Did I Mention I Miss You? by Estelle Maskame

  “Does Jamie call him that too?”

  “No. Just Chase.” I pause for a second, smiling as I add, “And me, unfortunately. But I didn’t get a choice.”

  Tyler doesn’t laugh. Instead, he’s frowning as he studies Chase, like he can’t fathom the idea of him viewing my dad, the moron that is David Munro, as a father figure. He’s not much of a role model.

  “I spoke to your mom about it, like, forever ago,” I whisper. I take a step closer to Tyler, and I mentally convince myself that it’s only so he can hear me better. “She told me that Chase doesn’t remember your dad much, you know, because he was so young when your dad got . . . Yeah.” I swallow, glancing sideways up at Tyler to ensure I’m not making him uncomfortable, but he’s only looking back down at me with keen interest as he listens, so I continue. “She said that it makes sense for Chase to latch onto my dad. I don’t know. I guess she’s right.”

  “I guess,” he agrees.

  Ahead of us, Dad sharply clears his throat. He’s stopped walking, has turned around, and is fixing me with another of his infamous glares. “Eden,” he says. “A word.”

  Ella pauses too, trying to catch Dad’s eye, as though she’s wondering what the hell this is about. I don’t know either, but I do know that it’s better to keep the peace, so I walk over to him.


  He doesn’t answer. He only nods at Ella, communicating with her via strained looks and tight-lipped smiles that mean: Don’t wait up. So she doesn’t, and everyone else takes the hint, even Tyler, and they start to walk off again in search of Ambrosia. Dad’s attention focuses mostly on Tyler as he brushes past us, and Tyler’s lingers mostly on the sidewalk, as though if he were to even so much as to glance up at me out of the corner of his eye, Dad would charge him.

  It’s not until the four of them are several yards ahead of us that it occurs to me that maybe this is Dad’s attempt at apologizing for last night, or maybe for everything. This could finally be it, the moment I hear him say: “Hey, Eden, I’ve been a pretty shitty father, but I’m sorry.”

  I look up at him. He hasn’t shaved this morning, because he never shaves on weekends. His hair is becoming predominantly gray, with very few dark patches remaining. I can’t remember how old he is. “What?” I ask again.

  “Nothing,” Dad says. Nothing. “Let’s go.”

  I sigh so loudly that the woman walking by glances at me with concern. I feel disappointed. I don’t desperately want an apology from Dad, but it would be nice to have one, to know that he realizes where he’s gone wrong. But that’ll never happen, because Dad’s too stubborn to admit that he’s not exactly the father of the year. “Are you kidding me?” I splutter, my mouth agape. “Nothing?”

  Dad stops walking off and turns back around, narrowing his hazel eyes down at me. “What were you doing?”

  “What?” My shoulders sink and I take a minute to breathe deeply as I stare at him, confused.

  “Why were you talking to him?”

  “Tyler?” His silence is agreement. “Are you seriously kidding me, Dad?”

  He folds his arms across his chest and waits, tapping his foot against the sidewalk. “Well?”

  Now he’s just being ridiculous, and it’s completely unnecessary. I could laugh at how ridiculous he is, but I keep my cool and act nonchalant instead. “I was talking to him because he’s my stepbrother,” I state in monotone. “You know, family. And I know it’s a bizarre custom to you, but these days people actually talk to their family.”

  I walk straight past him, fighting the urge to barge him out of the way with my shoulder, and keep a safe distance between us as I speed-walk to catch up with Ella and the guys. In an effort to defy Dad, I fall into step right by Tyler’s side. I keep quiet, though, and Tyler doesn’t ask any questions, and soon Dad has joined us all again, and then that same old silence is back again until Ella says, “I think the concierge said it was this way.”

  We turn onto K Street, which is beautiful under the morning sun and lined with trees. Tracks for a light-rail system decorate the road, and the sidewalks aren’t flooded with tourists the way they are in LA, maybe because it’s early Saturday morning or maybe because Sacramento is boring as hell.

  Ambrosia is only a minute or so down the street, right on the corner of the block, with huge windows that face out over an outdoor patio area and the cathedral on the opposite side of the street. Ella approves, so we head inside.

