"Mitch, I'll be downstairs waiting for you, okay?" Scott assures, leading Lindsey down, armored with a sleeping bag and pillow.
"Okay. You don't need to wait up."
"I will." He flashes me a cheesy smile and disappears.
I roll my eyes and then look to my father. He's walking to the living room, then sits, then motions for me to come sit in front of him. I sit on the couch across from the armchair he's in. He mutes the television, then looks at me for a long while. I stay silent, looking down for the most part but glancing up every so often. Finally, he leans forward. "It's so good to see you, Mitch."
I don't answer immediately, so he takes the initiative to continue. "I... Part of me thought I would never see you again."
I frown. "I know I don't see you much, Dad, but that doesn't mean I won't visit every so often."
"I haven't seen you in two years," he states flatly.
"And whose fault is that?" I bite back. He gets really quiet which isn't out of the ordinary for him, but is certainly out of the ordinary for how he has been acting tonight. "I'm sorry. I just... I just wish things were different."
"I don't want this to be a therapy session," he says and I take some offense. I'm finally opening up a little, and he shoots it down. "But," I sigh in relief when he says that, "I think we really do need to talk about some feelings."
I straighten up a little. "Okay."
"So I'll start." A big sigh. "After your mom died, I realized I had no idea how to raise a child. She did everythin' for us, and I knew I could never live up to that. Plus, we were broke from all the medical bills, so instead of raising you, I threw myself into work. But I want you to know that when you moved out, I felt like... like a part of me was missing."
I stare down at my hands.
"I couldn't even go downstairs for a while. All the laundry just piled up in my room because I couldn't stand to see your empty room next to laundry room. Then I thought you would come back for breaks, and I mean, ya did, once in awhile. But that first summer you didn't visit once, and I knew that I had screwed up. I just didn't know how to fix it. And it's been, what, eight years? And I still don't know how to fix it."
I look up to him and take a second to think. "There are just some things you can't fix, Dad."
"This is the one thing I need to. You're my only child, Mitch. You're the only family I have left." The tears start to well up when I don't answer. But I don't have an answer yet. I don't know what to tell him. "Okay," he says, "I don't expect you to forgive me so soon. I was barely a father to you. But tell me, do I have a hope of being in your life again? Can you catch me up on everything I've missed in these past eight years?"
"That might take all night."
I stare at my baggy sweatpants and tight shirt, then rub my head. I don't want to be here all night, so I sum it up as much as possible, talking fairly quickly. "Alright, well, I went to college that fall, made a few friends, did bowling to fill my sports requirement, found out I suck at bowling, blah blah blah. I don't know, nothing super exciting happened. I worked at a coffee shop for a while to support myself, I graduated, which you should remember since you came to the graduation."
"Then, uh, I quit the coffee shop and started to look for jobs that actually pertained to my economics major. Got a crappy apartment about an hour away from the college, found a job at the local bank, worked there for a while. I told you about that last time I was here, right?"