I’m watching Netflix on my laptop, when Pa comes downstairs.
“I’m really sorry,” he says, patting me on the shoulder. “I’ll pay for your therapy if you need it.”
He smiles. It doesn’t reach his eyes, but he’s actually looking at me – instead of through me – for once.
“I’m going to be okay,” he tells me, “I’m definitely not okay right now. But I will be. Thank you. For today.”
“I sprayed you with a water bottle,” I say. “And I said it was gross when you kissed each other, but I’m sorry and I didn’t really mean… I didn’t really want you to stop…”
“It’s not you. Nothing you did had any impact here. Apart from all the good things where you’re you, and you’re wonderful, and have coped with way more than you should have had to. Okay?”
“Okay,” I say. I didn’t really think that that had been why. But I needed to hear it.
“Something bad happened to me,” says Pa.
“I know,” I say. “You don’t have to tell me about it.”
“I think do.”
So he tells me. Not all the details or anything. But enough. Enough for him to feel… to know that I’m safe. That I’d know what to do, if anyone ever tried to do something like that to me.
“I was younger than you are now,” he says.
“She groomed you,” I say.
“Yeah. I guess I didn’t realise that.”
“I think that’s sort of part of the point of the whole grooming thing.”
“Yeah. I guess it is.”
“You weren’t very much older than me when I was born.”
“That’s true. When I was your age Cello was already very pregnant.”
“I don’t think I’m old enough to have a baby.”
“I wasn’t old enough to have a baby.”
“I don’t even feel like I’m ready to have sex. Everyone else is. I feel like I’m behind.”
“I’m sure it’s not everyone. Even if it seems like it.”
“Do you think that’s… why I happened?” I ask, “Because you were trying to… process it?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I’m just very impulsive and didn’t always make good decisions. Either way, I’m glad I have you. How did you get so smart and emotionally well adjusted?”
“I’ve got pretty good parents.”