How to remember a father who’d just been around for her entire life. Someone who’d always been present alongside her mother. Never too busy with work to look over an assignment. Never too tired to go for a walk in the park or take her out for ice-cream or listen to her mother’s rants about colleagues at the university.
paper. And you begin another monotonous day in the new reality.
How to move on from a loss of someone who was so substantial in her life that it was like the loss of an eye or an arm. It was almost a reflex – going out of her room and into the hall, handing him his glasses as she walked by his armchair because he’d always leave it somewhere and forget about it completely. It broke her heart when she did it the first time after he was gone, picking it up from the lamp table and raising it towards the armchair for him to grab.
She nodded. “But how does –”
Her mom had seen Amy do it from the dinner table, and her eyes had welled up with tears that held a grief so crushing, so alien to twelve-and-ahalf-year-old Amy that for some days, along with sadness and guilt, she also felt mortified at the thought of experiencing so much pain. They never figured out what happened to him. Had he been kidnapped? Had he died? No one knew. Nick Fowles had vanished like he’d never been alive. She had had a horrible dream once that her father was only a prospect of her imagination. She had woken up with a start, relieved that he wasn't only to realize that he was gone. During the first few years, waking up was the hardest part of the day because it doesn’t hit you immediately. You groggily shake away the dream you had, you marvel at the strangeness of it but can only focus on a few incoherent snatches because it’s leaving you so fast. You blink open your eyes, you yawn, even stretch and the moment is hazy and detached and utterly devoid of emotion, but then the anxiety and trepidation of the night before spreads in your chest like a blot of ink on yellowed
Amy nervously reapplied her lipstick and stared at Rob through the mirror. “How do I look?” “You look fine Ames, it’s going to be alright,” he assured her patiently for the fifteenth time.
The doorbell rang. She jumped and dropped the lipstick, her hands and feet going numb. “Rob, I can’t, Rob I –” “Amy,” he said calmly. “You’ll be fine. Your father is at the door. Go and greet him in.” On the call, Amy and her dad had decided to have dinner at her place on the very same day. Rob had come home early from his job to help with the preparations, which is to say that he did everything and she just hyperventilated. There couldn’t have been an untimelier moment for her to remember the line from her email, but she did, and it somehow made her restless enough to get her moving towards the apartment door. The man who stood in front of Amy almost startled her. The father from her memory didn’t have silver streaks in his gold-red mob of curls and his glasses weren’t so thickly rimmed. She could see that he had gained some weight, despite the layers of sweaters he wore, and his cheeks had never been quite so flabby. Or was that old age? Because he was old now – lines heavy on his forehead, deep crow’s feet around his eyes and around the smile he was giving her. “Amy,” he said, pushing the bouquet of flowers into her hands. She could see that his eyes were welling up with tears. “It’s lovely... you’ve... grown so much.” For a panicked instant, she wished that she hadn’t opened the door, hadn’t received the call. She wished she was still asleep and all of it was a dream.