Graduation was uneventful. As I got up to give my speech as salutatorian, I could see Mamma getting the tissues out. Cari and Andi cheered so loudly for me. Nonna kept snapping pictures with her camera, and Nonno kept nudging her to stop jumping in front of other parents to get the best shot of me. I threw my diploma high when I walked outside, smiling at my accomplishment. I was going to do well in life. I had received multiple scholarship offers and I’d even received an award – most likely to succeed.
I looked around, hoping to see Gage in the crowd. To my disappointment, I couldn’t find him. I figured he already went home. Why would he hang around you? a voice inside my head taunted me. You’re nothing special. You’re just like everybody else.
The thought instantly made me frown. Bah! Stupid insecurity issues messing with me on today of all days. I took off my graduation robe and cap and handed them to my mom. She left to go home after kissing me on the cheek and whispering she was proud of me in my ear. I looked around to see if I could see Ayesha or any of my other friends. Then I saw something that shocked me. My dad! I stomped down the stairs toward him.
“What are you doing here, Howard?” I demanded angrily.
I hadn’t seen my dad since the night he walked out on my mother… with that llama-drool-faced nut-lady.
“Hi Kassiopeia, it’s good to see you too,” Dad said calmly. “I… uh… congrats on graduating.”
“Thank you,” I said sarcastically.
“I was hoping to get into the ceremony, but they wouldn’t let me in at the door so I thought I’d wait here,” Dad explained.
“Is that why you’re all dressed up in fancy duds?” I sneered. “What’s with the beanie?”
“Um… it’s uh… a long…uh… story,” Dad sighed, looking down at the ground. “Kass, do you think you could meet me? To chat? Just a cup of coffee between your old dad and you?”
“You stopped being my dad the day you walked out. You haven’t even been paying child support to Mamma. I should hate you, not have coffee with you.”
“I know… I know,” Dad said. “I don’t blame you. Can I just see you for a half-hour tomorrow? I have something important to talk to you about.”
“I don’t know, Dad,” I grunted and it sounded weird saying his name. “You can’t just be in my life again.”
“I’m not asking to… for you to… not yet at least… I’m asking for a half-hour. I’ll meet you at Jade’s Java Jolt₁ at eleven. It’s still your favorite place right?”
“I guess…” I sighed, hating myself for believing he was so sincere and really wanted to see me. “I’ll meet you there.”
“Thank you,” his face lit up, but he quickly hid the emotions, trying to avoid appearing too eager. “Thank you, Kassiopeia.”
I watched him walk away, immediately regretting my decision to say yes. Maybe I’d just flake on him. I can be just like everybody else who hates their dad’s guts for cheating on their Mamma. But deep down I knew I’d meet him.
I talked Ayesha into dropping me off at home. Mamma had already left, thinking I was riding with Gage. Ayesha said she’d swing back to pick me up if I wanted to go with her to Zelda Mae’s party. I told her I just wanted a quiet dinner with the family.
“Kassio, is that you?” Mamma called me from the kitchen when I walked in the house.
“Yeah, Mamma, I’m home. “Something smells good…” I froze and stared at the kitchen table.
It was covered in flowers. Whoa! Someone must’ve bought every bouquet at the flower shop.
“They’re all for you,” Mamma told me. Seeing my stunned face, she continued, “You are loved, sweetheart. People are excited for you… graduating high school. We’re all so proud. You can read the cards and find a place to put all of them since dinner is almost ready.”
“Wow!” was all I could say.
“There’s coffee on the counter in case you need a boost,” Mamma smiled. “And don’t worry. I didn’t cook myself. I got you sushi from the Simasian market. I know how much you love Simpanese cuisine.”
I decided to leave the pink bouquet of flowers from Gage and moved the rest to my bedroom. We all gathered around the table to eat sushi takeout. I was touched by Mamma’s thoughtful planning. Andi wasn’t so sure about eating raw fish. I told her to suck it up because it was my day. She frowned and said she would just make me eat escargot on her graduation day. I inwardly chuckled. If she remembers…
“So,” Mamma broke the awkward silence. “I wanted to tell all of you some news.”
“You got promoted?” Carina guessed.
“Nah, we would’ve heard that,” Andi shook her head. “You got us all tickets to see the symphony.”
“Oh gag me!” Carina rolled her eyes.
“Tell us,” I cleared my throat, kicking Carina under the table.
“Ow!” she yelped.
“I’m seeing someone,” Mamma announced.
Carina coughed and nearly choked on her fish. My hand froze with the fork in mid-air.
“Wow! Suddenly this sushi is even less appetizing,” Andi said sarcastically.
“You’re what?” Carina gasped.
“I met a really nice guy. He… uh… well, I wanted you to know,” Mamma said softly, her eyes twinkling.
That’s who Mamma was talking to this morning.
“That’s all you’re going to say?” I asked, trying to remain calm.
Someone had to be the rational one and it usually was me.
“That, and I invited him over if that’s okay with you girls,” Mamma replied. “Kass?” Mamma looked at me.
Carina and I both jammed big bites into our mouths at the same time to avoid answering.
“Tonight?” Andi squeaked. “I have plans.”
“Oh yeah, what plans?” Carina smirked.
“Well… I’m going out…” Andi said smugly, picking at her plate.
“Well, you can’t,” Carina glared at Andi. “There’s no way you’re leaving me here to face Mamma’s new boytoy alone.”
“I resent that,” Mamma stood up from the table. “He’s… and he’s… well… we’re not official yet. He wanted to meet you girls first.”
“I’ll be here, Carina,” I said, wondering if I was invisible.
“Well, I’m going out anyway. No way am I sticking around for… well, whoever he is,” Andi replied.
“I’ll be upstairs,” Carina grunted, dropping her plate in the sink.
I pushed back my chair and walked out into the hallway. Maybe I could just get a nice hot shower and forget the drama of the day.
“So honey… what do you think?” Mamma followed me into the hall.
“What do you mean? You haven’t told me anything,” I answered.
“Well, his name is Clark Sauer₂. He is a janitor at the elementary school.”
“A janitor? Mamma?” I sighed. “You could do better.”
“I don’t think so,” Mamma disagreed. “He’s a really sweet man. I hope you girls give him a fair chance. I expect you to be mature about this, Kassiopeia, because you’re the oldest.”
“Ugh! Okay… whatever,” I sighed, slumping my shoulders. “He’s on his way over now?”
“Mamma, you’re getting him to work for you?” I exclaimed.
“Well, he offered. And it’s a great casual opportunity to meet you, Cari, and Andi.”
“Mamma, Andi left to go who knows where and I don’t think Cari is coming downstairs.”
“Well, then it’s just you and me, kiddo,” Mamma joked as she walked back into the kitchen, turning her attention back to the sink which was now overflowing since Carina left the water running. “Why don’t you go talk to Cari? And try and find Andi?”
“Okay, Mamma,” I sighed. Andi couldn’t have gotten far anyhow.
Chapter Two, Part 2 Coming Soon.
- What will Howard have to say to his daughter after all this time?
- Who is this new boyfriend of Amy’s? Will the girls like him?
Author Changes: What’s different?
- Asian was changed to Simasian.
- Japanese was changed to Simpanese.