It had been about a month and a half since Gail returned to school. Things were going relatively well with her classes and her job with the paper, but ever since the funeral her dad hadn’t stopped sending her texts or trying to call her. Gail was determinedly ignoring him every chance she got.
One evening when Haley was out, Gail was sitting on the couch eating some reheated leftovers and flipping through channels on the television. The little orange kitten was curled up beside her, purring rather sleepily. Though Gail was making an effort to ignore him, she knew Cecil was leaning against the wall behind the couch.
Gail’s phone kept buzzing on the coffee table but she never picked it up or checked to see who was messaging her. Cecil frowned and walked over to the couch, resting his arms on the back of it and peering down at her. “Aren’t you going to answer it?”
“Nope,” Gail said, her eyes fixed to the television. “It’s just my dad and I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
Cecil tilted his head to the side and raised an eyebrow. “Why not? Do you not like him?”
“I thought that’d be obvious,” she muttered under her breath. The phone buzzed again as a new text came in.
“Well what did he do that made you so upset?”
Gail inhaled then slowly sat up and peered at Cecil. “Well gee, there was the divorce and the fact that he got a new girlfriend about a week after, who’s just a little bit older than me I might add, and on top of that he had the nerve to bring her to my brother’s funeral and talk about how we needed to be united as a family. Is that good enough reason for you?”
Cecil gazed at her for a long moment before slowly nodding his head. “Yes, it is. I can see why you wouldn’t want to talk to him then. However…” He peered at the phone again which had begun buzzing once more. “I don’t think ignoring him is really doing the trick.”
Gail let out a heavy sigh and leaned forward to grab her phone, deciding to look at the string of texts her dad had just sent. She huffed and shoved her phone back into her pocket. “I don’t know what else I can do. I’ve told him I don’t want to see him or talk to him but he still won’t stop.”
Cecil hesitated a moment then leaned closer to her. “Would you mind if I saw what he said?”
She peered at him with a slightly skeptical glance then sighed and pulled her phone back out, bringing up the messages and handing it over to him. “Just don’t reply for me, got it?”
“I wouldn’t know how to even if I wanted to, to be honest,” Cecil said with a light chuckle as he took the phone. He peered at the screen and squinted at the messages, readjusting his glasses with his free hand. “He wants to come and see you, it seems.”
“I already said I don’t want to see him,” Gail grunted. “I’ve told him multiple times, the times I bothered replying to him. He just doesn’t seem to get it.” She repositioned herself on the couch and set the kitten carefully on her chest, stroking its ears, and it started purring louder.
“He clearly wants to see you, though.” Cecil handed the phone back to her and frowned slightly. “Doesn’t it strike you that he’s trying to make an effort to connect with you?”
“He’s been doing this since the divorce,” Gail said flatly, tossing the phone back onto the table. “He’s desperately trying to make me connect with his girlfriend so I’ll like her and we can all be happy together and act like she can be my second mom or something and it’s honestly just disgusting.”
Cecil huffed and turned his head away. “I suppose that is… unsettling.” He ran a hand across his face and shook his head. “What happened between him and your mother that they got a divorce?”
“He met his new girlfriend, that’s what,” Gail hissed in a venomous tone. “He met her at work. Mom started noticing things about him. They fought a lot. He was withholding money from her that our whole family really needed. She finally got lawyers involved. That was that.”
“I’m sorry, Abbey-”
Gail made a noise that immediately cut Cecil off. “I told you not to call me that,” she growled, then she turned her face away from him and continued watching TV. “It doesn’t really matter. That was years ago. Yeah I’m still pissed at him and I probably never won’t be. I just wish he’d get that through his head.”
Both of them fell silent and for a long time the only sound was that of the TV. Gail was just starting to doze off when her phone began to ring. She blinked and picked it up to see who was calling then scowled at seeing the number.
“Of course it’d be him,” she hissed.
“You should answer it,” Cecil said. “Just tell him how you feel. It would probably work out better than ignoring him.”
She let out an exasperated breath and sat up, setting the kitten down on the other end of the couch. “Fine, fine, I’ll talk to him.” She stood up and answered the phone, pressing it to her ear, though she didn’t look the slightest bit happy as she listened to the voice on the other end.
