From my seat on the couch, I watched Ashley come bounding down the stair steps, making enough noise to rouse the dead. I didn’t think a hundred pound girl could make that much noise. Her older and bigger brothers on the football team were lighter on their feet than her. Still, her exuberance was catchy, but I had to try and fight it off this morning, if I could. We had a rather…delicatematter… to discuss.
It wasn’t helping that she had on those tight little sleeping pants, the kind that are made of super thin cotton material. She also wore a very tight long-sleeve T-shirt; obviously, she should’ve gotten rid of it years ago. But she wouldn’t give up her Spiderman shirt for anyone, even if it was so thin that you could see the faint outlines of her nipples when they were just resting.
“Good morning Daddy!” she kissed me lightly on the cheek. “Still in that crappy old robe, I see!”
“Morning, Punkins. Coffee’s hot, and there’s muffins on the counter.”
“Mmmm that’s what woke me up!”
She puttered around for a little bit making her coffee and buttering her blueberry muffins.
“And I happen to like this robe. It’s got a lot of family history on it,” I joked half-heartedly, trying to postpone the inevitable.
She just shook her head at me as she munched her breakfast.
“Dad, I hope you didn’t have too many of these muffins. You know they have gluten in them. Hey, where is everybody?”
I sighed quietly.We were getting close. How much longer can I put this off?
“Mom just left with Marj; they went to that antique swap meet and will have lunch after. The boys have a double-header over in Claremont, sooo, it’s just us for a good part of the day.”
“Oh no! What are we going to do all day?” She laughed.
You’ll probably be sitting on your butt in your room, on restriction for the next five years.
With a big sigh, I put my tablet down, then I motioned her to the couch.
“Ash, Ashley. Come sit down, we’ve got to talk.”
“Okay Jeremy,” she replied in a deep voice, trying to mimic me. She continued the joke, “What’s the trouble, Sir. Problems with your kids?”
“Ashley, this isn’t funny. It’s very serious.”
To be fair, many times I would start a conversation like this, then inform her I had concert tickets that I didn’t know what to do with. So she was used to me goofing around.
She still was using her imitating-dad voice. I cocked my head at her and didn’t smile.
“Sorry Daddy,” she responded in her regular voice. She sat down on the couch next to me. “What’s going on?”
Well, here goes nothing.
“Mr. Patton called me late Thursday afternoon. You know Mr. Patton?”
“Yes Daddy, he’s the principal. Sooo…”
“Yeah. So. He said… Ashley this isn’t easy for me.”
I wrung my hands, I really didn’t know where to start.
“Daddy, just say it and we will deal with it.”
I looked at her. For someone who just turned eighteen, sometimes she shows a lot of maturity.
“Alright then. Mr. Patton said that you were behind the drug store, after school.”
I watched her stiffen, and her eyes widen. So, it’s true, I thought. Her body language gave her away; there would be no way for her to lie her way out of this now.
“He said… Jesus… he said you were there with three boys who… all had their pants down.”
“And, of course, I didn’t believe him. Not my little girl! She isn’t a slut like that!”
“So then he goes on to say that the girl, Samantha, was it? I guess she’s the bitch who ratted you out. Anyway, This bitch shows him a video where you can see the boys, and a girl, with long blonde hair and a blue and gold ribbon tied in it, on her knees in front of one of them. She has her hands on his hips and her head is bobbing back and forth.”
Ashley sank back into the couch, red-faced and ashamed.
“And you can hear one of those little jack-asses holler ‘Ashley, come suck mine when you’re done with Jason’s’.”
I glared at her.
“Do you have even the slightest bit of comprehension? The slightest notion of how embarrassing this is? To me? To our family? And how dangerous this is to you?”
“Daddy, we can talk about this.”
“So you don’t even deny it?”
She looked at me.
“Daddy, we promised we could be open and honest with each other. Remember you made that promise to me: I will be honest with you and you will be honest with me. Remember?”
I hung my head. I guess I knew it was true, deep down. But I wanted there to be some reason that it could be someone else, some other Ashley. But, no. It was my daughter on the little video.
“Yeah, so what! I’mhonestlyvery concerned about you being the Ridgemont High school slut!”
“I’m not the school slut, Daddy! These were my friends… wait, is this why you were avoiding me yesterday?”
“Yeah… I didn’t want to tell your mother. It would break her heart. Kinda like mine is breaking right now. Can you imagine if Mom picked up that call?”
“Daddy…” she reached over to hold my hand. She squeezed it tightly, I didn’t respond.
“Daddy these are my friends, I wasn’t blowing them or… sucking them off.”
“You know you could’ve been raped! You get these boys aroused like this and they could just… rape you—”
“Daddy! These are my friends, they would never do that. I wasn’t in danger…”
“You don’t know that!” I yelled.
Fuck, I need to calm down.I took a deep breath and continued.
“You… your body is outpacing your brain. You look like a full grown woman now, you know? And that makes guys think… things.”