The Past in Coloradobyjtmalone70©
When I was four years old, my mom died in an automobile accident. I had no brothers or sisters; it was just my dad and I. Both of my grandparents passed away when I was in my early teens. My dad was an only child and my mom had a brother and sister, neither of whom my dad particularly cared for. So, in the end, it was just the two of us.
For as long as I can remember, he taught English Literature, starting out at community colleges and steadily working his way to the university level. On the side, he also wrote extensively.
His job took us all over the country, sometimes living in one place for two or three years, and then packing up to move to another town and another college where he would teach. Throughout it all, I managed to get by well enough, even with the lack of long-term friendships. To be sure, I did have friends, but always in the back of my mind was the prospect of having to pack up and resettle in a new school and start over again. I enjoyed it somewhat, however. I met a lot of people and saw places I probably would otherwise have never visited.
The one constant in my life was my dad. He was always very attentive and knew the moving was hard on me, so we did many things together. And all these years later, I look back and can see just what a wonderful father he was.
Right after my mom died, I spent a lot of time sleeping in their bed. Soon it became a regular habit and lasted until I was about twelve years old. I was entering my teen years and spent more time in my own bedroom, chatting with what few friends I had on the phone, talking about boys, movies, and all the nonsensical things teenage girls enjoy gabbing about.
When my dad wasn't at school, he was tucked away in his study in front of his typewriter, and then later his computer, spending many long hours writing and editing. I'd sometimes come in and pester him; just sitting on the floor talking about how my day went and asking him about his. He'd type away, lean in and stare at whatever he was working on, smile and nod, and ask me questions. I knew I was being a bother, but he never said anything otherwise. He seemed to enjoy the company, even if it was a distraction.
I had my first date with a boy when I was fourteen. I was very excited that evening, running around the house, frantically getting myself ready. My dad would follow me around, trying to keep me calm, but never quite succeeding. And when my young suitor arrived, he walked me downtown to the movie theater - neither of us old enough to drive. On the way home that night, he gave me my first kiss. It was a romantic Saturday evening in May, and I had goose bumps the entire way home.
I told my dad all about my date when I got home, and he was nearly as happy as myself. When I explained how the young man had kissed me, he tilted his head down and gave me a stern expression, although the smile growing on his face betrayed his thoughts. He was genuinely happy for me. But I could sense he was perhaps a little sad, too. His little girl was growing up.
That night lying in bed, I searched my mind, trying to recall every detail of my date. I recalled the expression my dad gave me when I told him about that first kiss. There was just a hint of disappointment, when I gleefully exclaimed how I was becoming a woman before his very eyes. And then I thought about how he never dated. I'd never put too much consideration into it before, but now that I was beginning to date, I wondered why he didn't. I thought it might be because of my mom. Although I only have vague memories of her, I still have pictures; of her and me, her and Dad at their wedding, the both of them together in college. She was a beautiful woman and, going by how highly my dad spoke of her, she must have been a wonderful person. So growing up, I tried to be just as good for my dad, as she was for him. I did everything for him, as my age would allow; making dinner, keeping the house neat and orderly, and doing the laundry. It was hard enough being a single parent, let alone one with a fulltime job, so I did my part to make life at home easier for him.
When I had my second date with this same boy a week later, I felt a twinge of regret at leaving my dad home alone. In fact, as the night wore on, I found myself wanting more and more to be at home with him. And by the end of the evening, I couldn't get in the house quick enough. I ran to my dad's study and burst in, while he sat his desk, working on a manuscript. He turned to me with a big smile, as I grinned, standing in the doorway breathing hard. Then he turned off his computer, stood, and walked me out to the kitchen where he got us two bowls of ice cream and asked me all about my evening.
That night, when we went to bed, I was standing in my room about to crawl under the covers. I paused, and then walked out of my room and over to Dad's, knocking softly on his door.
"C'mon in," he said.
I opened the door and found him sitting up in bed reading. He put a hand in his book and closed it, smiling at me.
"What's up?" he asked.
