I was curled up into Samuel’s side, when I felt him get very still all of a sudden. I don’t think he realized he did it, but when he got that still and silent, it was often because he had something that he wanted to ask me, and he was trying to decide if now was the best time to ask. Apparently, when in bed, I was an intimidating factor.
“Sammy?” I asked, curling in a little bit closer to him, “What’s on your mind?”
“I want to ask you a personal question, but I don’t know if it’s something that you want to think about or answer in particular, so I don’t want to ask and have you be in a funk right before bed.”
“Well, now you’ll have to ask me, because if you don’t I’ll just lay here staring at the ceiling wondering about all the funk-y thing you could ask me, and I’ll be in a funk anyway.”
“That’s fair.” Samuel turned up on his side, and blinked at me in the dark room. “Charlotte. What happened to your Dad?” I rolled over onto my back and stared at the ceiling. At the mention of my father, I started to see a little bit red, but I didn’t want to get angry. It would take too much effort to explain to Samuel that I wasn’t mad at him for asking, because I really wasn’t. It was only logical that after coming home, meeting my family, and listening to us carefully tiptoe around any mention of him for three days that he would be curious as to what happened. In fact, if the situation were reversed, I think I would have asked much sooner.
But just thinking about my dad made me so angry. Automatically. And truthfully I couldn’t really blame myself for that. If anyone I should blame my father.
“I’m sorry. Forget I asked. Forget I even mentioned it.”
“No, Samuel, it’s fine. You deserve to know. I’m just—getting my ducks in a line so that I can explain it to you in a way that makes some sort of rational sense, and even still, I can’t guarantee that I won’t get angry and start to ramble on points that make no sense okay?”
“That’s fine. Take your time. Do whatever makes you comfortable.”
I leaned over and kissed Samuel fiercely on the mouth. Whatever was happening between me and Jamie, whatever resentment I had towards my family, brothers, and father, I did love Samuel, for so very much in this world.
“Okay. I didn’t know most of this until I was much older, because really, what mother would want to tell her small child about something like this, but it is what it is, isn’t it? Here’s the deal. My father had a habit of getting bored. He’d get married, pop out a couple of kids, and be happily married, convincing everyone that this was always what he’d wanted. But then he’d get bored. Bored of his wife, bored with his kids, bored with playing happy husband and happy father. So he’d up and leave, file for separation and then file for divorce. Find a new woman, and start it all over again. Each one knew about his past with some degree of honesty, but they always figured that they were the one he was waiting for, or that they would be the one who would be able to keep him. They were always wrong. My mom was wife number five, so she was convinced that he could only be wrong so many times right? Plus, I was actually his first daughter, so my mom was hoping that the novelty of a daughter might keep him around for a while. Nope. He left when I was about eight. He returned for nine months when I was thirteen, thirteen months when I was seventeen, and for seven months just two years ago. I have nothing to do with him anymore. My mother still welcomes him with open arms because, well, she loves him despite of the idiocy he’s committed over the years. The twinies, I think, are still in contact with him in one way or another. But I won’t have anything to do with him at all. I mean, he’s a pain in the absolute pain in the ass, and he clearly doesn’t think of us as any more than play things, that can be picked up and dropped down whenever it strikes his fancy. He’s not worth my time nor my energy, and yet, I’m still angry with him. So I just don’t talk to him because it will prevent me from attacking him and wanting to throttle him. So–as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have a father. That’s what happened to my dad.”
There was silence in the bedroom for a moment. Then Samuel said, “So, you have more brothers?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ve got nine older half-brothers.”
“Do you talk to any of them?”
“Uh, not really, not with any regularity at least. I’ve met them all, through a variety of instances, but for the most part of it there is an almost natural competitiveness between the different families. His second wife is particularly stubborn about not letting her children interact too terribly much with the other wife’s children because she still considers herself his one true love, and therefore his only real children. I think she’s under the impression that the rest of his wives are witches and sluts and none of us are actually his kids, we’re just trying to steal things away from her children’s inheritance. Honestly, listening to her talk makes it sound like our father is King of England and we’re all vying for the throne. It’s practically Tudorian of her.
I do talk to Bradley every once in a while. He’s the youngest son of Dad’s first wife, and twenty-three years older than I am. He let me live with him for a year while I studying for my undergraduate degree and didn’t have the financial aid to stay on campus. He’s got a wife and kids of his own, which is very reassuring that we’re not destined to follow in our father’s footsteps, and are capable of having healthy relationships. He doesn’t talk to Dad at all anymore either, but basically Dad’s entire first family cut him off, so it’s a bit easier for Brad. Dad’s first wife took out a restraining order, and Bradley and Michael, her children, both threatened to do the same if he came near them or their own wives again.
Brad and I don’t talk too much anymore, but I’ll get a letter every now and again, and a card every year without fail for Christmas and for my birthday. I like Bradley a lot. I think he’s probably my favorite brother, which is kind of sad because I have two in-house full brothers, and I’d take Bradley over them any day.”
There was another moment of silence while Samuel seemed to think of what he wanted to ask next. I was beginning to wonder if I was scaring him off with all this insanity in my family. “Is your dad one of the reasons that you are so harsh with the twinies? Why you guys don’t get along?”
“It’s certainly the reason that things have become hostile between us recently. I mean, there was something about the Twinies and me that didn’t quite click even when we were kids. I love the boys, but I never really liked them, and they never really liked me. We certainly never played with each other or anything like that. But, yeah, things got pretty hostile when I told them and mom that I planned on ignoring all communication from our father. Mom understands because she sees how it’s stressful for me, and she sympathizes for my inability to deal with him. The Twinies, however, think that I am turning my back on true family because he’s my blood, and he’s my biological father. They figure if they can handle being in contact with him, then why can’t I? They see it as a betrayal, and they don’t think that traitors should be tolerated.” I couldn’t help myself now, I was officially getting mad. Samuel was just going to have to deal.
“Traitors shan’t be tolerated? Let me guess, their words, not yours?”
“Very good call. But–It is what it is. I know that the twinies will be there for me if I really need them, and I’ll be there if they need me…but we’ll never be good friends. And I’ve come to terms with that.” Samuel wrapped his arms around me, and I let him. I was still angry, but the only way to make it go away was to think of something else. Samuel kissed me on the top of head. “So–now that you know I come from slightly sociopathic stock, you still want to be with me?”
“Of course I do. I love you, slightly sociopathic stock or not. And thank you for trusting me enough to tell me all this.”
“Yeah. I love you, too.” I rested my forehead on his chest, and tried to fall asleep thinking about anything but my father.