Graduation Night, continued...
Nina Harding had an appointment at the beauty parlor at one o’clock, so she arranged to meet her friend Ethel Warner beforehand for lunch. Nina and Ethel originally met at the beauty parlor, when they were both waiting for an appointment and struck up a conversation. They soon found that they shared something in common: they both had children who were bound to wheelchairs.
Ethel’s daughter Marisa had been in a wheelchair her whole life. Marisa had a bad case of cerebral palsy and had fairly severe contractures of all four of her limbs. She operated an electric wheelchair with one curled up and atrophied hand. However, Marisa’s mind was miraculously spared from the disease. She received special tutoring at home and was now pursuing a masters in anthropology.
Nina invited Ethel and Marisa over for dinner a few times and found Marisa to be an extremely intelligent girl. When you first looked at her, with her curled up hands and twisted legs and lopsided face, it was hard to believe she could be a college graduate. And when Marisa spoke, her voice was slow and tended to slur. That was why Tim had brushed her off as being “retarded”. But nothing could be further from the truth. Marisa’s disability was only skin deep, much like Adam’s. But it was so hard to convince Tim of that.
When Nina met Ethel for lunch, she noted that her friend looked tired. Nina could sympathize. “How are you?” Nina asked her.
Ethel shrugged. “Same old, same old,” she replied. Ethel had a hard life. Her husband died of a heart attack ten years ago, at age 45. Marisa was Ethel’s only child and Nina knew that Ethel desperately wanted her daughter to find a man. Nina and Ethel had something in common in that respect.
“How’s Marisa?” Nina asked.
“Oh, she’s doing very well,” Ethel replied. “She thinks she’ll have her dissertation finished by the end of the year. How is Adam?”
“Still single, unfortunately,” Nina sighed. “He hasn’t called Marisa, I suppose.”
“No, he hasn’t.”
Nina shook her head. “That boy is so shy. Ethel, you should have seen his eyes light up when I mentioned Marisa, but he’s just so afraid of women.”
“Marisa is the same way,” Ethel confided. “Whenever I mention the possibility of a blind date or something like that, she says she’s too busy. But she’s 26 years old already... I think it’s about time she went on a date. What’s she going to do after I’m gone?”
“I really think they would hit it off,” Nina said. “If only they weren’t both so stubborn.”
Ethel sighed. “What can we do?”
“I have an idea,” Nina said. “Adam is coming over for dinner tonight. Why don’t you and Marisa join us? But don’t tell Marisa that he’ll be there... and I won’t tell Adam.”
Ethel smiled. “Nina, you’re so devious.”
Nina stuck out her chin defiantly. “Well, I just think every mother has a right to see her son happily married.”
Tim was furious when Nina told him her plan. Not only was she trying to set up their son after Tim had explicitly told her not to, but she was going to lie about it. But after 36 years of marriage, Nina knew how to soothe her husband’s temper. Nina had a good point, after all—Adam hadn’t been on a date in ten years and showed no signs of a relationship in his future. Didn’t Tim want his son to be happy?
By the time Adam arrived, Tim had mostly calmed down. Adam brought tiramisu for dessert and smiled so sweetly at her when he handed over the box on his lap, Nina almost felt guilty for deceiving him.
“What’s wrong, Mom?” he asked her.
“Nothing,” Nina replied a little tearfully. To her, Adam was still the cutest and sweetest boy in the world, and she couldn’t believe it was so hard for him to find a woman to love him the way she did.
“You better tell him, Nina,” Tim said in a voice that was almost a growl.
Adam’s eyes widened. “Mom, what is it?”
“Honey, I invited Marisa over for dinner tonight.”
Adam frowned. “Marisa?”
“The retarded girl,” Tim spoke up.
“She’s not retarded,” Nina snapped. “Adam, she’s a graduate student. You’ll love her, really.”
“Mom, I...” Adam shook his head. “I really don’t think I’m ready for something like this.”
