Present day—Los Angeles, California
I look over at my father. He is sitting across from me. His arms are folded over his chest, and there is a deep crease in his brow.
“Well?” I ask him. I’m halfway through my story, and he hasn’t said a word, not that this surprises me. But now I want some feedback.
“Well what?” he asks me.
I roll my eyes. “At this point, Chelsea and I were just friends. We were close. I’d never had a friend like her in my life. I was comfortable with her and happy around her. Our relationship was freaking perfect. I couldn’t see any of this shit coming, Dad.”
My dad is well aware of the fact something terrible has gone wrong between Chelsea and me. He knew it the moment he saw me tonight. But I haven’t yet explained to him exactly what went wrong. Instead, he’d asked me to start the story at the beginning, when I’d first met Chelsea. And for the last twenty minutes, I’d been doing just that. Now I am at a turning point in my tale, and I want to know what he’s thinking so far.
“Hmmm,” he mumbles.
“Do you think I should have?” I ask.
“Seen it coming?”
“Yes!” My frustration is definitely showing.
But my dad, a consummate Zen master, is perfectly calm. “Not necessarily. I mean, you didn’t see it coming, Buddy. It is what it is.”
I pull out the leather tie, and my hair flops down around my shoulders. I run my hands through it absentmindedly. “I just feel like, if I could have seen what was about to happen…”
“What would you have done differently?”
That is a good question. I stroke my three-day-old stubble and contemplate it. What would I have done differently? “I guess I should have asked her how she felt about our friendship,” I suggest.
My dad waves his hand at me dismissively. “No way. That is completely unlikely. No one would have a conversation that weird for no reason.”
“Right. See? There isn’t anything. Damn it!”
My dad unfolds his arms and leans forward. His massive tattooed forearms rest on his knees. His hair, which is almost identical to mine save for a handful of thin streaks of gray, slides around his shoulders. “It’s what happened later that I’m interested in.”
“I’m not even sure how to tell that part of the story.”
“Why don’t you start with the first time you knew things were changing between you?” he suggests.
I let out a heavy sigh. “I guess it was in France.”
My dad leans back in his chair, settling in for the rest of my story. “Hmmm. What happened in France?”