She sat there in silence as he spoke. She had been through this before, or at least she thought. Men are cowards at times. Whenever they had bad news to give, or if they had messed up terribly, they always chose a public place to break the news. At least for her, or maybe it was just the men in her life. When she was in seventh grade, her first boyfriend, Mike, took her to the lunch cafeteria to break up with her as he knew she would not cry while everyone was watching. Fast forward to university, her then boyfriend took her to a bar to say he was sleeping with her best friend. Her brother always took her to Joe’s Ice cream parlor whenever he needed more money to get off a gambling debt.
So this was not new. Her seated in this fancy restaurant as he sat opposite her explaining himself was not new. Yet, it felt new. There was an irritating noise in her ear. It was not real, but she heard it loud and clear. She looked straight at him but could not see him. All she kept thinking was how happy they were, and how, at this exact moment, her world was being torn apart.
She was getting married in ten days. These were the last days of her life as she knew it, everything was supposed to be centered around her. But now, this man seated across her had a fight with his conscience and he had to tell her his secret now. Why couldn’t he have waited until after the wedding?
“Why are you telling me now? What’s the point?” she asked harshly, harsher than she had expected it to be.
This caught him off guard and cut him off his sentence. He looked her straight in the face, full of remorse.
Amanda had never seen this look on his face before. He looked frail, tired and old. Time was not kind to anyone.
Guilt crept up on her. She loved him, she never wanted to hurt him. God knows, if the situation were different, she would have handled this better. But this man, her rock, her world, her support was breaking her heart just by sitting across her and telling her the truth.
She loved her father but never had she thought she would see the day he would make her cry. Then she thought of her mom, did she know? How would she take it all?
“I want you to invite her to the wedding,” he said with a lot of seriousness.
Amanda saw the irony of the entire situation and let out a sarcastic laugh. “You’ve got to be kidding me, dad.”
“No, I’m not. We’ve discussed this with your mother, and we all believe it’s high time-”
“It’s my wedding dad, mine.” She said angrily. “You do not pick my wedding day as the date you introduce your illegitimate child to the world!”
“Amanda, I know you’re upset, but being the first born in this family, I thought you could be more understanding of the situation.”
“You mean second born, you had her before me, right?”
Her father sighed. “I’m human Amanda, just like any other man. I made mistakes in my past but your mother forgave me. But I will not sit here and behave as if Julie does not exist.”
“That was never a problem to you in the past, so why change it now?”
“Just because you did not know about her does not mean I was never there for her. I took her to her first day of school. When she went to boarding school, your mother and I visited her all the time. When she got her first job, we went to dinner with her mother to celebrate. We just never told you as we thought you were not ready. I thought that this would be a good time for you as you are about to become someone’s wife. I thought you would understand. I’m sorry to have hurt you like this dear, and I respect your stance. We’ll talk about this when you are ready,” he said smiling and reaching out for her hand.
Their waiter came through to ask if they were ready for dessert.
“I’ll have a coffee and a double scoop of chocolate ice cream with strawberries on top for her,”he said looking at her.
“Dad, why do you always get me the same dessert wherever we go?”
“You’re my little girl,” he said casually, “chocolate ice cream has always been your favorite. When you were eight, you told me chocolate ice cream with strawberries would always make you happy. And that’s what I always want for you.”
She smiled back and gently squeezed his hand. Dad would always be dad to her, no matter what.
But now, she couldnt help but think, what if roles were reversed and she was Julie?
She erased that thought from her mind. Tonight, she was just a girl having dinner with her dad. Tomorrow would however be a different day.