“Not ready!” Nina blurted out. “Adam, it’s been ten years! If you’re not ready now, then when? For god’s sakes, I just want to see you happy.”
“I am happy.”
“No, you’re not,” Nina said firmly. “I can take one look at you and know you’re not happy. You’re my son. A mother always knows.”
Adam didn’t argue with her. He knew she was right. “So what do you want me to do tonight?”
“Just be yourself,” Nina said. “Marisa will adore you!”
Adam grumbled something inaudible and he wheeled himself into the living room.
Ethel didn’t dare tell Marisa about Nina’s plan until she had securely strapped her daughter into the car. As usual, Ethel had to seatbelt her in, since Marisa’s twisted hands didn’t have the coordination to fasten a seatbelt herself. Ethel lay Marisa’s bony hands on her lap and gave her a quick once-over. Ethel had put on Marisa’s best dress—a lavender dress that was long enough to mostly cover her legs—and she looked as nice as she ever did.
“Why am I getting all dressed up to go to Nina and Tim’s house?” Marisa asked. Ethel could hear the suspicion creeping into her voice.
“Well,” Ethel said as she started the car, “their son is going to be there, so we thought...”
Marisa’s eyes flew open. “Mother, you didn’t...”
“I’m sorry, Marisa. This is for your own good.”
Marisa closed her eyes, trying to summon the strength to endure her mother. When Marisa turned 20, Ethel had decided it was time for her to get out there and start dating. The concept seemed so foreign for Marisa, who never really even had any friends up to that point, aside from her tutors and a female study partner who also had cerebral palsy. Marisa felt horribly self-conscious about her appearance, from her twisted legs to her withered arms to her nonexistent breasts to her misshapen face. Her self-consciousness was worst during her teenage years, but she still got nervous when she had to go out in public. Marisa always sensed that people were staring at her.
But as terrified as Marisa was of the opposite sex, she had to admit that she desperately wanted a boyfriend. Maybe it was a remote possibility, but she saw couples all the time, on the street and on television, and her dream was to have a man who cared about her. She imagined what it might be like to kiss a man on the lips and have him press her against him. But realistically, she knew it was unlikely that she would ever find that kind of passion.
Yet... when Ethel mentioned the Hardings’ son, Marisa felt a brief ray of hope. “So what is he like?” she asked slowly. “I assume he’s disabled.” Marisa would never have been willing to date a man who wasn’t disabled in some way. And conversely, she didn’t want to be with a man who was completely dependent, since Marisa was already unable to take care of herself.
“Well yes, he is,” Ethel replied, encouraged by her daughter’s interest. “He’s a paraplegic.”
“For how long?”
“Nina said over ten years. Since he was in high school.”
Marisa contemplated this information. A paraplegic was likely completely independent and he probably had a decent job if he lived away from home. And since he had been injured over ten years ago, he was probably over feeling sorry for himself. “What’s his name again?” she asked.
“Adam,” Ethel said.
Adam. Adam and Marisa. For a moment, Marisa allowed a smile to color her face. Then she quickly scolded herself for getting her hopes up.
They arrived at the Harding residence and Ethel got Marisa’s wheelchair out of the back. Marisa found herself wondering if Adam used a manual wheelchair or an electric one like herself. If he was a paraplegic, he probably used a manual one. Marisa had always wished she could use a manual chair, but she didn’t have enough control over her arms.
Ethel inspected Marisa in her wheelchair. She straightened out the dress so that it concealed her legs and wiped away the small amount of drool that always seemed to accumulate in the corner of her mouth. “Are you ready?” Ethel asked.
“Mother,” Marisa whined. “Stop making such a big deal.” Although Marisa could feel her own heart pounding.
The Hardings had a ramp leading up to their front door and now Marisa knew why. Ethel knocked on the door and presently the door opened.
