A passage for Father’s Day from Rocket Summer.
Ernie surveyed the field for a moment, then sat next to her and let out a breath. “It’s been a tough couple of years, hasn’t it?”
He picked something off his pants leg as he searched for words. “I don’t like how things are, Lacey. I want you to know that. I just don’t know how we got here, is all.” He turned to her, laid a hand on her knee. “Your mama, she was the one who rounded the corners, made things safe. She handled the hard parts… the fevers, the skinned knees, the nightmares. My job was to lay down the rules. With her gone… I’m sorry, I didn’t know how to make your hurt my priority.”
She looked at the hand on her knee. At the ring, still shining through the grime on his third finger. They’d never talked this long, not about anything that mattered. The hand and the voice were her father’s, but the words were a conversation with a stranger, and as her brain strove to reconcile the two she said something just to fill the awkward silence.
His answer seemed to come from far away. “No it’s not. I was mad as could be at your mama for dying, strange as that might sound to you, and I couldn’t see past that. Couldn’t see you. And I looked in the wrong place to find peace.”
Berta’s place. Steve the bartender. That dusty bottle just sitting there like a test.
Ernie studied his callouses. “Then I found my work again, and I know that’s been keeping me wrapped up, and I know you don’t think much of it, but you got to understand, this saved me.” He nodded toward the mountains, took in the expanse of the countryside with a deep breath. “Look at my office. Things that look big close up, well, they get small out here. You find your right place, find your view of the horizon, things gain perspective.” He scraped at his blackened fingerprint with a thumbnail. “I don’t want to be your enemy, Lacey. You need time to find your place. I can see that. You just know you can come to me, okay?”
She watched him working his hands. Those giant rough hands that once upon a time had carved delicate slices from an apple with a pocket knife, and offered them to her right off the blade.
It had been a long time since their last apple. She still tasted that sweet metallic tang.
She put her hand on his. Her smile was genuine. “Okay.”
#Fathersday #YAlit #MGlit