I stepped in and asked if I could sleep in his bed. It had been quite a while since I had and seemed to take him by surprise, but he nodded and pulled back the covers. I grinned and hopped in next to him, and we sat there for a moment, both of us silent, and me grinning from ear to ear.
"Whatcha readin'?" I asked.
"Oh, uh..." Then he held up the cover so I could see it. "Probably something you'd find boring," he said.
I craned my neck to get a closer look, and then curled my lip.
"Yeah, probably," I replied.
I sat there under the covers with my hands on my lap, not quite sure what to say, but happy all the same to be there with him. He finally glanced at me, saying, "So, uh... you mind if I...?" And he held up his book.
"Nah, go ahead," I chirped.
He gave me a warm smile and opened his book.
From that night on, not every night, but on occasion, I asked if I could sleep in his bed. I'd done it for most of my life and, in a manner, missed the closeness. And now, in my naive way of looking at it, I was doing it because I didn't want him to be lonely.
We moved two more times, before I finally graduated from high school. During those years, I managed to become a cheerleader. My dad wasn't much of a sports person, but he went to every game I was at. That is, every match - wrestling match. I was a cheerleader for the wrestling team at the school where I first became a cheerleader. It was during my freshman year and most of my sophomore. And then, of course, we moved again. But during my junior and senior year, I was able to become a football cheerleader.
Even though I knew it was torture for him, my dad showed up to the games when he could. Sometimes he'd have work to do, papers to grade, something going on that would prevent him from coming. But, nine times out of ten, he was there in the stands.
It was during my senior year, not long after I turned eighteen, that my dad had his first date since my mom's passing. He was at a home football game, just to come see me cheer, and some of the girls sitting on the bench with me saw me waving to him. They asked if he was my dad, and I nodded happily and gave him another wave. One of the girls remarked that he was attractive and another added the same sentiment. In a word, they referred to him as "hot!" I guess in the back of my mind, I'd always considered him handsome. And as I sat on the bench, everyone around me chattering loudly, yelling out words of encouragement to our team, I thought about what they'd said about him. I slowly turned and looked up in the stands. He saw me and smiled, giving me a little wave, and I grinned sheepishly and smiled back, then quickly turned away.
That was the first time I ever consciously thought of him in terms of his sexuality. I couldn't bring myself to refer to him as "hot", though he was certainly handsome. But I also knew I shouldn't be thinking about my own father like that. Still... I had to force myself not to turn and have another look. He may not have cared for sports, but he did take care of himself. He worked out in our garage all the time; as far back as I can remember. He jogged, had a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do, and even fenced in college.
While I was thinking of him, someone shook my shoulder, bringing me out of my trance. It was one of the girls sitting next to me. The game had ended and everyone was walking off the field. Apparently we had lost. As we left the stadium, one of the girls asked if my dad was single. I laughed, saying something about how he was probably too old for her. She giggled, replying that her mom was single and she thought maybe he could ask her out. I considered it for a moment and thought it wasn't a bad idea, so she and I quickly arranged for them to meet in the parking lot, under the pretense of discussing our next cheerleading practice.
I practically had to drag him with me to see my friend and her mom. He kept asking why it was so important and, when we were standing by their car, he figured it out. My friend and I introduced them, and then made an excuse to stand a few feet away, forcing our parents to converse, if only briefly. A few minutes later, we returned. They finished chatting, and my dad gently shook her mom's hand, and then we went to our car and drove home.
"So, what'd ya think?" I asked happily - perhaps too happily.
He glanced at me from the corner of his eye and smirked.
"About the game, your cheering... or Janice?"
I furled my eyebrows. "Who's Janice?"
My dad chuckled, replying, "Your friend's mom, ya doof. It was a little obvious what you two were up to back there."
Rather embarrassed, I tried not to grin and said, "Sooo... what'd ya think of her?"
He laughed again. "What'd I think? I think you need to be a little more subtle, that's what I think."
I reached over and poked his leg.
"No! C'mon, you know what I meant. Seriously, what'd ya think of her? Interested?"
He smiled broadly, as we turned into our driveway.
