t even his own child. I was jealous.
I felt abandoned.
His hand moved to my shoulder, trying to provide comfort. I clenched my jaw harder, the flow of the tears growing. The comfort he tried providing was hurting me. Funny how I sought for his comfort so desperately for this long and now when I had, it was causing me pain.
Maybe because I’ve gotten used to being the side he found easier to ignore. Maybe because I’ve accepted that I was never going to be what Mae was to him. Maybe… maybe, I didn’t know.
“I never intended to make you feel unwanted. What happened was a misunderstanding. I never wanted to make you feel like I was throwing you out. Like I loved you any less than them. I am sorry, Ivy” his voice broke at the last word.
His words meant something to me.
It made me feel better to know that I wasn’t someone he would willingly hurt. That he felt as lost as me and that we ended up here not because he didn’t want me but because of misunderstandings, unsorted emotions, helplessness, and mistakes.
But, it didn’t change my feelings towards him. I still felt hurt by him and disappointed that he could just turn a blind eye towards me because he didn’t know how to deal with me.
Maybe I felt like this I thought he was as strong as he portrayed to be. Maybe because I expected more from him. Or maybe, I just needed a little more time.
But, I understood that this was as far as I could get with him.
So, I wiped my tears and removed the hard mask that covered up the things going through my head. I needed him to see how I felt. I needed him to understand.
Then turning around to face him, I said “I understand you, dad. I really do but that doesn’t undo what I went through, how I felt. I might be grown up now but I was a child then. I needed a guardian. I needed someone to have my back, to show me the way. I understand you but I also understand how much I suffered. So, I acknowledge your apology but I am sorry. Forgiveness isn’t just a simple concept for me. And it is not possible for me to forgive you. At least, not yet.”
He sighed, managing a forced smile. “I-I understand.”
I smiled too, one as forced as him. “At least, we are at a better level of understanding.”
He laughed. “True. Does that mean you are going to come and visit now?”
My smile dropped. “No. I am not ready to face your new family yet.”
He nodded, already knowing my answer. “Okay. But, I wish one day you will be. They aren’t as bad as you think. Both of them would love to finally meet you.”
I barked out a laugh. “Well, then they are better human beings than me because I don’t think I would feel the same. But, who knows? Maybe, one day.”
He nodded again but didn’t say anything. After a while of silence, he stood up.
“I should go now. It’s getting late” he informed and I stood.
“I will accompany you to the door” I murmured and we both started walking towards the door.
As we passed the kitchen, our eyes fell on Pierce who was sitting by the island, eating cake. He had a sweet tooth.
Sensing our presence, he looked up. Seeing us standing, he placed his spoon down and he stood up, walking towards us.
Managing a polite smile, he looked at my father. “ Are you leaving, Mr.Vione? Please, at least, enjoy a piece of cake. Ivy made it this afternoon and I have to say, it is a masterpiece.”
I felt a bubbling sensation of pride inside me and pursed my lips to stop a smile. He thought every kind of food was a masterpiece, so his comment wasn’t something to think too much about.
My father smiled, little more warmly. “No, not today as it’s quite late. But I would be sure to stop by another day.”
The sense of surprise hit me hard and I looked at my father to find any sign of dishonesty. He looked like he was being honest. I didn’t try to suppress the smile his words brought me.
I would hold on to those words.
Pierce nodded. “Well then, let me walk you to your car.”
My father nodded in agreement. “Of course. Let’s go then.”
I sighed when they left.
Our relationship would never be the way I wanted it to be because it was too late for that. But, I would have a bond with him and that was better than nothing.
Maybe, I would never get the chance of having a father that Mae had but at least I would have one.
And, for now, that was enough.