These Gentle Wounds
a hand on my shoulder until we get to Ms. DeSilva’s office. Then he takes a deep breath and pushes me like a battering ram through the door.
    I don’t remember a ton about Amy DeSilva except that she was nice to me, she didn’t say mean things about my mom, and she never told me things would be okay just to have something to say.
    She looks exactly like she did five years ago. She still has that middle-aged-woman hairstyle you have to go to a salon to get—all puffy and curled. Only Kevin and I look different.
    â€œLook at you,” she says, holding my arms out. Kevin smirks, but I wish I could see what she’s seeing. I can’t imagine anything about me that would make her so happy.
    I try to smile back, but I just end up biting on my lip as she leans over and gives Kevin a hug and gestures for us to sit down.
    â€œSo, I know this isn’t how you boys want to spend this afternoon, but we all have to follow the law. The court has granted your father’s petition for this supervised meeting, and I wanted to go over what will happen and make sure you don’t have any questions.”
    A hundred million questions all rush to the front of my head, each of them yelling “Pick me! Pick me!” I’m determined not to let a single word escape my lips. If I start talking, I won’t be able to stop. And if that happens, I’m afraid I’m going to start talking about what happened on The Night Before and there’s no way I’m letting that happen.
    I start snapping my bracelet and don’t quit until Kevin leans over and knocks me on the leg. Then I sit on my hand, but I can still feel the muscles jerking.
    Ms. DeSilva leans over her desk and clasps her hands together. Her nails are a deep shiny red that match the carpet. “Gordie, your father is going to be here in about fifteen minutes. I’m going to have my assistant take him straight into the conference room and let me know when he’s there. Then I’ll take you in. I’m afraid that Kevin is going to have to wait outside, but I’ll be in there with you and I’ll stay there for the whole visit. Okay?”
    She looks at me, waiting for me to tell her it’s okay, but nothing about this is okay. I manage a nod, but it’s a struggle. I don’t want to go in there looking like I really give a damn.
    She obviously notices because she offers me something to drink. I can’t imagine being able to hold anything down, so I shake my head again.
    â€œI know you haven’t seen your father in a long time, so this meeting will be short and we’ll keep things casual, okay? We’ll just see how it goes.”
    Then she looks at Kevin. “Are there any questions I can answer, or do the two of you need a few minutes?”
    I have no intention of opening my mouth. Of course, Kevin can’t keep quiet. “Thanks. I think some time might be good, Ms. DeSilva,” he says.
    She gets up and gathers her papers. “You know, I think it would be all right if you called me Amy. You aren’t little boys anymore.”
    Kevin nods. Aside from Jim, I’ve never called adults by their first names. Even with Jim, it’s easier not to call him anything at all.
    The door lock clicks as she closes it.
    Kevin turns his chair to face mine. “You can do this, Gordie. It’s just twenty minutes.”
    I nod, even though “twenty minutes” with my father sounds like a lifetime.
    â€œGive me your watch.” He holds his hand out and I undo the strap and hand it to him. He fiddles around with it and gives it back. I don’t look at it when I put it back on.
    â€œAre you going to talk to him at all?” Kevin asks. He sounds calm, but he’s running his hand through his hair like it’s an animal he’s trying to tame.
    I try really hard to wrap my lips around one word, to say “No,” but my plan has taken over my brain. I shake my head.

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