Marisa’s first instinct was to be completely taken with Adam Harding. He was good looking, that was undeniable, but there was something also about him that she found almost irresistible. Sitting in his wheelchair, smiling at them both, he seemed so sweet and benign. She looked down at his legs, which were as thin as hers, clothed in khaki slacks, his paralyzed feet carefully positioned in the footrests.
“You must be Ethel,” he said to her mother. “I’m Adam.” He held out his hand to Ethel and she shook it, beaming ear to ear.
Adam turned to Marisa. “You must be Marisa,” he said. He held out his hand to her and she stared at it, her face turning red. Slowly, she raised her curled up right hand and managed to brush it against his, which was the best she could do. Adam’s own face turned a little red. “Oh, I... I’m sorry, I...”
“It’s all right,” Marisa said quickly, looking away from his dark eyes. Now that Marisa could see his reaction to her, she knew she was stupid for getting her hopes up. Adam may have been a paraplegic, but he was obviously very uncomfortable around other disabled people. He could see him grimacing just to look at her. She knew Adam could do a lot better than her and she suspected that he knew it too.
“Uh, won’t you come in?” Adam said.
Ethel winked at her daughter and Marisa knew that her mother wasn’t as perceptive as she was. This was going to be a very uncomfortable evening.
Adam was initially angry at his mother for setting him up like this, but he gradually started to warm up to the idea. Maybe this girl Marisa wouldn’t be so bad. After all, he had never been out with a girl who used a wheelchair.
There was Brynne to think about, of course. Brynne was becoming his first girlfriend and he didn’t think it was such a bad thing. She cared about him a lot, and he sort of cared about her too. She was very beautiful, at least—he couldn’t do any better in that respect. But Adam still got a nagging feeling that something was missing. Maybe dating someone in a wheelchair was just what he needed.
When Adam first saw Marisa in the doorway, he nearly had a heart attack. No matter how low his standards were, there was no way he was taking this girl out. As he tried to avoid looking at her twisted body, he wondered if this was how most able-bodied people saw him. He definitely noticed that people often avoided looking at his own legs.
Nina and Tim were waiting in the living room, Nina grinning ear to ear. Adam couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of guilt. His mother just wanted him to be happy.
“Marisa! Ethel!” Nina exclaimed. “I’m so glad you could both make it! Dinner is almost ready. Won’t you have some cheese and crackers?”
Adam and Marisa both wheeled into the living room while Ethel took a seat on the couch. As Adam glanced over at Marisa’s curled up bony hand, he wondered if she was able to even eat by herself. He reached over and took a cracker.
“So what do you do, Adam?” Ethel asked him.
“I’m a computer programmer,” Adam replied.
“Oh, very impressive,” Ethel said, raising an eyebrow at Marisa.
“Adam does very well,” Nina spoke up. “He works directly under the vice president of the company.”
“No, that was at the last company. I worked there two years ago.”
Nina frowned. “Oh yes... why did you leave there again?”
It was always a mystery to Nina why he left his last job for a worse job. There was no way Adam could tell her about his affair with the boss and how he had been forced to leave. Jessie couldn’t fire him, of course, since she didn’t have any real reason to and revealing the affair would have wrecked her marriage, plus he was the only handicapped programmer the company had. But she managed to make things uncomfortable enough for him that he had eventually wanted to leave. “I just got a little tired of it, I guess,” Adam mumbled.
Nina nodded. “And Marisa, what do you do?”
“I go to school,” Marisa replied. As she spoke a glob of drool came out of her mouth. Her voice was very slow with each word drawn out.
“Marisa studies anthropology,” Ethel told Adam. “She’s almost done with her dissertation.”
“Oh yeah?” Adam said. “What’s it about?”
Marisa snorted a little bit and shrugged.
“It’s a topic that might interest you,” Ethel said. “She’s studying relationship patterns in people with physical disabilities.”
“Really?” Adam stared at her. “What have you found?”
