"Right," April said, pleased that he'd agreed. "So some time passed. Five months. It was frustrating, but then I got another letter, and he told me he'd gotten out and explained how difficult it was, and apologized."
Of course he did. Has he asked for money yet?
"So now he writes, but he hasn't given me his address. He said he's nervous about meeting me, and I understand that. I don't want to force things. But I'd at least like to be able to write back, you know? And I don't want him to be scared of me."
Adam thought that maybe he didn't need coffee anymore. Maybe he needed a beer. It was four in the afternoon. That was close enough to happy hour to count, wasn't it?
"You might give him some time on that," he said. "You might"
"I will give him time. But I can't give him anything more than that if I can't write back."
That's the point, honey. Give him nothing but time and distance.
"He explained where he was living," she said. "I feel like I should have been able to find it myself, honestly. I tried on the Internet, but I guess I don't know what I'm doing. Anyhow, I'd love it if you'd find the address. All I want to do is respond, right? To let him know that he doesn't need to be afraid of me. I'm not going to ask him to start being a dad."
Adam rubbed his eyes. "I'm more of a, uh, local-focused type. I don't do a lot of"
"He's in town."
"He's from here?"
She seemed to consider this a difficult question. "We all are, originally. My family. I mean, everyone left, like me to go to college, and "
And your father to go to prison. Yes, everyone left.
She opened the folder and withdrew a photocopy of a letter.
"In this, he gives the name of his landlord. It should be easy to come up with a list, right? He's living in a rental house, and this is the name of the woman who owns it. It should be easy."
It would be easy. One stop at the auditor's office and he'd have every piece of property in this woman's name.
"Maybe you should let things take a natural course," he said.
Her eyes sparked. "I have plenty of people who actually know something about this situation who can give me advice. I'm asking you to give me an address."
It should have pissed him off, but instead it almost made him smile. He hadn't thought she had that in her, not after the way she'd crept so uneasily into his office, scared by the sound of the door shutting behind her. He wished she'd come in when Chelsea was working. Not that Chelsea had a gentle touch, but maybe that was why it would have been better. Someone needed to chase her out of here, and Adam wasn't doing a good job of that.
"Fair enough," he said. "May I see the letter?"
She passed it over. A typed letter, the message filling barely a quarter of the page.
I understand you're probably not very happy with me. It just takes some time to adjust, that's all. I don't want you to expect more of me than I can be. Right now I will just say that it feels good to be back home. And a little frightening. You might be surprised at that. But remember it has been a while since I was here. Since I was anywhere. It's great to be out, of course, just strange and new. I am living in a rental house with a roof that leaks and a furnace that stinks when it runs, but it still feels like a castle. Mrs. Ruzichthat's my landlordkeeps apologizing and saying she will fix those things and I tell her there is no rush, they don't bother me. I'm not lying about that.
It is my favorite season here. Autumnso beautiful. Love the way those leaves smell, don't you? I hope you are doing good. I hope you aren't too upset about the way I've handled things. Take care of yourself.
Excerpted from The Prophet by Michael Koryta. Copyright © 2012 by Michael Koryta. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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