Dad’s face falls slack with recognition. “Luce, I…” His eyes gloss over; he looks pained. I see his bottom lip tremble once before his jaw tightens.
I have to look away. The anger that exploded from me cools just as quickly as it boiled, leaving me exhausted. I sigh. “I know, Dad. I’m sorry.”
“No. No, I’m sorry.” Dad runs both palms down his face, wiping away his emotion. “I shouldn’t have done this.” He clears his throat and shoots nervous glances around his feet. “Where … where is my hat…?” he mumbles.
Dad’s eyes bounce quickly from my face to his hat, perched on the banister post. He grasps it with both hands to his chest, bending the rim. “I’m so sorry, Lucy. You’re right. Of course you’re right. I can’t ask you to stay.”
“Dad… That’s not it; I…”
How can I tell him what I’m really feeling when I don’t even know myself? I’m so angry with him, but so happy he’s here. I’m excited to leave with Mom, but I wish I could stay with Dad.
His eyes catch mine. “It’s OK, Luce. I know.”
And in that second, I think he does. I feel like I’m five years old again, when Dad could sense that I was scared to ride the kiddie rollercoaster at the traveling fair without even asking. “Let’s skip this one,” he said as we strode by the clanking, sparkling ride. “It looks boring.”
Dad smiles a crooked smile and opens up his arms. I step forward and allow myself to be wrapped up. And as he gives me a tight squeeze, I know I made the right decision.