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We sat at the kitchen table with a box of pizza between us. I felt nauseous and I didn’t know if it was from the grease or if it was due to the fact that this was the first time I’ve eaten dinner with my father.
My father cleared his throat and looked at me. I looked down at my plate. I poked my finger into my slice of pizza and watched the grease roll off the sides.
He cleared his throat again and said, “So…how is school?”
“Fine,” I said, still playing with my pizza.
“Your mom told me you’re taking accelerated chemistry,” he said. “How are you liking that?”
I tied my napkin into a knot. “It’s good,” I replied.
My father scooted his chair closer to the table. The legs of the chair scraped loudly against the floor.
He cleared his throat for a third time and said, “We should do this more often, you know, have dinner together.”
Still tying my napkin, I said, “Yeah, definitely.” The words came out in a bored voice.
Neither of us said anything for the five minutes that followed. All I heard was the slight buzzing of the heater and my own breathing.
“You know I didn’t want any of this to happen,” he finally said. “I love you, son, and I hope you know that.”
His voice was shaking as he talked. I looked up at him and saw that his eyes were glossy.
“I know, dad,” I said.