Chapter 6

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"You seem tense."
Well, mom, that probably is because I am tense, Aria thought.
"It's only school. I have so much to catch up on and except Mr. Fitz the teachers so don't care."
There, the truth. Well, a tiny part of the truth. She didn't like keeping secrets from the people she loved, especially her mom, but she had done so since over a year ago, since the thing with her dad. And even if she told her about everything else, she would only make her a target and the secret, the one that bothered her the most, would just stay a secret. It just wasn't worth the consequences telling.
"So, Mr. Fitz?"
Aria felt her cheeks getting hot. Damn, she really had to find a way to control this.
"Yeah...", she said lamely. "He's a great teacher. And we're reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird'"
"Haven't you read that a million times already? I mean, I know you love it, but doesn't it get boring after some time?"
"No it doesn't! And it's really great to talk about in class. You get so many different points of view, and we always discuss or talk about how this affects life today and everything."
"No need to get so defensive. And so you like him?"
"Who?" Aria acted oblivious.
"Who? The man we've been talking about for the last few minutes. Your new English teacher, Mr. Fitz."
Oh well, she should have known it wouldn't work... She liked him. And sometimes she talked quite a lot about him. But there were moments like this, when she only wanted to change the topic. And fast. Unfortunately it seemed like Ella wouldn't give up that fast today. For whatever reasons she apparently wanted her to talk about him. Maybe she waited for her to finally say something negative. Well, for that she would have to wait a very long time. Because he was a brilliant teacher. And whatever confused things she might or might not be feeling were pretty surely only a silly crush anyways, so no reason at all to tell her mom. If it went Aria's way, she would never know. If she did, it would only be embarrassing for all people involved, especially her, and well, Ella would probably tell her friends sooner or later, who then told their friends and ultimately Mr. Fitz himself would find out. And that was not an option. So she tried to act as innocent as possible.
"What about him?"
"Well, you only ever tell how great he is. Surely he isn't that perfect, right?", Ella pressed.
"Mom", Aria said. "I'm gonna say this one time and never repeat it again, so listen. Mr. Fitz. Is. A. Great. Teacher. And I'm certain he has his faults but as far as I can tell, they do not have any impact on his teaching."
Like ignoring me, for example. It wasn't exactly nice, she had no idea what she had done to deserve it, but that didn't change the fact that his classes were her favorites. Okay, English had always been her favorite class, but he did teach it well. And to be fair, she had been ignoring him too, since the one time some days ago, when she was late. Alright, he has sounded friendly when he explained what she was supposed to do, but also a little distanced, not like at the church, when he talked freely and they had that kind of bond or something, and she couldn't help but be a little offended, even though she knew she had no right to be. It just felt frustrating. Yes, he was her teacher. And if he wanted to keep a professional distance, fine. But he could have at least told her... Or not violated it in the first place. So after first avoiding him because of her embarrassment over the state he'd seen her in, then trying to get him to notice her again, after she'd noticed he was ignoring her, she went back to just treating him like someone she didn't explicitly like, but also not dislike. Just neutral. And a bit on the ignoring side to be perfectly honest. But that was his own fault. If he even minded. Judging from the last ten days he obviously didn't.
"Well, that's nice to hear", Ella said. Aria could hear that her mother didn't quite believe her words. But at the moment she could care less.
"What's nice to hear?"
Oh great! Just great! Her Dad stepped into the living room, apparently wanting to be filled in on the discussion that they had finally just closed. Thanks, Dad! Now we can talk even more about things I don't want to talk about!
"Aria's English teacher. From what I've heard, he's as close to perfect as it gets."
"Even more perfect that I am as a teacher?", he asked in a joking voice. Aria could barely suppress a cough. Her father was about as far away from being a perfect teacher as one could get. Maybe not in class but definitely in aspect of his, chrm, tutoring. Also she was pretty sure there was no superlative of perfect. And Byron should know that, teaching English as well. At a college. "I don't think me or Aria could be judge of that. I don't know Mr. Fitz at all, and neither me nor your daughter have ever taken a class you taught." "Well... maybe we should get to know this Mr. Fitz then... Even though we still would need an unbiased opinion."
This time Aria had to roll her eyes. "You guys are not seriously turning this into a contest, are you?"
Ella chuckled.
"Knowing your father, he just might." Aria groaned.
"Please don't?"
It came out more like a question than a request. Unfortunately, this caused both be parents to break out in laughter. Good thing there was no one there to witness. Except 'A' of course, Aria thought, goose bumps crawling up her skin. This thing was just plain scary, even in broad daylight. A loud knock on the door interrupted her parents laughter fit and fortunately also her thoughts.
"I'm gonna get that", Ella said in a cheerful voice.
"Okay, I'm gonna go upstairs and finish my homework."
Aria's mom left the room to get the door -- Aria would bet at least five bucks it was her brother -- and she got up and made her way to her room. "Hey."
Byron's voice made her turn around. He sounded serious. Not a good sign.
"Like I said, I have homework and still a lot of catching up to do. So what is it?"
"I love you, Aria, you know that, right?"
She had a bad feeling of where that conversation was going to lead. Nonetheless, she nodded.
"Yeah. I know."
"And you know that I love your mom." Aria closed her eyes, before slowly opening them again. So it was that again, the one thing she would do almost everything for to just forget. She couldn't believe her dad limed thinking about it either. So why did he insist on bringing it up again and again? She looked him intensely in the eyes. If he wanted to talk, fine. But she would not hide he attitude on all this.
"Do you?", she asked.
Because at this point, she wasn't really sure anymore. Okay wait, switch that. She really wasn't sure anymore. What other reason to bring such an issue up so frequently?
"I made a mistake okay? And I will be sorry about it for the rest of my life. I just hope that one day you'll be able to forgive me."
Until now he certainly wasn't doing a good job at pushing her in the 'right direction'. But hope dies last, at least that's what everyone said. Except for Spencer. She was convinced it bred eternal misery. Still...
"I hope so too", Aria said. And she meant it. She couldn't forgive him for cheating on his wife, especially because it was with one of his students, but she did hope that one day, eventually, she would. Because the way it was now neither of them was happy. And that probably wouldn't change until she had found a way to do what he had asked. Forgiveness.

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