"Are you breaking up with me or something?" Anne Marie asked.
"You haven't said anything all night."
"Oh, no," he said with a shrug.
"Kyle," she said, setting her hand over his. He took it once they stood from the table.
"Are your mom and dad home?"
"Yeah," she said.
"Oh," he said.
"That doesn't mean we can't go back there. They like you, you know that."
"I know," he said.
He did know that. He preferred hanging out at Anne Marie's house than at his house whenever he could. Anne Marie didn't seem to mind his little brother and sister, but he was the only one of his friends who still had siblings in elementary school. Most of his friends knew why, but she didn't. He'd never told her because it hadn't really come up. She hadn't come over to the house before this week and that was only because she'd assured him meeting them wasn't a problem.
He opened her door for her before going to his side of the car.
"I've just been thinking."
"Well, it's sort of strange."
"Okay," she said.
"I haven't told you that I'm adopted."
"No," she said.
"I mean, it's not something that really ever comes up in every day conversation."
"And, my parents are my parents."
"Sure, I get that. Totally."
He started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. It was Friday night and the place was busy. He wasn't going to take up the parking space any longer than necessary.
"Well, a few years ago. Junior high, seventh grade I think. Maybe it was eighth grade. They had this cop come to our school. You know. He talked to us about drugs and designated drivers."
"Right," she said. She'd heard it all, too, he was sure.
"I hardly paid him any attention at first. He had a pretty nice German Shephard with him. I've always liked them, wanted one but Mom and Dad wouldn't let us get any dogs. My cousins have always had dogs, usually more than one, and I was always jealous. So I spent most of his lecture watching him," he shrugged. "This kid started giving me shit, asking me if my dad worked as a cop and was here to check up on me, which of course he didn't. I didn't really see it, but my best friend at the time told me later he could kind of see why Doug was saying that. I asked my dad about it who, of course, told me nothing."
"He probably didn't know, Kyle."
"I know, but I've always had the feeling he and my mom know things. They've told me things about my mom. You know, general stuff. She wanted to keep me, I guess, but she was young and wanted to be sure I had a good life."
"And you do."
"I know. I'm not mad about it or anything," he said with a shrug. "I never saw the cop again, and honestly I never thought about it much after that. I mean, I have no real burning desire to find my biological parents or anything. Out of sight, out of mind. Right."
"Yesterday, he came to the house."
"The cop? He was leaving when I got there?"
"Yeah," he said.
"Why was he there?"
"Some robberies in the neighborhood, telling us that they were doing extra patrols at night and aware of the problem."
"I saw it way more yesterday than I did in junior high."
"You think he's your dad? Come on, Kyle?"
"I know, right? What are the odds I'd cross paths with him randomly once let alone twice in my life. He does look like me, though."
"I heard my parents arguing last night. My dad was madder than my mom. He doesn't usually get mad either. He's usually the calmer one. Mom's the one quick to overreact. Then this morning when I got up the business card he'd left was gone. I'd left it on the fridge for them to see it if they had questions or whatever."
"Maybe they took it."
"I don't know. Maybe," he said.
"You think they know who your dad is?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I've always thought it was real strange that they adopted me years before they had their own kids."
"Some parents do that…"
"I know. It's probably nothing, but he talked to me."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. He asked me about school. If it was cold up there. He told Dee to come say hi to his dog if she saw them at her school next year."
"It sounds like that's what he does…"
"I know, that part. Being nice to Dee. Clearly his job is to try to stop kids from getting into trouble, but the conversation with me," he shrugged. "I don't know."
"So, you've been quiet all night because…"
He was quiet for a few minutes after that, letting her question trail off because she'd probably think he was crazier than he already did for thinking like this.
"I was thinking of going to see him. I don't have his number anymore, but he's a cop in Shermer."
"I just want to know. I mean, I don't think I look that different than my mom and dad."
"No, you don't. I would never have guessed you were adopted."
"But I guess seeing him again made me curious."
"I think you should be careful."
"You could get hurt."
He scoffed at that.
"Your parents could get hurt."
"I'm almost nineteen years old. Legally I could find him on my own if I wanted to."
"True. Have you thought of asking the agency where you were adopted?"
"I don't think I was," he said with a frown.
"I don't know. I always got the impression it was done through a lawyer or something. I guess I've never asked, but I don't think I ever lived anywhere but with them."
"Yeah. Is that strange? I don't know anyone else adopted to know."
"I don't know either."
"Mom and Dad have always answered questions when I've asked them. I haven't in a long time, probably since seeing him at school that day honestly. It never really occurred to me that it should matter."
"Well, that's good. I mean, some people probably aren't so open about it. That must mean they wouldn't be upset if you did."
"I guess not. I've never asked really. I guess I was always more curious about my mom," he shrugged.
"That's probably normal, I mean she's the one who carried you, gave birth to you."
"Yeah," he said. "But what if he, like didn't know about me or something?"
"Kyle," she said, sounding cautious.
"Don't worry, I'm not thinking of finding him and running away to live with him or anything, but I mean it's possible if they were young. Isn't it?"
"And just randomly shows up at your house nineteen years later?"
"Yeah, okay, that part is the weird part. I don't know. He's not a street cop or a detective either, though. He's a K9 cop so why was he doing that?"
"Because his captain told him to?"
"You're not helping," he said. She was being logical and he supposed that was the right and fair thing to do.