"I dunno," he replied. "Maybe. You think I should ask her out, is that what this is all about?"
I shrugged. "I dunno. I guess it's up to you."
He shrugged, too, and turned off the headlights. "Ok," he said. "Maybe I will."
As we got out of the car, I don't know why, but I wasn't as happy about this as I knew I should be.
A week later, Dad was in his bedroom getting ready for his big date with Janice, as I sat on the bed watching him put on a tie. He turned to face me and held out his hands.
"Well, how do I look? Presentable?"
I smiled. "Yeah," I said, trying to look happy for him. "Very handsome."
He grinned and walked over to his closet for a jacket. While he plucked through the hangers, I watched, thinking he was a fairly nice looking guy. And in that moment, in an instant, I felt the slightest hint of jealousy growing in my heart. Feeling a bit dejected, I pushed myself off the bed and walked out and down to the living room. A few minutes later, he came tromping down the steps and stood in front of me, as I sat on the couch.
"Well," he said, adjusting his tie and looking in a mirror. "You know where we'll be. I dunno what time to tell you I'll be home. No later than... I dunno... midnight?"
He turned and glanced down at me. I looked back to the television and held up my hand. "Yeah, ok," I replied with a sigh. "I might be in bed."
He gave me a funny look, saying, "Bed? On a Friday night?"
I picked up the remote control and shrugged. "I'm tired," I lied. I wasn't tired. In fact, I was becoming more and more jealous of this other woman with each passing second. I just wanted this night to be over.
He looked at his watch, and then came over and leaned down to kiss my forehead.
"See ya later, kiddo."
"Ok," I mumbled, as he walked to the door. "See ya."
He was standing with one foot out the door and looked back at me.
"You ok?" he asked.
"Yeah," I replied. "Go have fun on your date."
I glanced at him, still aiming the remote at the television. He had a puzzled expression on his face, but grinned and closed the door with a wave. Then I lay back on the couch with a heavy sigh.
There wasn't anything interesting on television, which worked out well, because I wasn't interested in watching it. I tossed the remote off to the side and sighed again. I missed him already and it hadn't even been five minutes. I wondered if he ever felt the same way, whenever I went on a date. I stood and walked out to the kitchen to get a drink, and then went over to my dad's study to look for a book to read.
His walls were filled, top to bottom, with hundreds of books. Most were fiction, though a few non-fictions could be found here and there. I slowly walked around the room, letting my finger skip from the spine of one book to the next, finally landing on my mom's old college yearbook. I hadn't looked at it in a long time. The pages with his and mom's pictures were marked with little strips of paper so they could easily be found. I pulled it down from the shelf and flipped through it. My parents met in college, and this yearbook had their graduation pictures in it. She had a big circle drawn around my dad's with little hearts encircling it. I smiled, as I gazed at his picture, running my finger over it. Then I turned to the page with my mom's picture. She and I looked so much alike. Not exactly twins, but I did inherit some of her facial and physical features; her red hair was the most obvious. I definitely had her eyes; hazel with little dimples under them. And we both had a sprinkle of freckles around our noses. In another picture, she was standing with a group of people, members of a drama club. She was laughing and had her arm around a girl. My mom was wearing shorts and a t-shirt with a big peace symbol on it. She and I could have probably passed as sisters, if not mother and daughter. Sadly, I didn't appear to have inherited anything from my dad.
I looked at a few more pictures, and then carefully returned the book to its place on the shelf.
In the bottom drawer of my dad's desk, he kept a box of family photos. I sat on the floor next to the drawer and pulled it open, and then fished out the box.
I went through all the pictures from my childhood, mostly of me with my dad on birthdays, holidays, or just random pictures of us together. The more I looked at them, the more depressed I became. Why was I feeling like this? I should be happy he was finally out on a date, having a good time, being with someone more closely his own age. At the time, I didn't know why it bothered me, but it did. I wanted him home with me.
