I had managed to slip into the house and get past my dad’s study door without him noticing me. Of course, that might have had something to do with the fact that he was on the phone, but I figured that since his back was to the door, there was a good chance he hadn’t heard me come in.
When he knocked on my bedroom door five minutes later, I knew I had hoped for too much.
“Come in,” I called reluctantly. I had managed to quickly get my Trig book out of my backpack so that I could plead mountainous amounts of homework in the hopes that he would leave me alone shortly.
“You busy, Sweetie?” he asked as he poked his head into my room.
“Kind of,” I replied, holding up my open Trig book. It wasn’t even open to the right lesson, but he would never know that.
“I’ll make it quick. I just want to talk to you for a minute.”
“Okay,” I sighed. “But I need to get this and my Chem 400 done before bed.”
“I’ll be quick, I promise.”
I nodded, and he pulled out my desk chair to sit in.
“Your sister called me.”
What?!?! No wonder he had been facing away from the door when he was on the phone. He had been watching the clock and knew when I would be coming home from school all along.
“I have some things I need to take care of at the office.”
I frowned. What did that have to do with my sister? “Okay, Dad. I’m a big girl. I can put myself to bed.”
“No, I mean… I’m going to need to start staying at the office longer during the day.”
“Oh. Well, that’s okay, too. I’m still a big girl, Dad.”
“Well, your sister offered to let you stay with her for awhile.”
Oh, here we go. The reason my sister called: to stick her nose where it did not belong. “Kallie and Stephen have two little girls and lives of their own. They don’t need me getting in their way and interrupting their family.”
“Kallie assured me they have discussed it and they both would love to have you there.”
“Dad, really, I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. I don’t need Kallie to babysit me anymore.”
My dad folded his hands and regarded me for a moment. “Kaedyn, I think it would be a good idea.”
Great. I could tell I was past being able to convince my dad. He had already made up his mind. “Just how long did you and Kallie talk?”
I tightened my jaw stubbornly. “I don’t want to go.”
“I’m sorry, Kaedyn,” he said, shaking his head, “but this is my decision. At least for right now. I need to know that you’re going to be okay, and I need to go back to work full time if I’m going to keep my job. This is the best solution I can come up with right now.”
“What do you mean? I’m sixteen! Why don’t you think I would be okay at home by myself for a couple of hours after school?”
“It might be more than a couple of hours. I might have to work late some nights; I’m going to have to start going on business trips again. It would be better for you to be with someone than to be alone that much. This will be best for now, Honey.”
My eyes filled with tears. I was going to lose this battle. “It’s not fair, Dad. I don’t want… I don’t want to go anywhere else right now. I just want to be here.”
“You don’t want to be here alone, Kaedyn.”
“No, I don’t. I want to be here with…” I stopped abruptly. I had almost spoken without thinking. “She’s here, Daddy,” I whispered, blinking furiously to hold back the tears. “She’s not at Kallie’s. And I want to be here.”
My dad swallowed hard. “I know, Honey, I do. I want her to be here, too. But she isn’t here anymore, Kaedyn. And staying by yourself just wishing that she was here with you is not good for you. I want you to go to Kallie’s for awhile.”
I wanted to argue with my dad. I wanted to tell him that he was wrong, that he did not understand, that he had lost his love and his wife but I had lost my mom and my confidante. But instead I nodded. Not because I agreed with him or accepted that I should go, but because I did not have anything left to say.
Finally, my dad spoke again. “I told my boss I would be back in the office full time tomorrow.”
“Then you’d better go so I can pack.”
“I’m not kicking you out, Kaedyn. Kallie will bring you home any time you want to come home. I promised her I would come to dinner when I can, and she and Stephen will bring you and the girls over for dinner or weekends sometimes. I just need to know you’re safe when I’m not around.”
“Yeah. And Kallie still thinks it’s her job to take care of me.”
“Now, don’t you blame her, Kaedyn. I am the one who asked her for help. So if you need to be angry with someone, be angry with me.”
I shrugged. I did not know what to say. I was upset with Kallie for meddling, frustrated with my dad for letting her. “I need to pack,” I said, motioning toward the door.
“Okay. Let me know if you need anything.”
“Too late,” I muttered as the door shut behind him.
I didn’t want to be angry with my dad, but it was hard. Mom never would have shipped me off to someone else. She would have talked to me. She would have tried to help me herself. She never would have asked someone else to step in and take care of her own daughter.