Across a corner table in the cafe, he sat, one leg over the other. His right hand quickly dipped into his jacket pocket. He handed her a tiny box, wrapped in gold paper. “A start,” he began to say, “for all the birthdays I’ve missed.” A slow smile spread across his face. His features were familiar to hers. They were the same ones staring back at her in her bathroom mirror every morning. The same scraggly, mousy brown hair. The same eyes— wide-set and intense. The same pursed lips and grin.

“Open it.”

A decade of lost time stands in between father and daughter— its presence, jarring and unaddressed. They tiptoed around each other’s feelings. Both waiting for the other to make the first move. She hoped for an apology, while he seeks trust. As if a man— stubborn and prone to drifting off— would find the words to express them. As if she— a fortress of harboured emotion and resentment— would suddenly learn to speak freely.

A meeting, doomed from the start.


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