I hugged your younger sister, whom I had heard about so many times, and not in all positive ways. I remembered the story you once told me about her and her friends as kids, how they ran away from you and huddled under the red umbrella, leaving you to get soaked in the downpour half a block away. In the dream your sister hugged me hard, like she meant it. I wondered who these people are, the ones who take hold of strangers and embrace them without fear. Was I a stranger, though? I needed the hug. Badly. I held her tight and released the stories I had heard about her. What can I say? I had to, I had to.
Then your father took hold of me with speed and a light touch. After a moment he stepped back, put his hands on his hips, and pushed his chest out like men do. "So," he said. "You're the one who calls."
Did I respond?
Turns out that the party was a wedding reception at a house. You and I were there together in the same space, which felt unusual and intimate. I watched you navigate the rooms, talk to people in the line for the buffet. You were wearing jeans and boots so I assumed it was fall, a season when things around us fall down and the days, despite our best intentions, feel shorter and shorter.