“I’ll let you know when I have a conclusion,” Marisa replied.
The two families sat in awkward silence for a few seconds. Ethel picked up a photo album that was lying on the table. “What’s this?” she asked.
“Ooh!” Nina said. “Those are pictures back when Adam was a baby.”
Adam groaned. “Aw, Mom...”
Ethel turned to the first page. It was a picture of Adam as a newborn, lying in an incubator in the neonatal ICU. “Was there a complication with the birth?”
“I had eclampsia and I delivered eight weeks early,” Nina said. “He couldn’t breathe when he came out and they had to hook him up to a respirator. They said he only had a fifty percent chance of survival.”
Ethel nodded. “I delivered Marisa at only 27 weeks.”
“It was awful,” Nina said. “I had wanted a child so badly and they said if I got pregnant again, I might die. I don’t think I left Adam’s side during the entire time he was in the ICU.”
“You’re lucky,” Ethel replied. “They made me go home at night. I would have liked to stay.”
“They thought Adam might have cerebral palsy too,” Nina said. “Considering he was deprived of oxygen so long when he was born. But he was normal. He walked a little on the late side and I remember being very nervous, but...” Suddenly, Nina seemed to remember Marisa was listening to her story and her face flushed. “But I would have loved him just the same no matter what,” she finished up.
As Adam looked at the picture of himself in the incubator, he couldn’t help but think about how he had beaten the odds 29 years ago. He was supposed to end up like Marisa, but he didn’t. He looked down at his legs and thought about how he had managed to screw it all up anyway. He was still in a wheelchair.
Nina’s eyes were a little teary and Adam knew she was remembering the night of his accident too. He heard later what happened. The idiot doctor who called his parents had told them on the phone that Adam had been in an accident and that there was a good chance he wouldn’t survive. They stayed at his bedside for six hours, waiting for their only child to wake up, knowing he might not ever wake up.
Unexpectedly, Nina got up and threw her arms around Adam in a strong embrace. She kissed him on the forehead and tousled his hair. “I’m glad you came out so well,” she told him.
Adam felt a lump in his throat. “Is dinner ready yet?”
Dinner was a horribly awkward affair. Nina had made place cards which put Adam and Marisa next to each other. Even so, they barely said a word to each other through the entire meal. Adam stared at his food most of the time and occasionally looked up to see a sympathetic expression from his father.
Marisa was able to eat by herself, as it turned out. Ethel put some sort of splint on her hand that kept it steady and kept the fork in place. It was slow and painful to watch, but she could do it with the softer foods. For food like the chicken, her mother had to cut it up and spear the food with the fork for her, but she got it into her mouth by herself. Adam tried to avoid watching her.
Nina was nonplussed that the meal had gone so badly, but she was unwilling to give up. “I have an idea,” Nina said, as the last of the mashed potatoes were being scooped out of the bowl. “Adam, why don’t you and Marisa make yourselves comfortable in the living room while we tidy up in here?”
Adam looked up at his mother. “I could help you clean up, Mom.”
“Don’t be silly,” Nina said sharply.
Nina practically pushed Adam’s chair into the living room. Marisa went more willingly, but she didn’t seem very excited either. Adam watched as Ethel lifted Marisa out of her chair and arranged her on the sofa. Adam stayed in his chair.
“Adam, why don’t you make yourself more comfortable?” Nina suggested, gesturing toward the couch where Marisa was sitting.
“That’s okay,” Adam said quickly.
“Do you need help?” Nina offered.
Adam backed away. “No no, I can manage!”
Nina refused to leave until Adam had transferred out of his wheelchair onto the couch. He made sure to stay a good two feet away from where Marisa was sitting.
When Nina and Ethel left, Adam and Marisa looked around awkwardly. Adam wished he could be anywhere but here. He knew his mother meant well, but this was torture.
“You sit up pretty well,” Marisa said, breaking the silence.
Adam looked over at her. “Huh?”
