Chapter 22: Graduation Day Surprise

Isn’t She Lovely? — Stevie Wonder (Chapter 22 Soundtrack)
meeting (4) “Mommy, did my dad die?” Summer asked one day while she and Cami were working in the garden.

Cami was so startled, she dropped her watering can. “No, sweetie. Your dad is still alive. What made you ask?”

“Well,” said Cami, tracing in the soil with her toes, “it’s just that you’ve never talked about him. And I’ve never like, seen him or anything. What is he like?”

Cami offered a weak smile. “To be honest, he’s a lot like you.” This was true. So much about Summer – her innocent imagination, her love for cooking, even her struggles with learning how to read, reminded Cami so much of the boy whom she had once loved. She had thought that she was doing the right thing by not telling Ash about his daughter, but as time passed, and Summer grew, she was less and less certain. meeting (3) meeting (5) meeting (7)

And so, the night before she was to graduate from college, she dialed Ash’s number.

Meeting

“Cami!” Ash’s voice sounded stunned. “How are you? How’s your…family?”

“Summer and I are fine,” she said. “In fact, tomorrow, I’m graduating. And I was hoping that you could join us for dinner afterward?”

“I’d love to,” said Ash.

The next evening, Cami walked with the other graduates and received her degree in business.

“Hurray! And now you’ll be able to open your garden shop!” said Summer, bouncing up and down with excitement.

“And now I’ll be able to open my garden shop,” said Cami, laughing. Just then, the doorbell rang. Ash was here.

meeting (8)

“Congratulations on your graduation,” said Ash, handing Cami a small, elegantly-wrapped gift. Inside, there was a slender silver necklace. From it dangled a tiny Superman symbol. “Encouragement to keep up your quest to save the world.”

meeting (9)

Cami smiled and fastened the necklace around her neck. “I love it. Though I hear it’s you who’s out there saving the world these days. From this weird illness.”

Ash’s face clouded for a moment. “Well, not quite yet. But we’re working on it.”

Cami bit her lip. “Look, there’s something very important that I need to tell you. You may want to sit down.”

 

Ash’s expression switched to one of alarm. “You’re not sick, are you?”

“No, it’s not that—”

“Is it Summer?”

“No. I mean yes, it’s about her. But she’s not sick.” She looked at him, her eyes pleading with him to understand. “Ash, Summer is your daughter.”

meeting (12)

Ash didn’t answer. He stood frozen, the same alarmed expression glued to his face.

“Ash?”

He gave a slow shake of the head. “That’s not possible. How is it possible?”

Cami smiled wryly. “I’m kinda thinking you would have learned that in med school, Doctor.”

meeting (14)

Ash closed his eyes. When he opened them again, they were flashing like lightning, his anger unmistakable. “How could you be so selfish, Cami? How could you hide something so important from me? How could you not tell me that I’m a father?

meeting (11)

“I understand—”

“No, I don’t think you do understand!” Ash raised his voice. “Imagine if it had been you. Imagine if no one ever told you that you had a daughter. Imagine missing out on her first steps, and her first words, and reading the same ridiculous baby book to her fifty times in a row because she asked you to. Imagine!”

meeting (13)

Cami could feel Ash’s pain and anger pulse through her like poison. He was right – she had been selfish, keeping a gift like Summer all to herself. Ash should have been there to hold his daughter, to see her grow, and to be a part of her life. “I’m sorry,” she kept saying. “I’m so sorry.”

Ash looked away from her. “Just…just bring her in here. I want to meet my daughter.”

meeting (10)

Cami nodded, then rushed to find Summer, who was playing quietly in your room. “Your daddy wants to meet you, baby,” she said. “He’s waiting for you in the kitchen.”

Summer’s eyes lit up. “My daddy? He’s really here?” She dropped her toys and raced to the kitchen, while Cami hung back and peeked through the doorway. Summer approached the table where Ash was seated, her mouth hanging open as though she were about to meet a real, live superhero.

Ash’s eyes were bright with tears. “Hi Summer. My name is Akash. I’m your dad.”

meeting (17)

 

 

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