"Is that why you haven't…"
"Kind of," he said. They hadn't gotten to the point of even thinking about sex really, but he'd been pretty up front with her from the beginning if she was just out to get laid he wasn't the guy for her. He didn't have a problem with sex, but he supposed somewhere in the back of his mind he wanted to do better than his parents. They'd given him up for a reason, not to make the same mistake they'd made.
"It makes a lot more sense now."
He laughed softly at that, pulling onto her driveway. "I suppose it does."
"No, I mean, I never had a problem with it, clearly. Knowing that your parents were young, though. I get it."
"Thank you," he said, turning the car off.
"Are you going to come in?" she asked.
"Sure," he said. "For a while."
Her sister was only two years younger than they were and was likely out anyway given it was Friday night.
"So," he said, taking hold of her hand when they met by the hood of his car.
"Would you come with me?"
"To the police station. If I were to go on Monday. Would you come with me?"
"You'd want me to?"
"I think so. I don't know."
"Sure. If you'd want me to I would. If you'd just want me to wait in the car I'd do that, too."
"Thanks," he said.
"You're welcome, Kyle, but you don't have to thank me. I'm surprised you asked, but of course I'd go wherever you need me to go."
"And I'm glad you finally let me meet your parents last night."
"I didn't not want you to meet them," he said with a sigh. He knew that's what she thought. He just hated hanging around there when he didn't have to. It was bad enough he was stuck babysitting all summer. When his parents got home he wanted to go out and do things so his entire summer wasn't wasted. They paid him a fair wage, less than he'd earn at a job or they'd have to pay an actual sitter but it was fair enough he didn't complain too much about it.
"Well, I'm still glad."
"They liked you."
"How do you know that?"
"Dee told me this morning."
"How does she know?"
"She asked my mom this morning."
"Oh," Anne Marie said. "She's cute."
"I know she is, she knows she is. Mom and Dad are going to have their hands full when she gets to be a teenager."
"Unlike you, you mean?"
"I never really dated much."
"Much," she said, opening the door leading to the house.
"Well, I didn't really have time." Between sports and studying he hadn't done much of anything else, but it was how he'd gotten the scholarship he had from U of M. The guy who'd given him shit about the cop possibly being his father had gotten a full-ride scholarship to Iowa on football, tore his ACL during the second or third week of practice. He was done. Kyle wasn't sure if his scholarship money would still be there or not, but it wasn't a chance Kyle wanted to take. His parents had money for him to go to school. He'd always known it'd be paid for, but he liked doing the work that allowed him to get the grades to get offers.
"Hi Mom and Dad. Kyle's here for a while."
"Okay. Hi Kyle."
"Hi Mrs. Ellingson."
"Did you two have a nice dinner?"
"Yeah. We went to Friday's."
"Oh, that sounds nice. Did you want some dessert? I baked a pie."
"Not right now, Mom," Anne Marie said.
"I was actually asking Kyle, Annie. Maybe he'd like a slice of pie."
"Yeah," he said, tugging gently on Anne Marie's hand. "Maybe I want a piece of pie."
"I'd love a piece, Mrs. Ellingson, thank you."
"Do you want ice cream or whipped cream? I made the whipped cream myself."
"Whipped cream sounds great," he said.
Anne Marie's mom didn't work, never had she'd told him at one point last year. So she had time to do things like bake pies on Fridays. His mom baked pies at Christmas and Thanksgiving, but that was about it.
Her dad was watching some news show on the TV and wasn't paying them any attention as they walked to the kitchen to have some pie with her mom. Her dad never said much to Kyle. He got the impression her mom liked him just fine, he wasn't sure about her dad though. Her assurances they liked him didn't ease his mind on that.
"You're not going to have a piece, Mom?" Anne Marie asked.
"No, sweetheart. You two enjoy it. Put your plates by the sink when you're done."
"All right," she said. Her mom had given her a much smaller piece than the one she'd given Kyle he noticed.
"You can have some of mine if you want."
"I'm really not that hungry."
"I'm always hungry for homemade pie."
He shrugged. "I like pie." He leaned in and kissed her. "Especially when it means you get whipped cream stuck to the top of your lip."
"We wouldn't want that."
"Right? Thanks for not thinking this whole thing is weird."
"It's not weird. I'm glad you told me. I can't imagine what you've been thinking since yesterday."
"Lots of things."
"Well, if you decide you want to go and want me along I'm there."
"Thanks, Annie," he said.
"You are not my mother!"
He chuckled. "I know. I like Annie, though. It's a lot easier to say than Anne Marie."
"That's not my name, though!"
"I'd let you call me something else."
"There's nothing to shorten or change Kyle to!"
"Well, that may be, but if you wanted to…"
He chuckled. "Settle down. I'm just teasing. Shit. I've never called you that before. I've just never heard your mom call you that either."
"I know. I hate it!"
"I don't know. Sometimes I think she still sees me as her little Annie."
"Oh," he said with a nod, understanding a bit. She was named after a saint or something. Her parents were Catholic. His were, too, but clearly hers were a lot more into it than his were. He'd gone to mass growing up but not regularly or anything. He hadn't been since confirmation, in fact. He had no idea where his parents came up with his name or anything. He'd never thought to ask.
"I thought you weren't that hungry," he said when she'd finished her pie and took a bite of his.
"I'm saving you from eating the whole thing by yourself."
"Likely story," he said.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com