I put the lid on the box and returned it to the drawer. I'd never snooped through his stuff, but now I began to wonder what else was in the drawers. I carefully pulled one open - just a stapler, a few pens, a little box of paperclips, index cards; nothing very interesting. In another drawer were two boxes of envelopes and some manila folders, printer paper, and a book of stamps. Then I pulled open the last drawer. It was full of random items: a dictionary, thesaurus, and a bag of pens. As I searched through it, I found a small white envelope. I reached in and carefully opened it. Inside were a handful of photographs. I plucked them out and fanned them in my hand. They were various pictures of me, from when I was very small to the present, the most recent being a few of me in my cheerleader uniform at the last football game not a week before. I smiled. Some of them I knew he had taken. He'd call my name and I'd turn just in time to see a bright flash. But my favorite picture was one of us standing together, our arms around each other, as we smiled for the camera. It was at a football game, and one of my friends took the picture for us. I removed this one from the rest and set it on his keyboard, leaning it against the monitor so it would stand upright where he could easily see it. Then I put the envelope back in the drawer and closed it.
Out in the living room, I plopped down onto the couch and sighed. An hour had passed since he left. I tried to wile away the time by watching television, tried to watch a movie, but couldn't and finally forced myself up and went to the bathroom.
I turned on the water and filled the tub, resigning myself to a nice bubble bath. I took plenty of showers, but not many baths. As the tub filled, I chuckled, thinking the reason I didn't take baths was because my dad seemed to always get into the shower before me and used up most of the hot water. He didn't do it on purpose, but I would sometimes scold him for it. Now seemed a good time to take advantage of his absence. I poured some soap into the water and swished it around with my hand, lathering up the water until the surface was covered with a layer of white foam. Then I stood and undressed. As I watched the tub fill with water, I glanced into the bathroom mirror. My breasts weren't very big, small and poking out like soft white cones from my chest. My skin was very pale with a few freckles laced around my neck and shoulders, tapering off down my arms. My hair was in a ponytail, and I reached back, removing the rubber band, and shook my hair out. It stopped just below my neck. As I looked into the mirror again, I thought back to my mom's college pictures; we did look rather alike.
When the tub was filled, I gingerly stepped into the hot water and eased myself down, letting my body get use to the heat. And when I was completely seated, I gently laid my head back and sighed, closing my eyes. After a minute or so, I let my hands roam across my body, rubbing the bubbles over my chest and arms. I smiled; it felt very relaxing. And then I began thinking of my dad, wondering what he was doing right at that moment.
To me, he was the best dad in the whole world. He was kind and thoughtful, very sweet to me. Other girls my age probably would have taken advantage of his parental kindness, but I never did. I couldn't. He gave me so much love and respect, and I felt I owed him as much, if not more, in return. He never raised his voice to me and only spanked me once when I was very little. I was six years old and don't even remember what it was I had done. All he did was give me two swats on the butt. But he always said he felt bad about that, and I guess I behaved so as not to put him in that position again.
As I lay in the warm water, my hands drifted up to my breasts. I gently massaged my nipples, feeling them harden under my fingers and began thinking of some of the guys I'd been on dates with. They were all nice to me and very cute. The most I'd ever done with a boy was kiss him. If they tried to bring a hand up to my breasts, I'd giggle and slowly push it away. And I was still a virgin. A lot of my friends weren't, having traded it in for a moment's worth of selfish pleasure. But I wanted to save myself for the right person; someone I was deeply in love with, someone who was as passionately in love with me, as I was with him. My hand drifted down from my breasts, down across my belly, and between my legs. I moaned softly. Then the vision of my dad suddenly appeared in my mind and my eyes shot open. I jerked my hand away and lay very still in the water for a moment. Far in the deep recesses of my mind, I could feel it trying to process what had just happened. I tried to ignore it and sat up, leaning forward to unplug the drain. Then I stood, as long sheets of bubbles slowly slid down my body, and turned on the shower to rinse.
While I dried, I used the towel to wipe away the steam on the mirror and looked at myself. I was simultaneously thinking about how similar I looked to my mom and thinking I should pretty myself up for my dad when he came home. Then I quickly turned and went my bedroom to get ready for his arrival.