As Gail paced around the living room listening to the call and occasionally hissing something into the phone, Cecil slid onto the couch and picked up the kitten, holding it in his lap and stroking its ears with his fingertips. The phone call didn’t last long. Gail didn’t even say goodbye when she ended the call and shoved her phone back into her pocket. She turned his gaze on Cecil then and narrowed her eyes.
“I thought you said no one else could interact with you but me,” she said.
“No humans can unless I let them,” Cecil said. “I never said anything about animals. He seems to like it.” He peered down at the kitten with a smile as the kitten seemed to be quickly dozing off in his arms.
Gail sighed and shook her head, settling back down on the couch and curling her legs up close to her so they weren’t touching Cecil at all. “He’s still wants to come and see me. I told him absolutely not. I don’t think he got the message.” She frowned and sank back against the cushions of the couch. “I don’t know what else to do at this point.”
“Have you ever thought that maybe seeing him wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world?” Cecil suggested. Gail stared at him with a dull expression. He shrugged his shoulders and continued to stroke the little kitten. “I mean maybe seeing him face to face you could more easily convince him than through phone calls or text messages. You never know.”
“And I might commit murder if I have to spend time with him,” Gail hissed.
“Is it really that bad?” Cecil asked with a sigh.
“No but that is a strong desire I get whenever I see him, especially with his girlfriend.”
“Hmph, well so long as you don’t act on that desire I’m not going to say anything about it.”
“I’m not making any promises,” Gail muttered.
“Thank god for weekends, am I right?” Haley said as she settled onto the couch with two mugs of coffee in her hands. She handed one over to Gail and smiled. “We can finally just hang and do stuff, right?”
“Did you have anything specific in mind?” Gail asked as she sipped her coffee. The little kitten was curled up contentedly in her lap, nuzzling against her finger and occasionally nipping at it and trying to suck on it.
“Well Ivan seemed to want to get together with us again,” Haley said with a shrug. Gail made a slight face but didn’t object and Haley went on. “Plus I really want to introduce you guys to Janae. She’s great and she told me that she’d be off today too, so I could call her and see if she’d be cool with meeting you.”
“I think I’d prefer to meet her without Ivan around, to be perfectly honest,” Gail said.
“Oh what, is this about what he said to you the last time you two hung out?”
“Yes and no,” Gail said with a sigh. “I don’t think he really…” She waved her hand vaguely in the air. “Understands.”
“What, a girl having a girlfriend?” Haley asked, tilting her head to the side.
“Yes, and if he were to say anything around the two of you, well, I’d be pretty pissed off, wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Haley shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t think he’d mean any harm by it really, but I suppose I see what you mean. Besides, you’re my roommate. I think you deserve to meet her first anyway.”
“You’re damn right I do,” Gail said. “I need to make sure she’s good enough for you, don’t I?”
Haley snorted. “You don’t think my judgment is good enough to figure that out on my own?”
“Not at all, I just think a second opinion is always valuable.” Gail smirked at her then leaned forward and laid the kitten in her lap. “Here, you take him for a bit since he’s supposed to be yours anyway.”
Haley pressed the kitten against her chest and smiled. “Yeah but he seems to like you an awful lot. What’d I tell you? Having a pet is a good thing for you.”
“Yeah yeah, whatever. You want to call your girlfriend and tell her what you’re planning? Also, exactly what are we planning to do?”
“Oh you know, hang out at the mall, grab something for lunch, maybe do a little shopping. The usual.”
“Sounds good to me,” Gail said. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she pulled it out to see a text from her dad and she frowned hard at it.
“We’ll be there in about half an hour.”
“What the hell is this,” she hissed under her breath before sending back a message demanding an explanation. When he replied, she just stood there and stared at her phone for a long moment. Haley tilted her head to the side.
“What’s wrong, Gail?”
“Look at this,” Gail said, going over and shoving her phone into Haley’s hands. Haley squinted at the screen and frowned as well.
“Did you tell him he could come here?” she asked.
“Absolutely not! He’s been bugging me and calling me and I keep telling him I don’t want to see him. I don’t know where he gets off deciding to just drop in like this without an invitation.”
