All right, I lied. I said I was fine, after my dad left. Or at least I implied that I’d had a healthy reaction, and compared to my brother and sister, I guess that’s probably true, but that’s not the whole story and I’d be lying if I let you think it was. I was devastated—of course I was, what girl wouldn’t be, once her dad left? Not just left her mother but her? Of course I was. It just took me a while to realize because of how my brain had been rewiring itself. And when it did come, it came in a form that took me a while to associate with my father, or with grief, even though it shouldn’t have.
Of course it was a guy.
It’s not like you think, though—well, no, it was, just not… yet. Not like that. It was later, seventh grade, middle of middle school. I’d been having visions for a while about the man I was going to marry—I mean, not marry, maybe, I don’t know. I haven’t seen that part. But in some of them, it feels like I’m married to him. I guess. The only trouble is, I never see his face. I mean, that’s not the only trouble, of course—there’s also the fact that I’m having goddamn premonitions in the first place, and not all of them are rice and tinsel.
I couldn’t see his face, though, and that was a problem—although I could see his hair.
“What’s wrong with gingers?” Kayla couldn’t help but ask, being a redhead herself.
“Well, nothing, if you’re a girl,” I assured her. “But on guys, it’s just, I don’t know…” I was prejudiced. I’ll admit it. Even at the time, I knew it was wrong, and even at the time I knew there’d be a time when I’d know it was wrong, I just wasn’t there yet, it just seemed weird.
It seemed even weirder, though, when I actually met the guy. He flew under my radar for a while—I had a tendency (I’m sure you’ll understand) to instantly notice any guy in my general vicinity who had that particular hair color, but Angus George must’ve felt the same way about read-headed males I did, because his hair was jet-black when I met him, giving that much more levity to his freckled skin, whcih I guess should’ve been a dead giveaway, too. It wasn’t till I’d known him a couple of weeks, talked to him, wondered if his low-key aggression was his awkward-goth way of flirting with me, that I noticed his scalp bleeding. Not that it really was, but his roots were coming in and their shade of red was terrifying. Especially to me.
“Are you a ginger?” I blurted out, out of the blue.
“No!” he said, defensive even though I soon discovred he’d never heard the term—how could he never have heard it before, if he was one? Instantly, of course, my attitide softened toward him. I started talking to him, started to convince myself that yes, he was the one for me, not just any ginger, but my ginger, the clove I would grind up to add spice to the recipe of my existence as I saw it. Never mind that he was so damaged, never mind he identified as a thug, he would be my thug, the Angus of my angst and I would shape him into something better.
“He’s not the one for you,” Kayla kept telling me, though. She was my best friend, still, and I trusted her judgment, but only to a point. Only with my head, my gut—my chest and especially like my midriff liked this guy so much, thought I did anyway, knew what to do with him—
“He’s not the one for you, though.”
I knew she was right. He wasn’t Mr. Right, but he was Mr. Right-on-top-of-me—not literally, you perv. I was like twelve, maybe fourteen by the end of it, and still convinced I was not my sister. He was right there, target practice, even after Kayla wasn’t.
I don’t know if my father leaving had anything to do with my stuff with Angus, but it sure feels better having someone else to blame, and why shouldn’t I? Especially when that someone else is my piece of shit father who skipped out right when I was hitting puberty and needing him most to show me what an idiot looks like.