Brian's attempt to woo Jane in chapter 20
‘Do you and your dad talk about your mum?’ Jane asked. She usually avoided emotional conversations, but since he’d opened up to her Jane had felt guilty that she hadn’t asked Brian anything more about it. She wondered how someone could grow up so balanced with such a shadow lurking in their past.
Brian looked surprised by the question, but he was open to it. ‘When I was growing up … but not so much now,’ he replied. ‘I think it upsets him to talk about her.’
‘But he used to …,’ Jane said, challenging Brian’s assumption.
‘He had this thing about me not remembering her. It really hurt him, so he’d talk about her. He’d pull out photos every few weeks from when she was alive and talk about what we’d done, when the photo was taken … he talk about their routines, about things we did together, anything to keep her alive in the house and to jog my memory. But nothing. He hated the fact I couldn’t remember her, it made him so desolate. I wanted to bring him some peace, so eventually I lied.’
‘Yeah, you know … just little lies, like, I picked up on their routine: mum took me to school, he picked me up, so I’d tell him “I remember this one time on the way to school and mum and I saw this cat …” – just invent some cute little incident that he couldn’t verify. His eyes sparkled every time. That was all I needed to keep going. I kept lying and eventually we stopped talking about her.’
‘Do you miss her?’
‘How can you miss what you don’t remember? That’s what you’d think, wouldn’t you? But, yeah, I think about her every day. It’s like, I know my dad so well, I look at myself and I see him in what I look like and what I do, but then there’s this bunch of stuff about me, that I guess comes from her, but I just don’t know. I know who I am and yet half of me is missing … But I’m grateful for what I have. My dad is awesome. Some people have horrible, destructive parents, that mess them up. All I’ve ever had is love.’
Jane wondered what that would feel like.