  It’s already busy, with a line that extends almost straight back to the door, so once they’ve memorized the order for us all, Dad and Ella send us off to claim a couple tables that are free over by the windows. Chase has insisted that he gets three chocolate croissants.

  The four of us settle down. Jamie still has his earphones in. His music is so loud that I can make out which band he’s listening to. Tyler has pulled the two tables together, joining them up, making room for all six of us. I’m drumming my fingers along my thigh.

  “Do you really think they’re gonna get me three?” Chase asks after a minute. He’s staring longingly over his shoulder to the counter, where Dad and Ella are talking to each other in hushed voices, leaning in close to one another while they wait in line. I bet they’re arguing, but because they have the common decency not to create a scene, they’re keeping their voices low and discreet.

  “I doubt it,” Tyler says.

  Jamie abruptly stands then, his chair screeching against the floor as he pushes himself away from the table. He yanks his earphones out and turns for the door.

  “Where are you going?” Tyler asks, raising his voice. He sounds authoritative, which is weird, because Tyler’s usually the one challenging authority around here.

  “Jen’s calling,” Jamie mutters, glaring back at him over his shoulder, and then he presses his phone to his ear and disappears outside. I watch him through the windows. Jamie never seems to talk these days without being aggressive. He never seems to smile without it being sarcastic. He never seems happy.

  I divert my eyes back to Tyler. He has a dumbfounded look on his face as he glances between Jamie outside on the patio and Dad and Ella over by the counter, still presumably arguing. He looks at me for an explanation. “What the hell happened?”

  “We happened,” I say. My voice is flat and emotionless.

  I’ve had an entire year to accept it, to understand that the reason this family is so shattered is because of us. Tyler’s only had a couple days, and it seems he’s stuck in the denial stage. He’s trying so desperately to convince himself that none of this is really because of us, when the harsh reality is that this is entirely because of us.

  “I’m gonna talk to your dad,” he says. It’s the last thing I expected to hear him say.


  “To clear the air,” he says. Chase is listening and Tyler notices, so he says nothing more and smiles at Chase instead. “So,” Tyler says, “eighth grade. Ready for it?”

  Chase’s face falls. “I’m gonna be a freshman.”

  “Shit, already?” Tyler blinks. In the two years that he’s been gone, a year in New York and a year in Portland, it’s clear that he’s lost track of time.

  Chase doesn’t appreciate the mistake. He folds his arms dramatically across his chest and angles his body away from Tyler, apparently too deeply wounded to look at him.

  “C’mon, Tyler,” I say teasingly, tilting my head down and looking up at him in a patronizing manner from beneath my eyelashes. “You should really keep up to date. I’m nineteen, by the way.” Slowly, my lips curve into a smile. “Just in case you forgot.”

  “Alright, alright,” he says, shaking his head, but he’s trying not to laugh. He sits up in his chair and reaches across the table, pulling a petal from the flower centerpiece and flicking it toward me.

  When he sinks back against his chair, he’s looking back across the table at me the way he used to: eyes smoldering so intensely that they could bring me to my knees, smile so natural that it’s hard to believe h
e once faked it.

  I enclose my fist around the petal before anyone notices. I mouth Shh to Chase, but it’s not the flower I’m telling him to keep quiet about.


  Surprisingly, no one tries to kill each other over breakfast.

  Dad and Ella quit their arguing and act normal, as though they’re as happy as they’ve ever been, like their lives are absolutely perfect. Chase fills the dull conversation with witty remarks while devouring all three of his croissants. Jamie doesn’t sit with his earphones in. I’m even the first to finish eating for once, mostly because I’m still pretty hungry after missing out on dinner last night, but also because I don’t feel so self-conscious today. I feel fine.

  So, while everyone else finishes up, I pull out my phone. Dad shoots me a disapproving look before I’ve even typed in my passcode. He hates having phones at the table, but I hate him, so I give him a tight smile and then return to my screen.

