College Worthy, Abigail’s Father

From the time she was old enough to wonder about it, Abigail was always curious about her father, who he was and why he didn’t live with them. She had been to friends’ homes, and had seen their families — a wide variety of domestic circumstances — but in each case, there was usually an explanation. Her friend, Tina’s parents were divorced; her friend Joey lived with his grandmother because his parents had died when he was young, but for Abigail, no such answers had been given. She had no memory of her father, and her mother never talked about a husband. The subject rarely came up and on the few occasions where Abigail mentioned it, Rhiannon would usually reply with the vague, “He’s just not a factor in our lives.”

One afternoon, when she and her mother were cleaning up around the house, she decided to find out once and for all. 

“Mom, why don’t you ever talk about my father?”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Is he dead?”

“No, he’s still alive. He lives in Portland. Why are you asking about this, Kiddo?”

“I just want to know. All my friends know their parents, even if they don’t live together.”

“Your father and I never lived together. He has a whole other family.”

“Then you weren’t married.”

“No. I never thought we would be. Has someone been teasing you about this?”

“No, Mom. I’ve just wondered. Why haven’t you ever told me about him?”

“I’ve always felt you were too young for me to bring it up.”

“I’m seven-years-old, Mom. I think I can handle it.”

“It’s a delicate situation.”

“You had no trouble explaining where babies come from when I was five. I can’t see how this could be any more awkward.”

“It might change how you see me. I like to at least give the illusion that I know what I’m doing around you.”

“You’ve already shattered that illusion.”

“Really? When was that?”

“Usually when you’re trying out some new recipe.”

“Oh, right. So, what do want to know, Kiddo?”

“Does my father even know I exist?”

“I assume he does. He knew you were on the way. That’s why he dumped me.”

“Did you love him?”

“I cared about him for a time. Maybe I just loved what he represented.”

“Did he love you?”

“As I say, he dumped me when I told him I was pregnant. The evidence would suggest he didn’t.”

“Did he pay you to go away?”

“What kind of question is that to ask? How do you even know about such things anyway?”

“I saw it on television.”

“Well then I obviously need to more closely monitor what you’re watching.” She sits. “No, your father didn’t do anything but run away himself. Money was offered. I didn’t take it.”

“Why not? That could have been my college fund.”

“You have a 4.0 average. Keep that up, the money won’t be a problem.”

Abigail thinks for a moment.

“So, I may have brothers and sisters out there, right?”

“You definitely do. At least three that I know of. Probably more since I’m sure I wasn’t an isolated case.”

“Do you think I’ll ever meet them?”

“You might. What will you say to them if you do?”

“I don’t know. That would be really weird.”

“I’m sure it would be weird for them, too.”

“It might be nice to have a whole new family.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the family you have.”

“I don’t have any brothers or sisters. It’s just me and you.”

“What’s wrong with that? I never knew you wanted siblings. I mean, I’m not planning on having any more kids, given our current circumstances, but I didn’t even think you wanted any.”

“I don’t know. My friend Tina has two brothers, but she doesn’t always get along with them.”

“That’s the trade-off, Kiddo. The grass is always greener. Either you have them and don’t want them, or you don’t have them and do.”

“So, you’re not planning on getting married again?”

“Who would I marry?”

“Mr. Fitzgerald’s nice.”

“No, I will not be marrying Gary Fitzgerald. Two dates with him were more than enough. Besides, we have a good thing, don’t we? Just two single girls hanging out, having fun.”

“I hope you’re not avoiding it because of me,” Abigail says, leaning on the arm of the couch.

“Of course not.” Rhiannon goes over and hugs her. “I thought about maybe hooking up with someone after you were born, but I figured out I could handle all this by myself. Maybe I was a little gun shy about getting into another relationship, but things worked out.”

“I just wish I knew more about my father. Is he smart?”

“He sure is. He’s a doctor.”

“Really?”

“Yes. He’s a very important man in Portland.”

“Is that why I do so well in school?”

“I’m no dummy, you know. You probably get some of your smarts from both of us. But what really makes the difference is you take it seriously. You do the work. That’s just as important as natural talent. I’ve always tried to teach you that.”

“I do worry about my grades.”

“Keep that up, you’ll go far.”

“Do you think you’ll ever get married?”

“Who knows? If I do, it will be on my terms, though.” She hugs Abigail again. “In the meantime, I have a wonderful daughter who’s everything to me. I’ll always be here for you, Kiddo. You remember that.”

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