"You,” she spoke over him, “are gonna bail on her birthday just like you bailed on it last year. You will bail on all her school shit. You will keep bailing because when it comes to her, that’s all you know how to do.” Her voice was getting high and tight and strained and she didn’t care. “And while she’s still little, you can get away with it. She’ll cry, and I’ll have to try and talk you up to her, and then she’ll forgive you. But what happens when she’s ten? Twelve? Fifteen? She won’t keep forgiving you.”
The lines of his face hardened; a muscle in his jaw ticked. “That’ll be my problem and not yours.”
That was true, but she didn’t care. “I didn’t know my father,” she said, voice still climbing. “I don’t know his name, or what he looks like, or if he’s still alive. I never knew if he had a family – a real one – and if Mom was just his dirty mistress. He doesn’t even exist for me; how can I hate someone who doesn’t exist?
“But Clara does know you,” she went on, talking through her teeth now. “And she’ll hate you for what you’re doing one of these days.”
His face – she’d thought it handsome once upon a time, but now only saw it as cruel – was set at unreadable angles. “Maybe,” he said quietly, “she’ll hate me because you hate me so much.”