  I text both Mom and Rachael a summary of the last twenty-four hours. I even send my roommate from college a text asking how her summer’s going. Most likely much better than mine is. And after that, it slowly dawns on me that I’ve got zero people left to message. My contact list is full of names, yet I don’t feel close to any of them. I scroll up and down, back and forth, up and down, back and forth. I eventually send Emily a text, because I’m pretty sure she’s the only person left on my list who doesn’t hate me. I spent an entire month in New York with her last summer, and occasionally we check in with one another to see how we’re doing.

  what’s up stranger? i hope england isnt so bad these days

  No one is replying. I lock my phone and unlock it again. Still no new messages. I switch to Twitter instead, and after only a minute I’m wondering why I follow so many people that I’ve never said a single word to in my life. Yet I slowly come across recent updates from those I know all too well, and I feel a strange sense of longing for them all, despite all of the bad things that have happened over the past few years.

  @dean_carter1: last couple months at the garage and then im off to Berkeley. Crazy!!

  Attached is a picture of Dean in his jumpsuit, covered in grease, his dad by his side as they lean against a beat-up Porsche. I favorite it.

  @x_tifff: thinking of getting my hair restyled.. what do u guys think?

  I haven’t seen Tiffani in forever. I favorite it.

  @x_rachael94: why is desperate housewives so addictive?

  She’s still watching it? I favorite it.

  @meghan_94_x: friday night dates with jared are the best

  I’m jealous of how easy it is for them. I favorite it.

  @jakemaxwell94: I AM SO DRUNK!!!!!1!

  It was posted at 3:21AM. I favorite it.

  I search for Tyler and pull up his account. I’ve done this far too often, and still nothing has changed. His last update was June last year.

  I glance up from my screen. Tyler’s sitting directly opposite me, silently eating the rest of his granola and listening to Ella as she suggests that we visit the Capitol building. He pauses when he notices me watching, raising an eyebrow questioningly.

  Zero updates. Not a single post. Complete silence.

  I wonder how he’s spent the past year. What he’s thought about. How he’s spent his days. Who he’s spoken to. I wonder if he ever felt alone.

  I gently shake my head back at him as though to say Nothing, and then I drop my eyes back down to my phone. I hate the way things are.

  Tyler clears his throat, and when I don’t look back up, I feel him nudge my foot under the table. My eyes flicker up to meet his. He’s pushed his food away and now he’s resting his elbows on the table, his hands interlocked. Slowly, he smiles, but it’s so gradual that I hardly even notice at first. And then he turns toward my dad.

  “Dave,” he says.

  Dad’s eyes flash over immediately. The conversation about him upgrading to a new car is cut short, and everyone is quiet, surprised at not only the fact that Tyler has suddenly spoken, but also that he has spoken to Dad, of all people. And, of course, Dad can’t bring himself to reply, so all Tyler receives is a strong look of disdain.

  That doesn’t throw him off. He swallows, and I put away my phone to concentrate, because I’m curious as to how exactly Tyler is planning to “clear the air”. The first words to leave his lips are, “Can we talk outside for a second?” He nods to the door and stands.

  “We can talk right here,” Dad says. He doesn’t move an inch, only remains in his chair, and his eyebrows pull together in the ugliest of ways. There’s caution written all over his face, because, knowing Dad, right now he’ll be assuming that Tyler’s intentions are malicious.

  “Okay,” says Tyler. He grabs his chair and moves around the table, placing it back down in between Ella and Dad, all eyes on him as he does so. It’s extremely rare for Tyler and Dad to talk, and especially rare for either of them to want to.

  Tyler straddles the chair and keeps his eyes trained on Dad in a way that is friendly yet firm. “So,” he says, and then pauses for a second as though he’s mentally stringing together the words he wants to say, all while we watch him closely, Ella more so than the rest of us. “So,” he says again, “I just wanted to apologize.”

  “Apologize?” Dad repeats. The word sounds foreign on his tongue, because he never, ever apologizes for anything. His eyes slowly drift to Ella, as though this is her doing, but she widens her eyes and shrugs back at him, although her face has lit up with relief. He looks at Tyler again.

