Getting to the apartment was all a blur of footsteps against pavement, the stench of cats and a juddering lift. Finally I was stood before door 38, my feet firmly upon the velvet carpet, but my gaze still swimming.
I reached out a hand to rap against the cream panelled door.
A laugh sounded from inside. A woman's laugh.
Despite being more of a guffaw than a dainty laugh, it was definitely female. My body tensed, and the hand hesitated.
Another laugh sounded, a heartier version of the snickers Dad would give whilst watching House.
"I'm not too cool for the market place," his voice declared, "I'm pretty hipster, I'll have you know."
Ordinarily, I would be cringing at Dad thinking he was a hipster, though registering the fact that there was a woman in Dad's apartment consumed my thinking capacities. My body lurched back instinctively as I found the door swinging open towards me, and I was face to face with Dad.
"Lily?" His face was as shocked as I felt. Concealed in a scruffy attempt at a beard was a hint of a smile, though his voice still stuttered as he tried to joke, "What are you doing back so early?"
"I-I missed you," I said, hurtling myself into him before the tears threatened to spill again.
"Oh," Dad had retracted from me-there were no dark stains on his jumper but I could feel his eyes studying my probably puffy face, wondering what to say. Fortunately, another voice saved us both, the light-hearted voice of the guffawing woman.
"Okay, I've got everything-Jamie?"
From behind Dad appeared the precisely the last person I could have imagined as his girlfriend. A stocky woman, around mid-thirties, and adorned in patterned clothes that should have looked ridiculous together but somehow suited her. Tufts of wavy hair framed her ears, an Audrey Hepburn style fringe above purple glasses that enlarged her teal eyes to owl proportions. She was the foil to Mum.
"Oh, you must be Lily!" Her voice was as bright and round as the rest of her, and raced like a steam train with broken brakes, "I'm so glad to finally meet you- I'm Angie."
"Hi, yeah, I'm Lily," I said, glancing up at Dad, who gave a sheepish smile and a slight shrug. But he looked so happy that my own surprise melted away- far happier than he'd been in any of the half recollections I had of my childhood. "I'm sorry to turn up so unexpectedly. I can go back home, I won't butt in on your plans."
Angie only smiled at that, leaning forward in a conspiring manner with a wink, "Don't be silly, it's no problem- you've saved your Dad from an afternoon of boredom."
"Hey, I might like this market of old stuff. Just cause I'm a footballer doesn't mean I want to spend all my time kicking a ball around."
"I'm not sure if I should go either really, it's not like my shop hasn't got enough pop culture items as it is," Angie continued, and it was then that the connection struck.
"Do you work in Flashback?" I said, recognising the outrageously orange cardigan from when I had been leaving the shop.
"Yes! In fact, I own it. Ah, you must be the Lily that Ramona teases Taylor about," her excited voice halted, lower lip bitten upon as though she had let something slip, though the mention of Taylor helped to dislodge my heavy heart.
"That's how we met," Dad said, "After you mentioned a few weeks ago this shop your friend works in and your plans for his birthday, I thought I'd check the place out. After bumping into its proprietor, I've been seeing Angie everywhere-"
"Until he presents me with a coupon to half price in the stadium shop and asks which day I could visit the stadium for a peruse of the shop and a sneaky muffin in the cafe?"
A smirk flickered on my face at that; Dad had really lost his touch after practically five years of being single.
YOU ARE READING
"If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it is a duck." Taylor Adams and Lily Baker: complete opposites in almost every sense. Taylor Adams: completely themselves when appearing and acting as androgynously as their name suggests, even if i...