When I first met her, I was ten years old and my father was afraid.
In all my childhood he’d never seemed a particularly nervous man, but that morning sweat beaded his forehead and he kept snapping with a voice as brittle as an icicle about to crack.
I was forced into a stiff, starched white dress which I loathed bitterly, and a shiny new pair of impractical white shoes with buckles and small pearls on the side. I remember the shoes because they pinched my toes and made it difficult to run.
My father smoothed my blonde hair back from my face and said he was sorry – he never said he was sorry. Since that day, I’ve never heard him apologize for anything again.
That day, he said it thirteen times. I counted.