He held something behind his back, where Lisa couldn’t see it. He was frowning, moving a little side to side, loose like an athlete, in case she tried to get around him. He was not normally a playful man, never the kind of man people call boyish, and so his daughter was confused. Was what he had for her good or bad?
He was much taller than she was then, although later she would realize she had grown to the same not so startling height, and he was broad shouldered. In pictures from his childhood, he was slight, almost sprite like with his dark curls and dark eyes but as a young man he had settled into this physicality, this weight and thickness.
She would not challenge him, would not snatch at the air, reaching for whatever he had. Instead, she watched his face. They were in the entry hall, the shadowy place between the brightness of the sky outside and rooms of the house designed to keep the light and heat out. She thought it was a letter but she wasn’t sure.
Suddenly, he was angry.
She felt afraid, the kind of afraid that comes in dreams and that kind of paralysis, but she would not remember it. Once he was dead what point was there in that? She would not recall his anger or her own although she might wonder, when she was wondering what was wrong with her, if she had ever wished him dead.
He stopped his side to side movement and stood still. He told her she was thoughtless, unable to see anything through the eyes of another. He said, “I know what it’s like to think you’re smarter than everyone else.”
She was not quite twelve. The fact of others had only recently begun to occur to her.
He told her she had no respect for what he and her mother had given her, the opportunity they had given her to be part of a bigger world.
She blinked. It was true to her that the world they lived in, the endless sky and the stories of unfamiliar spirits in the rocks and hills, wasn’t like the world she knew from her cousins down in Phoenix. She felt it, as he named it, like wind in the stillness of the house. There may have been the sound of it, rushing over the door frame, crying at the windows. Later she didn’t recall any of that.
He spun the big white envelope at her, like a Frisbee and she caught it as it touched her just below the ribs. “Go on then. I give up on you. You’re just like everyone else, just as small minded, just as afraid of what you don’t know. Turn your back on us. You’ll see what it’s like.”
It was the envelope from the school, of course. The forms, the brochures, the list of what to pack, when to appear, what she would be studying. She took it into her room, the room she shared with Kate, and spread out the contents on her bed. This might have been the moment, when she imagined making new friends at school and it came to her for no reason that they might like her right away, if they thought her father was dead.