She blushed. “I mean, you said you’re a paraplegic. You seem to have pretty good control of your stomach muscles.”
It was hard to get used to intelligent words being said with Marisa’s slurred voice. “I couldn’t sit up the first year I was paralyzed,” Adam told her. “I worked on building up the muscles I had left. This couch is slanted back a little, so that makes it easier.”
“Can you sit up on your own?” Marisa asked.
Ordinarily, such questions would have made Adam feel embarrassed, but somehow it was all right coming from Marisa. “No, I can’t,” he said. “Only with back support.”
“Me too,” Marisa said. “Actually, if someone puts me in a sitting position, I can stay there, but I can’t get there on my own.”
“That’s better than me,” Adam said. He smiled at her. He had never really had an earnest conversation with another disabled person about what it was like having a disability. He found it sort of a relief. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to take Marisa to the movies.
“Do you have any deficiencies in your hands?” Marisa asked.
He spread out his hands in front of him. “No, my hands work pretty well, I guess. They’re not affected.”
“You’re lucky. I wish I could use a manual wheelchair.”
Adam laughed. “Are you kidding? I was just thinking that I wish I had an electric one like yours. My biceps get tired as hell. I don’t remember my legs ever getting as tired as my arms do.”
“Yes, but at least they don’t break down,” Marisa pointed out.
“Your chair broke down?”
“Oh, sure,” Marisa replied. “Like if there’s rain, it tends to short out a circuit. And since the chair is much heavier than yours, it’s harder to push.”
Adam looked down at Marisa’s withered hand and realized what an achievement it probably was for her just to be able to operate an electric wheelchair. She probably had a number of years of being pushed around in a manual chair by her parents. He knew that in some ways he was lucky. If his injury had been a little bit higher, he would have lost use of his hands and been just as dependent as Marisa.
“Marisa, about that movie...”
Marisa grimaced. “Don’t bother. I know the score.”
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“I know your parents believe you’re this pathetic loser,” Marisa said. “But I know that’s not what you are. You don’t need a date with me.”
“But I like you,” Adam said. It was partially true. He thought Marisa was a nice person but he wasn’t about to start dating her.
“I don’t know what you think you’re doing,” Marisa said, “but you truly don’t want to go down this path. Look at me, Adam. I’ve never had a date in my life. If you take me out, it’s going to mean something to me. You’re a nice guy. Maybe you think you’re doing the right thing, but you’re just going to wind up hurting me.”
She was right. Adam felt a twinge of guilt. “Okay, forget the movie.”
“And you should tell your parents the truth,” she added. “Your mother worries sick about you.”
“I know,” Adam said. All his mother wanted was to see him happy. “There just... hasn’t been a lot to tell. Until now, that is.”
“What does that mean?” Marisa asked.
“Well, there’s this girl and... things are getting a little serious.”
Marisa smiled at him. “Well, congratulations. What’s her name?”
“Brynne,” Marisa rolled the name over on her tongue. She looked up at Adam sharply. “How old is she?”
Adam frowned at the question. “She’s... she’s twenty-one.”
“And really beautiful, I’ll bet.” Marisa was no longer smiling.
“Well, yeah, she is,” Adam replied.
Marisa stared at Adam long enough to make him squirm. She shook her head. “I think I misjudged you.”
“What... what do you mean?”
“Tell me, Adam,” Marisa said. “How many marriages have you destroyed?”
“You heard me.” Bits of spittle flew out of her mouth as she spoke.
“I... I mean, none...” He bit his lip. “Look, no woman ever left her husband because of me...”
“It doesn’t matter,” Marisa said. “God, I can’t believe I thought you were a nice person. Do you enjoy it? Do you like toying with women? Do you even think of us as people?”