“Well at least he told you he was on his way so it wasn’t a complete surprise?” Haley offered, handing the phone back to Gail. “But yeah, that’s not cool at all.” She huffed and pressed the kitten closer to her. “Especially since we had plans.”
“We should just leave before he gets here so he won’t find us,” Gail growled. “It’d serve him right for deciding to do this.”
“No you shouldn’t do that,” Haley said. “He let you know he was coming and you acknowledged that you got the message. At this point I think you kind of have to see him.”
Gail let out a pained sigh and shook her head. “I hate him so much.” She stalked back into her bedroom and slammed the door a little too loudly then threw herself down on her bed.
Cecil stood in the corner of her room and watched her for a moment before saying in a quiet voice, “Are you okay?”
“What do you think?” she growled. “I’m pissed off that he thinks he can just come over here without asking.”
“He did ask though, didn’t he?”
“Fine. Without getting permission.” She propped herself up on her elbows and glared at the angel in the corner. “Wouldn’t you call that impolite behavior?”
Cecil held his hands up slightly. “Please don’t involve me in this. In case you haven’t noticed I don’t exactly understand human social cues.”
Gail snorted and shook her head. “Yeah you’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking asking you.” She sighed again and flopped her head down onto her pillows. “We had plans and now we have to change them because of his intrusion and it isn’t fair.”
“You could explain that to him when he gets here,” Cecil suggested. “Just tell him that his being here is inconvenient and you can’t cancel your plans.”
“He’d probably just invite himself along,” she huffed. “Even if no one else wanted him there.”
“Well I don’t know what else to tell you.”
“What kind of guardian angel are you then?” Gail muttered. “I thought it was your job to dispense advice.”
“Not on matters like this,” Cecil said, exhaling a little hotly. “Especially if you’re just going to keep shooting down my every suggestion.” He shrugged and stepped away. “But I suppose I should leave for now. You should get dressed before he gets here, shouldn’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Gail muttered darkly. Cecil disappeared but she remained still on her bed for awhile longer. It wasn’t until she glanced at her clock and saw that it had been nearly half an hour that she decided to finally change her clothes.
She came out and squinted toward the door as if expecting for her father to knock on it at any second, but when he didn’t she sighed and settled back on the couch next to Haley who had changed her own clothes and was still snuggling with the kitten.
“You didn’t tell Janae we were meeting with her today, did you?” Gail asked.
“I didn’t yet, no,” Haley said with a sigh. “Although I suppose she’s expecting me to tell her if we’re meeting or not so I should let her know. I suppose we shouldn’t meet her today, right?”
“I don’t know. Probably not. He’d probably invite himself along if we told him we had other plans and I absolutely do not want him tagging along when I meet her.”
“Yeah, same,” Haley said with a frown. “I’ll wait until he gets here to see if he’s going to tag along.”
Gail grabbed a pillow and pressed her face into it, letting out a heavy breath. “So much for having a fun day.”
It was at that moment that a knock came from the door. Gail lifted her head a few inches and frowned. Haley stood up and pressed the kitten into Gail’s arms. “I’ll get it, don’t worry.”
“Thanks,” Gail said with a sigh. She pressed the kitten closer against her and peered toward the door warily as Haley opened it.
“Hi, Mr. Wellers,” Haley said with a kind smile. “It’s a surprise to see you, we weren’t really expecting to get company today.”
Haley stepped back as Gail’s father came in along with a younger woman who was holding his hand. He smiled at Haley before glancing over to where Gail was sitting. “Well Gail kept insisting on ignoring all my messages so I just decided to drop by for a visit. You know how it is.”
“You drove two hours to drop by?” Gail growled from across the room, making no move to get up or go any closer.
“Hello to you too, Abigail,” he said with a tip of his head. Gail huffed and continued to pet the kitten in her arms, refusing to be friendly or inviting.
“Um, listen!” Haley cut in, attempting to diffuse the tension in the room. “Gail and I had plans to go out with some friends today but then she got your text and we weren’t exactly sure what to do about that, so…”
The woman at his side let out an exasperated breath and nudged him in the arm. “I told you this was a bad idea, Don. It really isn’t polite to barge in on people, especially when they didn’t invite you in the first place.”
