“When your father and I met, thirty-three years ago, he was a very shy man,” Lena began. “He had difficulty talking to people, he felt very out of place around people he did not know. Even those he knew he spent little time with, for fear of pushing them away. It was only through my persistence in pursuing him that he finally relented with me and let me inside.”
Chasey smiled at that image of her father. She never would have guessed that the jovial, social man she had known all her life had been so reserved.
“I had to be very patient with him,” continued Lena. “I saw something in him that I don’t think even he himself realized was there.”
“What was it, mother?” asked Chasey with a smile. “What did you see in this backward man who became my father?”
Lena looked into her daughter’s eyes. “I saw you.”
Chasey didn’t understand. She thought she did, and that her mother meant that she saw them getting married and having a child. Having a child who, in hindsight, looked just like Chasey. But that’s not what her mother meant.
“Whenever I looked at his face, I saw beyond the skin that covered his bones. I saw someone trying to get out, as if they were trapped inside a prison and needed help. It did frighten me at first, but I didn’t let my discomfort show, and I was able to see him again. But the more time we spent together, the clearer the image became until I could see your very face, over thirty years ago, imprinted on his own, pressing to get out.”
Lena paused a moment, lost in reflections of those days of old. She continued.
“When finally we married, you were conceived from our lovemaking right away. It was most of the next year before you were born and once you entered this world, your father’s face no longer showed a person trying to escape. His features returned.”
“Until one day, shortly after your sixth birthday. Then the image returned.”