Marisa saw the expression on Adam’s face change to pure anger. She didn’t know why she was saying the things she did. Sometimes she had a tendency to turn to sarcasm as a defense mechanism, but she couldn’t remember ever being as cruel as she was being to Adam right now. Yet somehow it gave her a bit of a thrill to hurt him this way. He deserved it, anyway. She could see in his eyes that everything she was saying was absolutely true.
“I don’t toy with women,” Adam said through clenched teeth.
“What do you call it then?” she retorted.
Adam leaned toward her. There was a menacing expression on his face that sent a twinge of fear down her spine. “You don’t get it, Marisa,” he said.
“What don’t I get?” Marisa said. “Don’t pull that crap with me. You’re a cripple just like me. I know what it’s like.”
“You don’t know what it’s like,” Adam shot back. “You’ve always been a... a twisted freak. I used to be normal. You don’t know what that’s like.”
Her breath caught in her throat and she thought she might choke. Adam’s face was only a foot away from hers. Nobody ever talked to Marisa that way. Everybody always tiptoed around her disability. At that moment, Marisa realized how sheltered a life she had lived.
“You don’t know what it’s like,” Adam went on, drawing ever closer to her, “to be physically close to someone, to be in love with someone...”
Marisa realized that Adam’s lips were only inches from hers. She felt the heat of his breath against her neck. She knew it was crazy, but she was overcome with the urge to pull him towards her. But her arms weren’t coordinated enough to do that, even if she wanted to. “Do you?” she asked.
“Yes,” Adam replied. “I do. I know what it’s fucking like.” With those words, he bridged the gap between them. His soft lips pressed onto hers and they exchanged the slightest brushing of tongues. Marisa felt her body tingle from head to toe, and for a moment, she felt so happy, she thought she might cry. But then Adam pulled away and it was over.
“Maybe now you can understand a little better,” he said quietly. “You don’t have to attack me.”
“I’m sorry,” Marisa said. It was all she could say.
Tim sat in the kitchen sulking while Ethel and Nina washed the dishes together. He was still annoyed at Nina for setting up Adam with Marisa. Maybe Adam had been alone a long time, but Tim was convinced that he could do a lot better. No matter how desperate he was, there was no way Adam could ever be attracted to someone like Marisa. And why shouldn’t Adam be with a woman he was attracted to? It was his god given right as a man.
Nina eventually got tired of Tim’s attitude and sent him to the living room with two glasses of wine. Tim grudgingly took the wine, although he didn’t know how Marisa was going to be able to drink it on her own, and brought it to the living room. But at the entrance to the room, he was stopped in his tracks by the sight of his son’s lips pressed against Marisa’s.
Tim nearly dropped the glasses of wine. He had expected to see Adam and Marisa seated feet apart, barely speaking, just as he had left them. At best, he thought they might be having a conversation. There was no way he had expected this.
At that moment, Tim realized he had been misunderstanding his son for the past ten years. When Tim Harding had been a young man, he had attracted attention much the same way Adam did. Tim might not have been the handsomest guy in the class, but he never lacked for a date (or even two) on Saturday nights, although he had given all that up when he met Nina. Tim always felt that his son took after him in that way and he assumed that once Adam set his mind to it, he’d have no problem meeting women. But this display proved him wrong.
It was now clear to Tim that Adam had been very lonely for the past ten years. Meeting Marisa, a woman who shared his disability, must have seemed like a light at the end of a long tunnel. Maybe Nina was right—maybe Tim was unable to see Adam the way others saw him.
In any case, Tim felt determined not to ruin this for Adam. He wasn’t going to put Marisa down anymore. If Adam liked her and seeing her made him happy, then there was no reason he shouldn’t. After all, Marisa was an intelligent girl and she was probably lonely for companionship just like him. Why discriminate?
Adam and Marisa barely said a word to each other through the rest of the evening. Adam noticed that Marisa kept casting nervous glances in his direction and when she tried to say goodbye to him at the end of the night, she couldn’t even get her tongue to form the words. She was also having a lot more difficulty controlling her wheelchair and her mother had to push her out through the front door after she crashed into the wall twice.