“Hey, it’s no problem,” he said with a smile. He let go of her hand and walked over to Gail, stopping just in front of her and leaning down toward her. “We could just come with you.”
Gail scowled at him and stood up, pressing the kitten close against her and pressing her nose right up against her father’s. “You should listen to your girlfriend, you know. She seems to have some sense in her, unlike you. Why is it so hard for you to understand that I don’t want you here?”
His expression changed from one of amusement to being rather solemn and his voice was softer when he spoke again. “Gail, listen, I feel like there are a lot of things we need to talk about. I don’t like how we left each other before.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she hissed. “Just leave.” Before he had a chance to respond, Gail pushed past him and went back to her bedroom, closing the door behind her and settling on the bed. She curled around the kitten and pressed her face into her pillow with a heavy sigh.
“I think you should talk to him,” Cecil said quietly from the corner of the room. “It would give you both closure and maybe he would actually leave you alone afterward.”
Gail shot up and glared at Cecil. “Really? And exactly what do you know about anything?”
Cecil stared at her and let out a deep sigh. “You complained that I wasn’t doing my job well? I told you I’m here to give you advice. This is my advice. I realize you might not want to do it and I get it, really, but sometimes the things you need to do that are the best for you are the most painful. Still, once you get it done and over with I think you’ll be happier for it.”
“How can you be so sure?” she huffed.
He opened his mouth to respond then sighed and turned his face away. “Look, if you won’t listen to your guardian angel, fine. At least see what your friend has to say about this.”
There was a soft knock on the door just then. Gail turned to see Haley slipping into the room and closing the door behind her. “Hey, are you okay?” she asked quietly, a worried expression on her face.
Gail let out a deep breath and ran her hand across her face. “Are they still here?”
“Yeah, I told them to wait until I had a chance to talk to you.” Haley went over and sat down on the bed beside Gail, taking the little kitten and setting it on her lap, stroking its ears. “I think I could convince them to leave if you really want me to, but…”
“But what?” Gail asked, frowning a little. “He’s the one being rude, coming here without an invitation when he clearly isn’t wanted. Even she saw that.”
“I’m not disagreeing at all,” Haley said, nodding her head. “But I’m not sure if kicking them out is the best thing to do either. He is your dad after all.”
“I don’t care if he’s my dad. I don’t want to see him anymore.” Gail wrapped her arms around herself, sniffing hotly. “He’s a dick. After everything he’s done he doesn’t deserve the chance to try and connect with me again.”
Haley tilted her head to the side. “I don’t know, it seems to me like he’s really trying. Maybe he’s changed some? You won’t really know if you don’t give him a chance, will you?”
Gail didn’t respond. Instead she turned to look at Cecil, who was still standing in the corner of the room, and glared at him. Cecil just shrugged before fading out of her sight. Gail let out a heavy sigh and shook her head.
“It’s just… really hard for me to see him, okay?”
“I know.” Haley wrapped her arms around Gail and gave her a tight hug. “He’s your family, though. I think it would be good if you tried. Listen, why don’t we just go out and do what we’d been planning on doing? They can either leave or come with us but you don’t really have to feel obligated to actually try and do things with them. They could just trail behind us if they really want. Do you think that would be okay?”
Gail sighed and shook her head. “I… I don’t know. I guess maybe. As long as he doesn’t do…” She waved her hand vaguely. “What he normally does.”
“Hey, I’ll be there with you. It’s gonna be okay.” Haley smiled and gave Gail’s shoulder an encouraging squeeze. “Let’s just try to have a good time, regardless of them, okay?”
Gail exhaled and bowed her head slightly, then she murmured, “Alright. Yeah, let’s. Thanks, Haley. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Haley grinned and stood up, holding her hand out to Gail. “Come on. It’s gonna be alright, I just know it. We’re gonna have a great time and I’m gonna buy you something you’re going to love.”
Gail snorted and stood with her. “Well I guess I really can’t say no to that, can I?” She sighed and went to the door with Haley, opening it and stepping out, making a conscious decision to not let her father’s presence upset her and ruin her day.
Cecil watched from the corner, unseen by all, and smirked a little. “You really should listen to your guardian angel more often.”