Lost In HimBy: Susan Ward
The Parker Series Book 1
At eighteen I could not see the future. None of us can. What I didn’t know at eighteen is that none of us really see the present. It is full of random moments and others we think significant, but we can’t tell at the time, not really, which is which.
People would have stared at my father even if he had not been famous. He is just that kind of man, but it has taken me until the age of eighteen to understand that. In my younger years, when I hated Jack in fleeting spurts, I thought fame was like a suit; he could take it off for me if he wanted to. Now I know better than to have childish expectations of what my father can or can’t do for me. Life with Jack is what it is. It is enough that he showed tonight, even if he did miss nearly the entire senior class spring recital.
I carefully conceal myself in the stage curtains as I watch Jack slipping into the auditorium and fading back into his customary seat in the far left corner. I can feel him in the darkened theater though I can only make out the hazy detail of his shape with my eyes.
Any other parent making that entrance would have had no impact on the audience. It is soundless. But my father is Jackson Parker, an icon of the sixties, forever part of the music and voice of a generation, and the entire chemistry of the room instantly alters.
Rene drops her chin on my shoulder as she stares out at the audience. “So, Jack did come,” she says. She frees my fingers from the shabby velvet and tosses a harsh glare at the curtains, their age-beaten elegance a thing she finds preposterous since the private Catholic boarding school we reside at costs a small fortune in tuition each year. The shabbiness of the facility she is certain is nothing more than deliberate proletarian punishment for children of non-proletarian families. “He said he would come and actually showed. Chalk one up for team Jack. That’s more than my dad ever does. Some girls just don’t know when they are lucky. It could be worse, Chrissie. Your dad could be my dad.”
Criticism with a joke chaser: a typical Rene-ism that might have made me laugh if it didn’t remind me that even Rene didn’t fully get me at times. In fairness, I don’t always get myself. I like my dad. I really do. Everyone likes Jack, but the first emotion I always feel when I see my father is an intense desperation for him to leave.
I brush at the little balls of dust on the formerly flawless black of my dress. “I should have practiced more.”
Rene gives me the look. “Practiced more? That’s all you’ve done since your audition for Juilliard was scheduled. You couldn’t have practiced more if you tried. Besides, I don’t think it’s possible for you to disappoint Jack.”
Another nails on the chalkboard moment: Jack. I hate when my friends call my dad Jack, the easy familiarity they manage with him when my own relationship with my father has never been anything close to easy.
As I wait for the music director to introduce me, icy nerve bands tighten my stomach. It is so stupid to want the floor to swallow me whole, but for some reason since scheduling my audition for Juilliard I have worked into my mind the notion that my future would be foretold by this performance. I’ve never known what I want to do with my life and the decision to audition for Juilliard seems the first decision I’ve made about who I am and who I want to be.
“Please, help me welcome our final performance tonight, our featured soloist, Miss Christian Parker, who we hope will soon depart us for Juilliard.” I nearly miss my introduction and, after hearing it, I wish I had. It seems an impossible to fulfill expectation since I know that my talent isn’t Juilliard gifted standard.
Focus. Sit on chair. Adjust instrument. Nod. Breathe, Chrissie, breathe. I start to move the bow and my fingers in a sheltering cocoon of Hayden’s Cello Concerto No. Two in D Major.
The music finishes and the music director comes to my chair offering his hand. I bow amid the thundering applause as Jack slips quietly from the theater before the ovation dies down. In and out of my world like a shooting star. This shooting star I know where to find next. It is a familiar routine to minimize the bullshit of other parents interfering in our father-daughter time. Exit scene left, reappear next scene in the privacy of my dorm room.