Adam felt guilty about the way he had talked to Marisa. When she had attacked him that way, something inside him had snapped. In reality, he felt sorry for her. He could see how badly she wanted to fall in love and to be loved, but she knew the probability was very low that it would ever happen for her.
His mother was all smiles after Marisa left. She was eagerly planning out their next date, although Adam had a feeling he was never going to see Marisa again. His father was acting strangely though. He made several comments about how Marisa was a nice girl. He even said once that she was “cute”, which really shocked Adam.
“Do you need any help cleaning up, Mom?” Adam asked.
Nina laughed. “Don’t be silly, honey,” she said. Back when he was a kid, Adam probably had more chores around the house than anyone else his age. But when he moved back home after getting out of rehab, his mother never asked him to lift a finger around the house. Even when he offered to help, she always turned him down, as if the idea was ridiculous that he could help her. True, the kitchen sink was too high for him to reach now, but he was perfectly capable of clearing hors d’oerves out of the living room.
“Come sit with me in the other room, Adam,” his father said.
Adam wheeled himself into the living room and parked his chair by the couch where his father was sitting. Tim’s brow was furrowed and he looked like he had something very important to say. Adam hadn’t had a heart to heart talk with his father in a long time and he didn’t feel like having one now.
The last such talk was when Adam was first injured. Tim had set him down to discuss the fact that Adam was now impotent (or so they thought). It had been an awful experience. It was bad enough that he thought he couldn’t have sex, but to have to sit down and discuss it with his father was excruciating. He still remembered his father’s words: Son, I know what the doctor told you. But just because you can’t... I mean, I’m a man and I know how important it is to be able to... but the thing is, there are other ways to make a woman happy. A lot of women... they don’t even like having sex that much. And you can always adopt kids. I know it seems like the end of the world right now, but…
And nothing his father said made him feel any better. He felt that same awkwardness now and he sensed there was another speech coming on.
“I was wrong about Marisa,” Tim said. “She’s a really nice girl.”
Adam shrugged. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“I think... she’s very pretty,” Tim said.
Adam frowned. “Uh... yeah. Sure.”
“I didn’t mean the things I said before,” Tim added. “I think, if you want to take her out, I think she’s a great catch.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready for that,” Adam lied.
Tim sighed loudly and leaned forward. “Adam, I... I happened to see you kissing Marisa before. You don’t need to feel embarrassed. If you like her, you should go out with her.”
Adam groaned inwardly. Great, this was just what he needed. “Dad, I...”
“And you won’t have to worry about sex with her either,” Tim said. “Because she’s... you know, like you.”
Adam closed his eyes. Maybe Marisa was right. Maybe it was time to stop torturing his parents and tell them the truth. Well, maybe not the whole truth, but he could at least tell them that he had a girlfriend.
Then again, if he told them that, they’d surely want to meet Brynne. And once they met her, they’d surely be suspicious. They’d think she was using him or something like that. After all, how could he get a beautiful girl like that? He didn’t even believe it himself sometimes.
“Dad, it’s not what you think,” Adam said. “The thing is, I’ve... sort of been seeing someone.”
“Really?” Tim’s eyes lit up.
“Yeah,” Adam admitted.
“I’m so happy to hear that,” Tim said. Adam saw his father’s eyes fill with tears and he felt a stab of guilt. His parents just wanted him to be happy. “Who is she?”
“She’s a secretary at work,” Adam said. “Her name is Brynne.”
Adam could see that his father wanted to ask to meet her, but he was biting his tongue. “Your mother will be really thrilled,” Tim said.
“I didn’t want to say anything,” Adam explained, “because I didn’t want you to be disappointed if... if it doesn’t work out.”
Tim lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry your mother and I put so much pressure on you to meet someone. We just want you to be happy.”
“I know,” Adam said. “I’m trying.”
To be continued....