My plan had been: to head home, grab a travel bag, and start driving up to them; but Dad stopped me.
“I’ll buy the tickets. Fly instead. So that you will have time to talk, but also time to get back,” Dad pulled out his phone to purchase the flights. “Do you want to leave now?”
I looked at Jeremy and he just nodded. “Yes, now.”
“I’ll book it. Go shower and then I’ll drive you both there,” Dad left the room, to probably use his laptop.
I didn’t move at first. ‘Jenny.’ “Go shower in the guest bedroom, Jeremy,” I dashed to the stairs to use my own bedroom’s shower.
“Jeremy,” Dad suddenly said on our way to the airport.
“Yes, Mr. Matthews?”
“Can you put in some ear buds. I need to discuss something with George,” Dad was focusing on driving but I could see a look of concern in his expression.
“Of course. I need a nap, anyways, after that practice. Dude,” Jeremy swatted at my arm before sprawling out on the back seat, “wake me when we are close,” and Jeremy was out.
‘What does Dad want?’ “What’s up Dad?”
Silence. Then Dad sighed, “I understand your confusion from yesterday. Finding out you have pretty much been living as a zombie, and also finding out about Jenny…” Dad paused. “But I need you to hide those feelings for this trip.”
It took me a minute to register what Dad just said. ‘Hide?’ “What are you talking about. This is the whole reason I’m going on this trip. The whole reason I am acting like a crazy person on a mission. What do you mean by hide?”
Dad pulled to the right, all the way to the slow lane, “Son…Jenny is still broken…”
“Brown called and told me that she was home, but that she was still hurt. He descirbed her as faking a smile. She is smiling, but he could still see the pain…” Dad grabbed the back of his neck. “I hope she will listen to Jeremy’s apology and hopefully it will help her to move past it; it was already a pistol to get Brown to understand that Jeremy is not to be blamed. That just his name was used to start the fire, and that he had no knowledge of this happening.”
‘I get it. Jenny needs to heal before her heart can accept anyone…’ “I understand. I’ll just be there to be the barrier between her and Jeremy. I don’t need Jeremy exploding at her if she triggers him.” ‘I understood, but I wanted an answer.’ “Dad…did you know that Jenny liked me? Did you ever suspect it?” We were pulling off
the highway. We were maybe fifteen minutes from LAX. ‘Big question to ask in fifteen minutes, idiot.’
‘Yeah?’ “Yeah, what? Yeah she likes me? Yeah you suspected it? What!?!”
“I knew she liked you,” Dad’s body seemed to slump. “I told her not to persue her feelings. It was that day I drove her home. You offered to do the dishes and I took the chance to talk to her.”
Shock. Disappointment. Anger. Everything I thought I would never feel for my old man came rushing forward. “HOW COULD…”
“Let me finish,” Dad pulled into the parking garage across from our terminal.
I glanced at the clock and we had arrived about thirty minutes early. “Talk.”
-Sophmore Year (Before Qualyfing Champs)-
“Thanks for the ride Mr. Matthews. I would have asked George for a ride, but he seemed quite determined to finish those dishes,” Jenny chuckled as she buckled her seat belt.
“No problem at all, Jenny,” Dad too buckled up and started towards her house. ‘How do I bring this up?’ Dad glanced at Jenny who was smiling while looking out the window.
“Yes,” Jenny’s head turned back, her expression was innocent.
“Do you have feelings for my son?” ‘Point blank is always the best option,’ Dad thought to himself.
…”I…uh…” Jenny’s face went flush, her complextion almost mimicked her hair color. “I…”
“Don’t worry. This is not an unhappy father. Whatever your answer you will always be my daughter in my heart,” was the truth.
Jenny turned back to the window, “I do. I…I love George.”
“Love!?! I asked if you liked my son, not if you loved him,” Dad exclaimed suddeny making Jenny jump out of her skin. “Sorry. But I think you are a little too young to know if you love someone.”
“I…I…” Jenny started to tear up, “I thought you would be happy?”
‘Great.’ “I am happy. Over the moon to be exact, but I am also conflicted,” Dad pulled into her driveway. “Wait a moment Jenny,” stopping Jenny from exiting the truck. “I am happy you like George. I hope your feelings can continue in the future, but also after this request. Know that it is a favor from a loving father,” I looked at
Jenny who seemed nervous about my request.
“Favor?” She inquired but I stopped her.
“I need you… to keep your feelings… to yourself,” the last words stung Dad as he said them. ‘How could I ask such a thing. Of a girl I saw as my own daughter.’
Jenny was shocked. Stunned. She didn’t answer. Didn’t move. She just stared at me, mouth gaped open, in shock. “Keep it to myself,” she was confused. “How is that even
“George’s life is at a critcal stage right now. He has poured everything into his swimming. He has changed drastically after his mom’s and I’s divorce. He seems to be hiding his pain from that by becoming an emotionless zombie. I know you have seen it,” Dad dug some tissues out of his door, because tears were starting to stream down her face.
Jenny accepted the tissues and wiped away her stained cheeks.
All the color was gone in her face; Dad could feel her defeat. “I just want my son to thrive in his goals. His dreams. I…I’m sorry for interferring in your feelings.” I…‘I don’t know how to explain how I felt in that moment.’
“I understand,” Jenny cleared her throat and whispered out those words. “I want him to thrive as well…” Jenny wiped away her last tear. “If that means I need to just
be a friend to him and motivate him to his goals…I can do that,” Jenny faced Dad once again, the color and radiance began to glisten from her. “My feelings won’t falter. I will be your daughter at some point in the future; just you wait,” Jenny giggled as she gathered up her belongings and quickly exited the truck.
“I’ll be looking forward to that day, Jenny,” Dad yelled from his window. Jenny turned and waved before she entered her house. ‘I pray to God, that her feelings will stay strong. God, watch over her.’