  “Yeah, apologize,” Tyler says, and then he grips the back of the chair and leans back a little, sighing. I’m listening while holding my breath, because an apology is the last thing I expected Tyler to be giving Dad. It should be the other way around. “I know I wasn’t the easiest kid to deal with,” he starts, “and I know I put you through hell with the constant arguing and all the sneaking out and all the drinking. I was a total jerk, so I get why you weren’t exactly my biggest fan. But you’ve got to give me some credit. I graduated. I moved across the country. I did the tour. I got my shit together. I’m nothing like the kid you first met five years ago.” He hesitates, as though he’s nervous, his eyes catching mine for a split second. “And about Eden,” he murmurs, and Dad almost chokes. “I get it. I seriously fucking do, but there’s nothing I can do now to change the fact that it happened. It’s just the way it was, and you can call us crazy, and maybe we were, but Dave, you’ve seriously got to drop it. It’s over, and you’re going to drive yourself insane if you stay pissed like this.” I hear Ella exhale each time Tyler curses. “So how about a fresh start?” Leaning over the back of the chair, he extends his hand to Dad. “What do you say?”

  Ella looks elated. Finally, she’s most likely thinking. Finally we are on the road to recovery. I disagree, because I know for a fact that Tyler isn’t telling Dad the entire truth. Just yesterday he was asking me again to go to Portland with him, to fix things between us, to give him a second chance, to get wrapped up in this mess all over again. And as badly as I have longed for closure this past year, suddenly I find myself liking the idea of unfinished business and the hope of possibility.

  It’s over, Tyler’s telling Dad.

  We’re done, I’ve told Tyler.

  But maybe it’s not.

  Maybe we’re not.

  My heart lunges halfway down my ribcage at the thought of it and it quickly brings me back to reality. I blink a couple times, slightly dazed, and try to focus on Dad.

  He’s staring at Tyler’s outstretched hand as though he’s never seen flesh before. His glare is contemptuous, and when he exchanges glances with Ella, she’s desperately urging him on with a nod of encouragement. This is what she wanted this weekend to be about—apologies and forgiveness and the rekindling of relationships.

  But Dad isn’t on the same page, because rather than manning up and shaking Tyler’s hand, he leans back in his chair and folds his arms tightly across his chest before angling his body slightly away.
“If we’re all done here, we should make a move.”

  You asshole, I think. The words are on the tip of my tongue and I am so close to screaming them in the middle of this café. I have to grip the base of my chair with one hand and cover my lips with the other in order to restrain myself.

  “David,” Ella hisses. She looks absolutely stunned and undeniably furious. The hope of mending things has quickly disappeared, because not only is Dad too stubborn to give out apologies, but also to accept them. Nothing around here is ever going to change unless he changes first.

  “I’ll be outside,” Dad says, voice gruff. He pushes his chair back from the table, his eyes never quite meeting Tyler’s, and strides toward the door. We watch him through the huge windows as he drops down into a chair out on the patio, slumping back against it and facing the cathedral.

  Inside, none of us say anything. Tyler slowly drops his hand and turns around toward us all, giving us a minute shrug. He’s definitely the bigger person, and Dad is definitely the moron. Even Jamie is quiet, although I can’t tell whose side he’s on. He’s usually on Dad’s, but I get the feeling that today that isn’t the case.

  “Unbelievable,” Ella murmurs, shaking her head in disbelief. She’s staring out the windows at Dad, her lips forming a perfect frown, and when she glances back over to the rest of us, it’s clear she’s more pissed off than upset. “Stay here,” she says. Now her voice is stern, and none of us say a word as she stands. There’s a moment of hesitation before she leaves, when she clasps Tyler’s face in both her hands and plants a quick kiss against his hair. “Proud of you,” she whispers, and then squeezes his shoulder and makes for the door.

  The four of us are silent as we watch her through the windows. She stands in front of Dad, glaring down at him, her hands on her hips as she no doubt asks what the hell he’s playing at. Dad gets to his feet and the aggressive hand gestures begin, the frustrated head-shaking and the angry eye-rolls, and it doesn’t take long for Ella to catch us all watching very closely. She reaches for Dad’s elbow and tugs him away, around the corner, out of view. It’s as if they believe that if they don’t argue in front of us, then it’s as though the argument hasn’t happened at all. Yet we all know it has, each and every time.

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