Chapter 23: The Late Bloomers

O Mere Papa the Great — Udit Narayan, Aditya Narayan
Ash and Summer (1)   I am a father. Ash kept turning the words over in his mind, barely believing them. I am a father. A dad. I have a daughter.

Summer looked so much like Cami. And yet, in her expressions, and in the sharp lines of her face, Ash could also see himself, and even his mother.

A father.

She was talkative, and bubbly, like Cami. And terrible in school, as he had once been. “Especially reading,” said Summer with a groan. “I’m the slowest reader in the class, and the other kids tease me.”

“Some of us are just late bloomers,” Ash told her. “I didn’t get the hang of reading well until high school, with the help of tutors.”

Summer’s face brightened. “Will you tutor me?” she asked. How could he resist? Now that he has met his daughter, he didn’t want to leave her side. He helped her with her homework until late that night, then tucked her into bed beside Cami, who was sound asleep, and read her the first chapter of Pippi Longstocking. Ash and Summer (14)Ash and Summer (17)Mors Canyon (133)

He spent that night on the living room sofa, and the next morning, went to work with a renewed sense of purpose. No longer was he researching the death of his parents, or even trying to save the sick people of Mors Canyon. Now, he researching to protect his daughter. Because although he had only just met her, he knew that it would destroy him if anything happened to her.  Ash and Summer (7) Ash and Summer (20) Ash and Summer (21) Ash and Summer (5)

He worked fervently in the labs, testing, probing, and interpreting results. And he spent every ounce of free time with Summer. He helped her with her schoolwork while Cami worked on opening her business. He read with her, taught her how to cook and how to swim and how to throw a Frisbee. Ash and Summer (13) Ash and Summer (10) Ash and Summer (11)

“When I grew up,” he told Summer one day, “I wanted to be a superhero. Now I am a scientist.”

“When I grow up,” said Summer, “I want to be a superhero and a scientist. I want to be just like you.”

Ash and Summer (3) Ash and Summer (4) Ash and Summer (2)

 

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